Moreno: Undermining oil and gas industry would be devastating
Oil and gas companies investing more in being green than government and private sector combined
By Stephanie Moreno, Executive Director, South Texas Energy & Economic Roundtable (STEER)
October 20, 2020
This column originally appeared in the Beeville Bee-Picayune.
The oil and natural gas industry has been mentioned several times during this presidential cycle. A fight over who said what and when about hydraulic fracturing (commonly referred to as fracking) has dominated our Twitter, Facebook feeds and media outlets. Comments from people across the country about the oil and natural gas industry show a striking disconnect from what we know to be true as people who live, work and raise families alongside pumpjacks. We know that modern life, our health, our jobs and our economy depend on products, power and tax revenue generated by the oil and natural gas industry. Just “getting rid of” oil and natural gas is not only unrealistic, it puts our families and communities at risk.
Republicans and Democrats alike know that here in South Texas, in the heart of the Eagle Ford Shale, there is no way you can end the reliance we have on oil and natural gas for affordable, reliable energy, but the threat is very real. Oil and natural gas are the building blocks for 96% of the products we use every day. We cannot completely transition from oil and natural gas today, we cannot do it in 10 years, and we cannot do it in 50 years. But what we can and are doing today is making our carbon footprint smaller through innovation and technology. And nothing encourages innovation and technology more than a free market where companies are able to invent and invest to improve lives and protect the environment.
The oil and natural gas industry, despite how they may be portrayed in some ad campaigns, have invested more in low carbon technologies than the rest of the private sector and government combined. Protecting the environment while continuing to provide the reliable and affordable energy our families need is not new. It is something the industry has been working towards for decades and we have seen significant progress. From the year 2000 to 2016, the oil and natural gas industry invested over $300 billion in greenhouse gas mitigating technologies. As Todd Staples, president of the Texas Oil & Gas Association said in a recent interview, “This industry will continue to lead the way with the investments, innovations, advancements, and pioneering technologies that are driving environmental progress, the same way it has over the past few decades, making America’s environment cleaner than ever before.” Employees of oil and natural gas companies live in the communities in which they operate, and they all breath the same air that each of us do. We all care about our environment. No political party owns that claim.
As the executive director of the South Texas Energy & Economic Roundtable, I am lucky enough to work alongside companies who care about the small, rural communities that produce energy for people here and across the world. Not only did they step up during the COVID-19 crisis to donate food, grants, and personal protective equipment to local communities, but these are the same companies which sponsor our little league teams, chambers of commerce, and countless other community events benefiting people we love , year after year.
As a former County Judge, I know how much of our local tax revenue is paid by the oil and natural gas industry. These revenues fund our sheriff’s offices, rural hospitals, our public school systems and millions of dollars’ worth of other services we rely on. Many alternate sources of energy receive tax credits and pay a fraction of the taxes the oil and natural gas industry pays. Smart policy would be to support a market based expansion of all forms of energy because undermining oil and natural gas would be devastating to our state and local budgets and put property owners on the hook to make up the deficits.
In a world where fact checkers need to be fact checked, each of us will need to do our own research before heading to the polls over the next couple weeks. It is a long ballot this year with local, state and federal elections all on one ticket, but it may be one of the most important elections of a lifetime.