Guest Commentary: Texas will lead the way in energy production

Published on Friday, 19 May 2017 12:00 - Written by

Texas is on the verge of a new energy revolution. The potential for job creation, economic prosperity and investment in our energy sector is almost limitless.

There were 15 oil fields and 8 gas fields discovered in Texas in 2016, including the largest oil and gas deposit in U.S. history - 20 billion barrels of oil and 16 trillion cubic feet of natural gas worth an estimated $900 billion in the Permian Basin.

In East Texas, we recently heard from the United States Geologic Survey (USGS) that the combined Haynesville and Bossier shales contain an estimated 304 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, a 330 percent increase over their 2010 estimate. To put that in perspective, these two shales are estimated to contain enough natural gas to meet the United States’ total need for twelve years.

Texas is estimated to contain nearly one-third (11.76 billion barrels) of the nation’s proven oil reserves and more than 25 percent (85.3 trillion cubic feet) of its proven natural gas reserves.

Key to ensuring Texas remains the national leader in energy is reducing regulatory roadblocks to energy exploration and production, without compromising public or environmental safety. I will carry this message with me soon when I attend my first Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC) as Gov. Greg Abbott’s appointee for Texas.

The IOGCC is one of the oldest, largest, and most important interstate compacts in the nation. It was formed more than 80 years ago when six states joined together to resolve common issues and share best practices for industry regulation, minimizing federal intervention.

I’m especially proud to represent our state on this important Commission given my East Texas roots and my dedication to private property rights and fighting federal overreach.

IOGCC’s formation can in part be traced back to my home region of East Texas, where in 1930 Columbus “Dad” Joiner struck oil outside Kilgore in what became known as the East Texas Field. That discovery launched an oil rush, the likes of which our nation had never seen, bringing to light a number of issues that would change the course of the oil and gas industry for decades to come.

What was happening in the East Texas Field was also happening in other states. The absence of virtually any regulation led to overproduction and waste of natural resources. The situation was so bad in the East Texas Field that Gov. Ross Sterling ordered the Texas National Guard and Texas Rangers out to the region to maintain order.

That combination of the oil field chaos and lack of regulatory certainty from states, led to serious discussions by Congress about whether the federal government, not the states, should regulate the production of oil and gas. Fortunately, a compromise was reached and interstate compact (IOGCC) would be formed by oil producing states to cooperatively craft uniform conservation laws.

The production of domestic energy is vital to all Americans, but what works in Texas might not work in North Dakota, Ohio, or even Oklahoma. With such massive differences in geology, population, and political climate, it makes more sense for states to collaborate on best practices, then implement what makes sense for their respective regions.

IOGCC is an incubator for ideas and shaping a shared vision for our nation’s energy future in ways that protect state sovereignty and prevent the federal government from imposing one-size-fits-all mandates from Washington D.C.

As the nation’s largest energy producer Texas has much to share with other oil and gas producing states. In Texas, commonsense regulation is the rule, not the exception. Our state must be a leader in any discussion on energy production policy; not only our state’s economic future, but our nation’s economic future depends on this important work.

Wayne Christian is a member of the Texas Railroad Commission.