Re­mem­ber all that is pos­si­ble be­cause of oil and nat­u­ral gas


With 100-plus years of oil and nat­u­ral gas his­tory in Texas, it may be tempt­ing to take for granted all that is pos­si­ble be­cause we are the na­tion’s No. 1 state for oil and nat­u­ral gas pro­duc­tion, pipe­line miles and re­fin­ing ca­pac­ity. To­day, Tex­ans from far and wide will re­mind law­mak­ers in Austin that those ac­co­lades trans­late into jobs, state and lo­cal tax rev­enue and fi­nan­cial se­cu­rity for our state.

On Texas En­ergy Day, 25-plus cham­bers of com­merce, trade as­so­ci­a­tions and or­ga­ni­za­tions that span the state will join forces to re­in­force how oil and nat­u­ral gas keep Tex­ans safe and se­cure in our homes and lives.

Lately, we are re­minded that state and lo­cal tax rev­enue paid by the oil and nat­u­ral gas in­dus­try is not guar­an­teed. Yet, even in a down mar­ket, the Texas oil and nat­u­ral gas in­dus­try paid $9.4 bil­lion in state and lo­cal taxes and state roy­al­ties in fis­cal year 2016 — an av­er­age of $26 mil­lion a day. This rev­enue is used to di­rectly fund our schools, uni­ver­si­ties, roads and first re­spon­ders ev­ery year.

Since 2007, the oil and nat­u­ral gas in­dus­try has paid $108 bil­lion in state and lo­cal prop­erty taxes and state roy­al­ties — a fig­ure that would fi­nance the cur­rent an­nual state bud­gets for the Univer­sity of Texas and Texas A&M Univer­sity com­bined for well over 100 years.

The State’s Rainy Day Fund, with a cur­rent bal­ance north of $10.1 bil­lion, is funded al­most ex­clu­sively by oil and nat­u­ral gas sev­er­ance taxes. Over the past five years, the oil and nat­u­ral gas in­dus­try has con­trib­uted more than $8.3 bil­lion to the Rainy Day Fund, which pro­vides a level of fi­nan­cial se­cu­rity that most states do not en­joy.

Lo­cal en­ti­ties also ben­e­fit from oil and nat­u­ral gas tax rev­enue. In fis­cal year 2016, Texas school dis­tricts re­ceived $1.7 bil­lion in prop­erty taxes from min­eral prop­er­ties pro­duc­ing oil and gas, pipe­lines and gas util­i­ties. Coun­ties re­ceived $529.8 mil­lion in oil and nat­u­ral gas min­eral prop­erty taxes.

Clearly, oil and nat­u­ral gas con­trib­utes might­ily to Texas in good times and lean times. For­tu­nately, we are see­ing signs of re­cov­ery as prices sta­bi­lize and ac­tiv­ity re­turns to oil and nat­u­ral gas fields. Af­ter years of con­trac­tion, new oil and nat­u­ral gas jobs re­turned ev­ery month be­tween Septem­ber and De­cem­ber, with 4,700 Tex­ans back at work.

Be­yond the dol­lars, cents and di­rect jobs, oil and nat­u­ral gas en­rich our lives and keep us safe ev­ery day.

Be­cause of abun­dant nat­u­ral gas, we have ac­cess to clean, af­ford­able and re­li­able power. Ac­cord­ing to data from the In­ter­na­tional En­ergy Agency, an es­ti­mated 1.2 bil­lion peo­ple world­wide do not have ac­cess to elec­tric­ity — the very foun­da­tion of per­sonal safety and well-be­ing.

Here, nat­u­ral gas keeps en­ergy lo­cal and af­ford­able for Texas fam­i­lies. In 2015, the av­er­age Amer­i­can fam­ily en­joyed more than $1,300 in en­ergy-re­lated sav­ings.

Not ev­ery­one in Amer­ica is en­joy­ing in­ex­pen­sive elec­tric­ity — be­cause some peo­ple don’t have ad­e­quate ac­cess to pipe­line in­fra­struc­ture, the safest way to de­liver oil and nat­u­ral gas. For ex­am­ple, peo­ple in New Eng­land pay the high­est elec­tric­ity rates in the con­ti­nen­tal U.S. Dur­ing the win­ters of 2014 and 2015, res­i­dents there paid about $7 bil­lion more than neigh­bor­ing re­gions for elec­tric­ity.

Given en­ergy’s cen­tral role in ba­sic health and safety, it’s clear that those who ad­vo­cate for re­stricted ac­cess to re­li­able power or en­ergy in­fra­struc­ture are not ad­vo­cates for the peo­ple. In fact, the ef­forts of ac­tivists against oil and nat­u­ral gas put peo­ple at risk, threaten jobs and pinch fam­ily bud­gets.

For­tu­nately, we don’t live in an ei­ther-or world. We can pro­duce more en­ergy, grow our econ­omy and con­tinue to im­prove the en­vi­ron­ment while re­duc­ing our de­pen­dence on other coun­tries for our en­ergy needs.

What Texas needs now as we ease out of this dra­matic down­turn is for our law­mak­ers to look closely at what makes Texas a good place to do busi­ness.

On Texas En­ergy Day and be­yond, we’ll urge law­mak­ers to main­tain their com­mit­ment to science-based reg­u­la­tions, reau­tho­rize the Rail­road Com­mis­sion of Texas, prop­erly fund the Rail­road Com­mis­sion and Texas Com­mis­sion on En­vi­ron­men­tal Qual­ity, and en­cour­age the crit­i­cal in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment our grow­ing state needs. All Tex­ans ben­e­fit when their lead­ers em­brace smart pol­icy that al­lows the oil and nat­u­ral gas in­dus­try to pro­vide for Texas — and se­cure our econ­omy, en­vi­ron­ment and fu­ture.

Re: March 4 ar­ti­cle, “ICE in Austin: Sher­iff had re­leased im­mi­grant ar­rested at court­house.”

I have to com­pli­ment the States­man on your con­sis­tency. The Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment sto­ries and head­lines show your view­point — and it should be in the com­men­tary sec­tion. The same goes for your cov­er­age of our pres­i­dent. You have an agenda and oc­ca­sion­ally re­port real de­tails of the story in the third or fourth para­graph like the story that ran in the print edi­tion with the head­line “New ICE tac­tic? Im­mi­grant is ar­rested at court­house.” Give us a break.

Why the States­man re­ports these sto­ries with such bias is so sad. The States­man from a news-re­port­ing ba­sis is any­thing but un­bi­ased. Truly a sad source for news.

Re: March 5 ar­ti­cle, “7 things fam­i­lies with im­mi­grant mem­bers should know” and March 5 ar­ti­cle, “Austin ICE raids: Meet the im­mi­grants ar­rested.”

The ar­ti­cle de­scribes seven

Re: March 6 ar­ti­cle, “Austin, Manor school dis­tricts launch work­force train­ing academies.”

The ar­ti­cle talked about some schools pre­par­ing grad­u­ates for jobs. Be­tween 1981 and 1984, Ray­mon Bynum was com­mis­sioner of ed­u­ca­tion. His goal was that ev­ery grad­u­ate would have a sal­able skill. Then a group took over the Leg­is­la­ture who thought ev­ery­one should be in a col­lege prepara­tory pro­gram.

Af­ter 30 years on that mis­di­rec­tion we are back at help­ing grad­u­ates be pre­pared for jobs. All jobs don’t re­quire a col­lege de­gree. How hard is that for leg­is­la­tors to un­der­stand? Have they had their toi­let fixed lately? Or their hair cut? Or their car re­paired? Those who pro­vided these ser­vices make more than many col­lege grads.

Re: March 8 ar­ti­cle, “Transgender bathroom bill draws hundreds to tes­tify.”

I wish our gover­nor, lieu­tenant gover­nor and the Texas Leg­is­la­ture spent as much time on im­por­tant fis­cal is­sues as they do on so­cial is­sues that are none of their busi­ness, like abor­tion and which bathroom we should use. Have we be­come a so­ci­ety of id­iots that can no longer think and make these de­ci­sions on our own?

We do not need more gov­ern­ment in lives. By the way, ladies, if the bathroom bill passes, you will no longer be able to slip into the men’s room when the line for the ladies room is too long, as you will be break­ing the law!


Jonathan Sessler, the UT in­ven­tor of the year, walks through a chem­istry lab. A reader is grate­ful that the States­man told the story Kessler wanted us to learn.


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