This article by Glenn Hamer originally appeared in Midland Reporter-Telegram on August 13, 2021. (Photo by Daniel Acker, Bloomberg)
In 2011, the United States became the No. 1 producer of natural gas in the world. In 2018, the United States became the world’s largest petroleum producer. And in 2021, President Biden’s administration seems hellbent on knocking us off our perch as the top energy producer in the world. The renewed push from Democrats to implement their Green New Deal would strike a blow to the fossil fuel industry and subsequently oil and gas production which would have an outsized impact on Texas.
From shutting down the Keystone XL pipeline -- which killed thousands of jobs with the stroke of a pen while supporting the Russian Nord Stream 2 -- to banning oil and gas exploration on federal lands, the president made clear that an all-out-assault on the energy industry was coming. The recent mind-boggling plea from the White House asking every country, but the United States to drill, baby, drill, is just the latest.
To make matters worse, his allies in Congress are pushing for even more regulations on oil and gas and fossil fuel production via the Green New Deal. The proposed climate legislation unveiled by the president’s Democrat allies in Congress in July has a goal of achieving 80 percent “clean electricity” by the end of the decade. Anyone following this sort of legislation knows that is simply code for eliminating the fossil fuel industry. An idea that would have a devastating impact on Texas jobs, the state budget and our everyday lives.
Despite an increased focus on renewable and clean energy, fossil fuels made up 83.3 percent of the United States’ energy production in 2019. And Texas leads the nation in energy production, providing more than one-fifth of the country's domestically produced energy, a vast majority of which come from petroleum production. The Lone Star State is the unequivocal leader in oil and gas production. According to the United States Energy Information Administration, “Texas leads all states in crude oil production as it has in every year but one since at least 1970.”
Not only does the oil and gas industry employ hundreds of thousands of Texans, not to mention the indirect jobs produces as a result, it supplies the Texas state budget with billions of dollars of revenue each year. According the Texas Oil and Gas Association (TXOGA) the oil and natural gas industry paid $13.9 billion in state and local taxes and state royalties in the fiscal year 2020. These funds go to support our education system, roads and infrastructure and a multitude of other state services. As TXOGA points out, “in 2020, Texas school districts received more than $2 billion in property taxes from mineral properties producing oil and natural gas, pipelines, and gas utilities. Counties received $688.4 million in these property taxes.”
But it doesn’t stop there. In addition to jobs being destroyed and the Texas budget hollowed out, our way of life would be significantly altered. Fossil Fuels are used to make things like clothes, PVC pipes, and deodorant. For every 42-gallon barrel of oil, only 19.4 gallons go to creating gasoline. The rest goes to making products we use in our everyday lives. The elimination of this industry would dramatically change our everyday lives for the worse.