Texas Railroad Commission Chairman, and potential Texas Attorney General candidate, Barry Smitherman addressed a Tuesday night dinner crowd hosted by the Johnson County Republican Women’s Club.
“I’m thrilled to be in [U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, R-Austin’s] district,” Smitherman said. “You have a great Christian businessman representing you who understands math and numbers, which not enough people in D.C. do.”
Smitherman, a graduate of Texas A&M University and the University of Texas School of Law, served as a prosecutor in the Harris County District Attorney’s Office and later as chairman of the Public Utility Commission.
Appointed to the Texas Railroad Commission by Gov. Rick Perry in 2011, Smitherman won election to his seat in 2012, capturing 74 percent of the vote.
“I’m running for attorney general predicated on the condition that [current Attorney General Greg Abbott] is running for something else,” Smitherman said.
Smitherman joked that the railroad commission, which deals largely with energy issues now and has little to do with railroad oversight, will continue to be named so at least until the next session of the Texas Legislature. Attempts to change the name to something more apropos to what they actually do have so far been in vain, he said.
The Railroad Commission, Smitherman said, exemplifies the pursuit of happiness phrase found in the U.S. Constitution by creating jobs and opportunity.
“[Texas is] leading the way to energy independence, and it’s not because of the federal government,” Smitherman said.
Texas produces about 1.7 million barrels of crude oil per day compared to the 1.6 million per day that the U.S. imports from Saudi Arabia.
“I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of sending our money to countries that hate us,” Smitherman said. “By 2020, at the current pace, we will stop importing oil from Africa, Saudi and other countries.”
Texas’ bounty of natural gas and other resources keeps money, jobs and young people here and employs more than 500,000 Texans.
“We are going to lead America in this direction,” Smitherman said. “But there are storm clouds because of Obama’s EPA and bone-headed, poorly scienced allegiance to climate change.”
Smitherman said that carbon emission levels are down to 1990s levels in Texas and 1962 levels nationwide.
“It’s not an issue,” Smitherman said. “I know Roger [Williams] gets that, but the president doesn’t.”
Smitherman called Obama’s energy policies disastrous, including those addressing coal production. The president’s policies, Smitherman argued, lead to us selling coal to China and other countries, where it is burned under less strenuous restrictions and results in far more pollution.
Smitherman said his main issues of concern if elected include fighting against human trafficking and Internet child pornography, fraud cases and border security.
The JCRW announced the JCRW Polly Guthrie Memorial Scholarship with plans to award at least one $1,000 scholarship to Johnson County students annually. Guthrie, a former educator, coach and longtime member of the Johnson County Republican Party, passed away in 2011.