The Railroad Commission of Texas has a new leader.
The state’s oil and gas regulator, which has three commissioners, elected Christi Craddick, a Republican, as its chairman Tuesday. She replaced Barry Smitherman, who will be leaving the commission after choosing not to run for reelection.
Craddick, an attorney specializing in energy and water issues, was elected to the commission in 2012. A native of Midland, she is the daughter of state Rep. Tom Craddick, a Republican who served as Texas House speaker from 2003 to 2009.
Craddick takes over a commission overseeing a historic surge in oil and gas production. Spurred by technological advances like hydraulic fracturing, Texas has reached production numbers unseen in more than three decades. The commission has also drawn increased scrutiny from those who have raised concerns about the industry’s impact on the environment and public health.
Craddick sat down with the Tribune on Wednesday. She discussed the agency’s dual role as an industry watchdog and champion, efforts to ban fracking in Denton and the commission’s efforts on earthquakes and disposal wells.