Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams wants to strike a balance

By Donna McCollum

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Michael Williams grabbed the attention of his audience by stepping in front of the podium. An old lawyer's trick.   He steps up to the front row and said,  " I'm an old prosecutor. I like to stay close to my jury." The Republican commissioner needs the attention of Nacogdoches business people, many who have vested interest in a rapidly growing oil and gas industry in Nacogdoches County.    " And that's extra important because what that provides is additional supplies of natural gas that we'll be able to use to make affordable electricity, " said Williams.

Energy exploration is a double edged sword. It brings revenue to the region and individuals. It also leads to disputes over damaged roads, and ignored property owner rights. Williams' job is to please both sides.    " We have to get to the right balance, a proper balance between getting the natural gas that we need so desperately in this state, but also making sure that Texans, the real people who are the owners of this state, are protected as well and the legislature will reach that balance. "

Williams makes no qualms about his strong position of drilling anywhere where there's oil and gas. Yet he speaks of the importance of diversification.    " We're gonna have to use clean coal, nuclear power, natural gas, wind, solar, and demand efficiency. We are going to have to use all of them. And one fuel source that is unique in this area is biomass."

Just as oil and gas aren't found over night, the fix to rising fuel costs doesn't come quickly either. Williams knows the jury is still out on the latter, and the verdict strongly affects his future in state in politics. His term is up in December.