December 11, 2020
Note: This column originally appeared in the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.
Since Spindletop, Texas’ oil and natural gas industry has driven prosperity in our great state. If we were still a sovereign nation, Texas would have the 10th largest gross domestic product (GDP) in the world, ahead of Canada, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia. Our families, friends and neighbors depend on the medical devices derived from oil and natural gas products, the affordable and reliable natural gas that powers nearly 40% of our electrical grid and, of course, the fuel required to move products to market.
Our unrivaled quality of life is due in large part to the innovations and technologies made possible by the industry. Not only does it provide the energy we need, but 96% of products we use every day like medicines, cell phones, and plastics are made with oil and natural gas. Our pocketbooks benefit from increased domestic production as well, with the average family of four saving $2,500 a year due primarily to more affordable electricity prices.
Despite these clear benefits, the pandemic and the political season have ushered in discussions of a diminished or excluded role for oil and natural gas going forward, and a domestic policy shift away from the industry. These prospects are out of touch with reality.
Nearly a billion people today live without electricity and three billion do not have access to clean cooking fuel. In the developing world, access to hospitals, schools, and reliable food sources are hindered by limited infrastructure.
By 2050, the world’s energy demand is expected to grow by 50%. Though development of renewable technologies will continue, oil and natural gas are key in meeting the world’s energy needs.
As the nation’s largest oil and natural gas producer, Texas is leading the way to affordably and reliably meet energy demand while reducing emissions worldwide by exporting liquified natural gas (LNG).
Here at home, the U.S. leads the world in CO2 reductions thanks to expanded use of natural gas for power generation. In the last decade, our population and real GDP increased, while emissions declined, proving we can have high quality of life, a thriving economy, and advance climate progress simultaneously.
Industry-led initiatives are driving our environmental progress. In Texas, over 40 companies and trade associations launched the Texas Methane & Flaring Coalition, focused on industry-led solutions to minimize flaring and methane emissions. The Environmental Partnership was formed to reduce the industry’s environmental footprint, while safely and responsibly growing energy production. Companies are investing heavily in technologies such as carbon capture and sequestration, leak detection and repair, state-of-the-art monitoring systems, and more efficient engines using cleaner fuel.
Few regions demonstrate this type of progress more so than Texas’ Southern Gulf Coast. The shale revolution, critical infrastructure, and smart economic development tools have ferried a wave of over $50 billion in private capital investments around the Corpus Christi Ship Channel. And thanks to the Corpus Christi Air Quality Partnership, a collective of industry, government, business, and community leaders, local air quality consistently bests the Environmental Protection Agency’s ozone standards through voluntary implementation of best practices.
As a proud citizen of the United States of America, a native Texan, and a millennial, I have enjoyed these life and livelihood benefits as a birthright. As an expecting father, I work so that the next generation can have them as well. Innovation, technology, and the entrepreneurial spirit of the hundreds of thousands of Texas’ women and men working in the oil and natural gas industry have proven that a thriving economy, a modern lifestyle, and environmental stewardship are not mutually exclusive.
The elections may have highlighted our differences, but we can thrive by focusing on what brings us together. We all want a lower-emissions, high-prosperity future, and we have a proven path to achieve it.
Matt Garcia is the Texas Oil and Gas Association’s director of community relations for Corpus Christi and the Coastal Bend.