This week, San Francisco billionaire and activist Tom Steyer held a town hall in San Antonio, part of his extreme campaign to impeach President Trump. But Steyer is better known for another fringe effort: he has spent millions of dollars bankrolling the “Keep it in the Ground” movement to ban oil and natural gas production.
As founder of NextGen Climate, Steyer launched a crusade against affordable energy, trying (unsuccessfully) to implement bans on fracking and indeed all fossil fuels.
Without question, Steyer’s anti-energy policies are anti-Texas. As the top oil and natural gas producer in the United States, Texas relies on energy development to keep our economy strong. In Steyer’s radical vision for America, families and businesses in San Antonio and across Texas would suffer.
Here are five ways Tom Steyer’s radical climate agenda is bad news for Texas.
- Electricity Prices Would Skyrocket. Natural gas makes up about half of our state’s electric power capacity, providing affordable energy for businesses and families. Since 2008, power generation from natural gas in Texas has increased by 17 percent while residential electricity prices have fallen by 16 percent. In addition, from 2008 to 2016, the average price of natural gas delivered to consumers – which is used for home heating – decreased by 15 percent.
In San Antonio, natural gas accounts for 45 percent of the power provided by CPS Energy and has helped the city’s electricity rates be lower than both the state and national averages. Without natural gas, families in San Antonio will unnecessarily see their monthly electricity bills increase.
- Millions of Hard-Working Texans Would Lose Their Jobs. The oil and gas industry directly employs over 325,000 men and women in Texas, representing over 39 percent of all oil and gas jobs in the country. Texas’ oil and gas industry indirectly supports millions of jobs in the fields of manufacturing, pipeline construction, technology, and more.
San Antonio has prospered thanks to nearby oil and gas production: 23,525 jobs in Bexar County were supported by the Eagle Ford Shale in 2016. According to the Brookings Institution, domestic energy production has helped San Antonio be one of six metro areas to achieve “truly inclusive economic growth and prosperity across the decade.”
- Funding for Students and Schools Would be Cut. In Texas, revenue from oil and natural gas production helps fund schools and universities. In fiscal year 2017, Texas school districts received $1.1 billion in property taxes associated with oil and gas development. In addition, $995 million was deposited into the Permanent School Fund in 2016 from oil and gas revenues.
- Billions of Dollars in Government Revenue Would be Lost. In FY 2017, the oil and gas industry paid over $11 billion in state and local taxes and state royalties. This is the equivalent of $30 million a day for services like education, first responders, and roads.
- Our Nation’s Energy Security Would Be Compromised. The Permian Basin and the Eagle Ford Shale are among the most prolific oil and natural gas producing regions in the country. Texas produces approximately 24 percent of all U.S. natural gas, and nearly 40 percent of the nation’s crude oil.
Thanks to its abundant resources, Texas is also a major player in the world energy market. Bolstered by Texas production, U.S. crude oil exports have reached a record 3 million barrels a day. In addition, Texas natural gas is home to seven of the 24 liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facilities that are planned or under construction in the United States.
Without fracking, Texas’ abundant shale resources would remain untapped. This would mean less affordable electricity, fewer high-paying jobs, and less funding for our schools. It would also deprive the rest of the country and the world of a safe, secure energy supply.
Tom Steyer’s anti-energy agenda is bad for San Antonio, bad for Texas, and bad for the United States.
Omar Garcia is President and CEO of the South Texas Energy & Economic Roundtable (STEER).
Steve Everley is spokesman for the grassroots organization Texans for Natural Gas.