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For Immediate Release: January 11, 2013
Contact: Robert J. Thormeyer, 202-898-9382, rthormeyer@naruc.org

Texas' Smitherman Tapped as Chair of NARUC Committee on Gas

WASHINGTON—National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners President Philip B. Jones of Washington appointed Railroad Commission of Texas Chairman Barry Smitherman as Chair of the Association’s Committee on Gas.

Chairman Smitherman, who served as a Co-Vice Chair of the committee, replaces outgoing Chair Timothy Alan Simon of California, who left regulation. President Jones also reappointed Commissioner Todd Snitchler of Ohio as a Co-Vice Chair. He appointed Commissioner Paul Roberti of Rhode Island to join him as a Co-Vice Chair, while also maintaining his leadership of the NARUC Task Force on Pipeline Safety.

Through panel discussions and educational sessions, the Gas Committee fosters awareness and understanding of issues affecting the transportation, distribution, and sale of natural gas safely, efficiently, and economically. Committee members work closely with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the U.S. departments of Energy and Transportation.

“With the expansion of hydraulic fracturing technologies, gas is becoming the key fuel source driving the country’s economic engine,” said President Jones. “As natural gas use expands, we must make sure it is delivered safely, reliably, and affordably to consumers across the country. Traditional regulatory silos are coming down as gas becomes the fuel of choice for power generation. Therefore, the NARUC Gas and Electricity committees need to coordinate closely. Chairman Smitherman and his leadership team have the skills to do this. I also want to thank outgoing Chairman Simon for his steadfast stewardship of this committee. He demonstrated his commitment to pipeline safety throughout his tenure, and I applaud him for his service to our country.”

Chairman Smitherman was appointed to the Railroad Commission of Texas in July 2011 by Gov. Rick Perry, and was elected Chairman by his colleagues in February 2012. In November 2012, Chairman Smitherman won the statewide election to the Commission with 74% of the vote, receiving over 4.5 million votes. He is a fourth generation Texan, with a unique blend of private and public sector experience. Prior to serving at the Railroad Commission, he chaired the Public Utility Commission of Texas from 2007-2012. He was originally appointed to the PUCT in 2004.

“I am honored to chair the Committee on Gas and I thank President Jones for this opportunity,” Chairman Smitherman said. “Natural gas already plays a central role in our energy resource mix, and this role will only grow as gas usage expands. Thanks to new technologies, gas prices are affordable and gas is an abundant domestic source of energy; however, we must use it prudently, safely, and reliably. The Committee on Gas will explore numerous issues, including pipeline safety, electricity interdependencies, use of natural gas for transportation, LNG exporting, and much more. I congratulate Co-Vice Chairs Snitchler and Roberti. We will make a great team.”

“I look forward to working with Chairman Smitherman, Co-Vice Chairman Roberti, and my colleagues on the Committee on Gas,” said Co-Vice Chairman Snitchler. “There is no shortage of issues before us, and I will take a particular interest in electricity and gas interdependencies. Electric utilities are becoming more reliant on natural gas so they can comply with new environmental rules. We must make sure consumers are not overburdened by these developments.”

“I want to thank President Jones, Chairman Smitherman and Co-Vice Chairman Snitchler,” said Co-Vice Chairman Roberti. “As Chair of the NARUC Task Force on Pipeline Safety, I will continue former Chair Simon’s persistent focus on the safe and reliable transportation of natural gas. Pipeline safety is a shared responsibility. We will maintain a constant conversation with our federal partners and utilities going forward.”

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NARUC is a non-profit organization founded in 1889 whose members include the governmental agencies that are engaged in the regulation of utilities and carriers in the fifty States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. NARUC's member agencies regulate telecommunications, energy, and water utilities. NARUC represents the interests of State public utility commissions before the three branches of the Federal government.

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