Administrative control of petroleum production in Texas




Willbern, York Y.

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From some standpoints the Texas Railroad Commission is the most powerful state administrative agency in the United States. In addition to many of the functions performed by public service commissions in most states, the Commission is the agency which has been given by the greatest petroleum producing state in the nation the task of regulating many phases of that industry, one of the largest and most important in the country. While extensive and valuable studies have been made of the agencies which regulate public utilities, and while studies and comments have appeared concerning the economic background and significance of the regulation of oil production, no study seems to have been made of what seems to be a comparatively unique and definitely important field of public regulation--the administrative powers and processes actually employed by an agency controlling the production of petroleum. The primary focus of this study has been upon that control as a function of government; the chief aims and problems of the control, the weapons and methods, powers and procedures, used to apply it, the extent to which the administrative agency has been held in check by judicial review, have been the subjects toward which attention has been directed. Intriguing as the subject is, the substantive policies developed and applied by the agency have not been a matter for attention, except in so far as it was thought desirable to outline the general problems and framework of policy within which the Commission operates, and except when descriptions of or comments upon specific policies have been incidentally made in an attempt to explain the position or methods of the Commission as an administrative agency. Since there was a need to keep the problem within reasonable limits, and since control of production seemed the most significant part of the Commission's functions from the standpoint of this study, it has been limited in large measure to that. Although performed by the same agency and the same division within it, control of petroleum transportation, refining, processing, and uses have been reported upon only slightly, if at all