The Rio Grande Valley (RGV) is among the fastest growing regions in the United States. According to the US Census Bureau, between 1990 and 2020, McAllen and the neighboring cities of Edinburg and Mission grew sixfold to nearly 871,000 people. By the year 2040, the population of the entire RGV is expected to grow to 2.5 million people, according to a report issued by Rubi Group Capital. 

Along with this population growth have come jobs and economic opportunity, with a large portion of it coming from the oil and gas industry and the shipment of liquified natural gas because of the booming Eagle Ford Shale. With the production of one million barrels of oil per day and the region accounting for 4.4 percent of all natural gas production in the United States, the RGV has benefited tremendously from the fossil fuel industry. 

Fossil fuels and the jobs in that industry have played a pivotal role in the RGV’s growth over the last several decades, and that job growth should continue with constant technological innovation. As the Dallas Federal Reserve points out, “recent advances in horizontal drilling technology allow companies to extract oil and natural gas from shale, bringing new jobs and growing wealth to many rural communities in South Texas.”

However, leaders in Congress and the White House are debating policies that could have a major impact on Texas and the RGV’s growth. Environmental legislation like the Green New Deal being pushed by Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, could eliminate the fossil fuel industry as we know it. This would put thousands of South Texans out of work and lead to painful economic consequences in the RGV. 

There is nothing wrong with seeking to preserve our environment. In fact, it is a noble goal and one that I share. However, preserving the livelihoods of Texans must be at the top of any legislative priority. Protecting our environment and jobs do not have to be mutually exclusive.

That is why I am a proud Advisory Board Member of the Carbon Neutral Coalition (CNC). With the stated of goal of making Texas carbon neutral by the year 2050, CNC is working to capture the carbon currently being emitted by energy companies and store it underground. Through a process called Carbon Capture Underground Storage (CCUS), we are seeking to establish the infrastructure that will allow energy companies to inject carbon into permanent storage. 

This process would ensure the fossil fuel industry in Texas remains vibrant, while opening a brand-new economic pipeline for our farmers and ranchers. In exchange for a fee, the agriculture industry can offer their land to store the excess carbon, generating another source of revenue for them. This would be particularly beneficial to the RGV, which has one of the largest agricultural industries in the state. 

Now is the time for the state of Texas to step up and protect the fossil fuel industry while safeguarding our environment by putting in place the legislation that allows the private sector to utilize CCUS. Texas has become a global economic powerhouse thanks in large part to the energy industry, and we must protect it. Join us at https://carbonneutralcoalition.com/ and become part of the movement. 

Editor’s Note: The above guest column was penned by Tina Yturria Buford, an Advisory Board Member of the Carbon Neutral Coalition and Director of Education for the East Foundation. The column appears in The Rio Grande Guardian International News Service with the permission of the author. Yturria Buford can be reached by email via: [email protected].


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