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Republican Railroad Commissioner Candidate Jim Wright’s History with Commission Raises Questions About Impartiality

After defeating incumbent Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton, Jim Wright faces Democrat Chrysta Castañeda in the November General Election for a seat on the Railroad Commission. The Railroad Commission of Texas was originally established in 1891 to prevent discrimination in railroad charges and establish reasonable tariffs. Their mission has evolved to provide stewardship of natural resources and the environment in Texas. 

Jim Wright, however, has a complicated past with the Railroad Commission regarding a waste facility in South Texas. Originally created by Wright, DeWitt Recyclable Products received a permit from the Railroad Commission back in 2012. Wright then sold the company for $1.3 million to Watson Energy Investments in 2014 but remained president of the company. In 2017, the Railroad Commission shut down the facility due to numerous environmental violations. 

“Railroad Commission officials fined the facility more than $181,000 for the violations and held Wright responsible. In an Oct. 2017 letter to the Railroad Commission, Wright’s attorney, Chris Pepper, said Wright did not have ownership or operational control of DeWitt after the sale and that despite requests, his name was never taken off agency records for the facility.” – Sergio Chapa, Houston Chronicle 

Wright spent over $1.5 million cleaning up the site and is working to reopen under its new name: Eagleford Recycling Services. The Railroad Commission still has not approved his permit, but Wright has vowed to recuse himself if elected and proceedings were to come up in the Commission. 

Wright has had no political experience in the past but beat his incumbent opponent with over 55 percent of the vote. If victorious, how can Texans trust that he will be impartial while serving on the Railroad Commission? 

For more information, please read this Houston Chronicle story.

Click here to read Onward Texas’ candidate profile of Chrysta Casteñeda, Wright’s Democratic opponent.

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