Booming Energy Industry is Helping Keep Texas Strong

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Steve Everley | The Galveston County Daily News | April 1, 2019

In response to the guest column by Priscilla Villa (“Texas should put communities first,” The Daily News, March 27): Texas has been experiencing record levels of oil and natural gas production, spurred by advancements in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. This boom has reduced energy prices for consumers, lessened our dependence on imported oil, and enhanced our state’s long-time status as a petroleum exporter.

Oil and natural gas development in Texas accounts for about 10 percent of our state gross domestic product, or over $137 billion. Oil and natural gas production directly employs 336,000 workers statewide, while supporting millions more. These jobs often pay wages that are double the national average.

Tax revenue from production is expected to account for $6.7 billion to the FY2018-19 budget, while taxes and royalties from oil and natural gas reaching more than $14 billion last year. That’s funding for our local schools, roads, and emergency services to help keep our communities safe.

These benefits are increasingly being felt in the Texas Gulf Coast, where billions of dollars in investment are going toward pipeline and export infrastructure. In fact, since 2010, about $70 billion worth of manufacturing investments have been announced to take advantage of our state’s massive shale gas supplies. A decade ago, many of these investments would have been made in Europe or the Middle East, due to high energy costs here in the United States. Now the Gulf Coast is leading an American manufacturing comeback.

New export infrastructure projects, such as Enterprise Products Partners’ multi-billion-dollar oil export terminal planned for just south of Galveston, also represent an incredible opportunity for the region. Not only do these projects mean more jobs and economic growth; they’re vital for helping to cut our trade deficit.

An estimated 80 percent of our nation’s total crude exports flow from the Texas Gulf Coast, representing billions of dollars flowing back into places like Galveston, Houston and Corpus Christi. Thanks to Texas, next year the United States is on track to become a net energy exporter.

Unfortunately, despite these benefits, we continue to see reckless proposals — often from politicians and activists located on the East and West coasts — that would end the American energy boom. The U.S. Senate recently rejected the Green New Deal, but anti-fossil fuel activists remain undeterred. Villa opined that “we need to transition to a renewable energy economy” because the “well-being of our neighbors, friends, families and future depend on it.”

Political rhetoric about “transitioning” our economy might poll well among fringe environmentalists and Beltway elites, but it’s a recipe for disaster. Last year, Texas oil and gas development generated $38 million per day to fund schools, roads, and emergency response. The “energy transition” that occupies so much of activists’ lofty rhetoric would, in practice, reduce that number to zero. Such a proposal is a disservice to Texas teachers, firefighters, and policemen, to say nothing of the skyrocketing energy bills that families would be forced to pay.

Indeed, putting millions of Texas out of work, slashing funding to our schools, and increasing our dependence on foreign countries to meet our energy needs isn’t improving anyone’s “well-being.” It’s time to look beyond partisan talking points and unrealistic policy proposals to instead support something we all agree on: keeping Texas strong.