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PHARR, RGV – Major investment by oil and gas companies in Texas has made the United States more energy secure than at any time in its history.

This is the view of Todd Staples, president of the Texas Oil & Gas Association. The group, working with the Rio Grande Valley Partnership, is putting on the TXOGA Energy Summit at the Pharr Events Center on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018.

In an interview with the Rio Grande Guardian and Rio Grande Valley Public Radio 88 FM, Staples said he hopes the people of the Valley will attend the summit to learn how the oil and natural gas industry is powering their community.

Todd Staples

“I think all Texans understand the importance of energy security. Because of the investment in Texas by oil and gas companies, not only are we creating jobs, not only are we using the revenues generated to help build our schools, and fund our road system, but our nation is more energy secure than ever before,” said Staples, a former state senator and Texas agriculture commissioner.

“Because of the investment in research and technology, and the advances that have been made, Texans have a more reliable and affordable energy supply. This story is something every Texans needs to be aware of.”

The percentage of gross domestic product generated by oil and natural gas varies according the price of oil. However, it is substantial. “I want to say we are 29 percent of GDP today. That is direct and indirect combined,” Staples said. “Texas is the largest oil and natural gas producer in the nation. We are home to about 30 percent of our nation’s refining capacity and the largest amount of pipeline miles. This infrastructure of the pipelines is what ties it all together and makes gasoline available at the convenience store across our state for our citizens.”

TXOGA is a statewide trade association with approximately 5,000 members representing every facet of the Texas oil and gas industry including small independents and major producers. Collectively, TXOGA members account for over 90 percent of all oil and natural gas produced in Texas. They operate a vast majority of the State’s pipeline mileage and gas processing capacity, and they are responsible for a preponderance of the State’s refining capacity.

In addition to Staples, the lineup of speakers at the TXOGA/RGVP summit includes state Senators Eddie Lucio, Jr., and Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, Pharr Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez, RGV Partnership CEO Sergio Contreras, Port of Brownsville Director & CEO Eduardo Campirano, UT-Austin’s director for Institutional Relations-Mexico, Jorge R. Piñon, and Enbridge director of business development Kurt Knight-Turcan.

“We are excited about the lineup of speakers we have. The Rio Grande Valley is an extremely important region of Texas. It is growing, it is dynamic. Its affordable energy supplies will enable that growth to continue,” Staples said.

Energy experts say fracking has boosted the Texas energy scene over the past decade. Asked how he responds to environmentalists critical of fracking, Staples said: “Hydraulic fracturing is highly regulated, there are multiple layers of steel and cement that are used to protect our water supply and the naysayers are just flat wrong about their criticisms.”

Staples said it is important to point out that “carbon dioxide emissions and methane emissions have decreased substantially over the last two decades.” All the while, he said, production has skyrocketed. “We van demonstrate that we can have a robust economy and a healthy environment all at the same time.”

Asked about the importance of Mexico to the Texas energy industry, Staples said: “We recognized the valuable relationship of our neighbors in Mexico. Texas oil and gas is investing heavily. Natural gas exports to Mexico are at an all-time high.”

Asked about the new United States-Mexico-Canada free trade agreement, Staples said: “We are very thankful the administration is trying to do the USMCA agreement. We think it is a step forward to renew the agreement. Obviously, nothing is perfect but it does represent progress and we think the safeguards are there that will enable our three countries to continue to strive towards energy independence. Quite frankly, North America, the relationships with Mexico, the United States and Canada really does have the opportunity to be more energy independent than ever before as we work with one another to meet our needs.”

The new president of Mexico, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has been sharply critical of his predecessor’s energy policy. Asked about this, Staples said: “We have great friends in Mexico. We hope this new administration will enable our industries to continue to work together to benefit both countries.”

Staples concluded the interview by saying: 

“In fiscal year 2017, Texas oil and natural gas companies paid just over 11 billion dollars in state and local taxes and state royalties. Those dollars fund our schools, our roads, our universities, and first responders. That is why this event should be important to everyone in the Rio Grande Valley.”

Tickets for the summit cost $20 and a lunch is included. Doors open at 10:30 a.m. with the program finishing at 2 p.m. To register got to www.txoga.org/rgvsummit

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