Fracking – and cheap oil and gas – has led to a revival of manufacturing in Texas
We’ve experienced a tumultuous year as a nation and more than an ample share of uncertainty around the globe. Even in these challenging times, we have many reasons to give thanks in Texas and we can tip our hats to the men and women of the oil and natural gas industry and the resources under our feet for a good bit of our good fortune here.
As recently as 2005, back when I served East Texas in our state senate, our country imported nearly 65 percent of the oil we consumed each day. Since then, safe and responsible fracking and horizontal drilling have allowed us to cut our dependence on foreign oil by more than half and our nation is more secure because of it.
Fracking is a time-tested and proven process that lasts from three to five days to create tiny cracks in deep shale rock to free trapped oil and natural gas.
In fact, this technology that revolutionized oil and natural gas development was perfected right here in Texas, starting nearly 70 years ago.
Today, most of the oil and natural gas in Texas — including the recently confirmed 20 billion barrels of oil in the West Texas Wolfcamp formation — would be unreachable without fracking. Thanks to this Texas-born innovation, our state is the No. 1 oil and natural gas producer in the nation and the U.S. is a new, preeminent energy power.
And we’re putting all of that oil and natural gas to good use and doing so while protecting the environment. Regulations are working to protect the Texas environment while delivering abundant natural gas that keeps Texas electricity affordable. Because of fracking, the average household saved $800 in energy costs last year. Without fracking, electricity prices would increase significantly, hurting low- and fixed-income Texans the most.
Natural gas also plays an important role in renewable energy development. Natural gas is often used as the backup power source for renewable energy facilities that can only provide power when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining.
In the midst of this progress and pocketbook savings for Texans, the oil and natural gas industry is improving our environment. U.S. carbon dioxide emissions just hit a new 25-year low as more power plants switch to natural gas. And our water is safe because wells are required by law to be constructed with multiple layers of steel and cement to protect groundwater.
Each well is pressure tested to ensure its integrity before fracking takes place.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency confirmed that these regulations are working when it published its five-year study that found fracking does not pose a threat to our nation’s water system.
In addition to providing energy security and a safe and improving environment, the oil and natural gas industry’s contribution to our overall economy can’t be overstated. In addition to the hundreds of thousands of Texans who have a job in oil and natural gas, fracking has led to a revival of manufacturing in our state.
More broadly, industries that span our economy rely on the oil and natural gas industry. From healthcare to agriculture and transportation to information technology, every economic sector must have reliable, affordable power. And in Texas, they have it and our economy is stronger for it.
So as we give thanks for the bounties of freedom and blessings this holiday season, let’s also give thanks to the men and women of the Texas oil and natural gas industry, who play such an important role in our economy, our environment and our future.
— Todd Staples, a former Texas Agriculture Commissioner and state senator, is president of the Texas Oil and Gas Association.