The Texas Railroad Commission, also known as the Railroad Commission of Texas, performs an essential role in Texas, but its title is deceptive. Created in 1891 when the cattle industry was a dominant force in our state’s economy, the TRC at that time regulated the railroads which brought Texas cattle to markets across the country. As our state economy has shifted to oil and gas, the focus of the TRC has also shifted. In fact, since 2005 the TRC has held no jurisdiction over the Texas railway system. Despite legislation to do so, however, its name has not changed to reflect its current jurisdiction. The job of the TRC today is to regulate the oil and gas industry and everything related to that industry, from gas utilities to coal and uranium mining. It also regulates oil and gas-related activities in order to prevent water pollution, above and below ground.
To facilitate data gathering and sharing, the TRC provides a geographic information system (GIS), a helpful resource accessible to the general public. According to the TRC website, “GIS technology is used for more than just making maps – it is a dynamic tool to capture, analyze, and visualize project data.” The site is designed to provide relevant geographic data for oil and gas projects. Even for those not directly involved in the oil and gas industry, however, the information is relevant, particularly for anyone purchasing or leasing land and/or mineral rights. By visiting RRC Public GIS Viewer (texas.gov), a buyer may find helpful information about a property, including “asset inventory, project boundary mapping,...route alternative analysis, visual impact analysis, [and] environmental field surveys.” This information helps a buyer make a more informed decision about buying property.
While this information is available to the general public, it can be difficult to interpret accurately and may not include all relevant information about a property. Working with a lawyer experienced in real estate or oil and gas will ensure that a buyer is aware of issues like pipeline easements and well locations before moving forward with a purchase.
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