Why one state senator says Texas needs an independent monitor of the natural gas industry

“Day in, day out, this industry is extracting money from the systems and putting it in their investors’ pockets,” says Democrat Nathan Johnson.

By Rhonda Fanning, David Brown, Addie Costello & Caroline CovingtonMarch 23, 2022 12:55 pm, ,

Some Texas lawmakers are pushing for an independent monitor of Texas’ natural gas industry. And they’re using Texas’ electricity industry monitor as a model.

For years, Texas had no independent monitor of its electricity market, and industry and lawmakers resisted independent oversight. Despite their resistance, many came to support the monitor, saying it helped the market function more efficiently.

Texas state Sen. Nathan Johnson, a Democrat from Dallas, is one of the lawmakers pushing for an independent natural gas monitor. He spoke with Texas Standard about why he believes one is needed now and what the benefits would be.

Listen to the interview with Johnson in the audio player above or read the highlights below:

– Johnson does not believe an independent natural gas monitor would have totally prevented the energy issues Texans faced during the 2021 winter storm. But he does argue it could have lessened the consequence and prevented some of the financial fallout.

– The natural gas monitor would function similarly to the independent monitor in the electric industry. It would ensure companies aren’t violating market rules, that the industry is structured in the way it was intended and functioning efficiently, Johnson says.

“Day in, day out, this industry is extracting money from the systems and putting it in their investors pockets,” Johnson said.

– The Texas Legislature won’t take up the issue until Jan. 2023. The earliest a monitor position would open up would be  Sept. 2023.

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