Railroad Commissioner: Hear me out, President Biden. Don’t write off oil and gas.

As President Joe Biden took office, White House staff changed out photographs in hallways, newly appointed Cabinet members familiarized themselves with briefing materials and new stationery memorializing the arrival of the 46th president of the United States was printed. Change is everywhere in Washington.

In stark contrast, Americans across the nation are plagued with the same challenges that they faced before. A global pandemic that has claimed over 402,000 American lives continues to wreak havoc, with no end in sight. In its wreckage, families struggle to make ends meet in an economy that flounders under the weight of international and domestic factors, including political turmoil, foreign price wars and supply chain deficiencies. Unemployment rates have stagnated at a staggering 6.7 percent.

While the name might be confusing, the Railroad Commission of Texas regulates the oil and gas industry in the single largest oil-producing state in our nation. Alongside surface mining, pipeline safety and alternative fuels, this agency seeks to responsibly produce our state’s abundant resources for the benefit of all Texans with sensible and practical regulation. As chairman of the Railroad Commission of Texas, I am proud of the significant economic impact this industry provides to our state and the nation. Producing over 41 percent of the nation’s oil, Texas energy producers leave a massive footprint on our economy. Last year, according to the Texas Oil and Gas Association, the industry paid $13.9 billion in state and local taxes and state royalty payments.

Over 400,000 Texans were directly employed by oil and natural gas companies last year, with average incomes that more than double the national average. Indirectly, each oil and natural gas job creates an additional 2.4 jobs in Texas. All in, the oil and natural gas industry was responsible for employing nearly 1 million Texans last year alone. These companies help provide some of the most affordable energy prices to families across the state at 8.6 cents/kWh compared to the national average of 10.54 cents/kWh. Tax revenues and refined products keep our roads paved, teachers employed and hospitals supplied.

Texas is not the only state that faces dire consequences. In Pennsylvania, over 60,000 individuals are employed by the oil, natural gas, coal and nuclear production industries. Natural gas drilling has provided the state with nearly $2 billion in revenue since 2012, funding roads, parks, first responders and agricultural preservation across the state. In New Mexico, according to the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association and the American Petroleum Institute, over 62,000 jobs stand to be lost to a fracking ban on federal lands, totaling 5 percent of the state’s overall workforce, and over $1.1 billion in state revenue would disappear. In California, a state that has already begun to enact policies that pick energy winners and losers, communities face rolling blackouts and soaring energy costs as a result of an unreliable energy grid.

President Biden has been very clear about his intent to dismantle this industry. He specifically denotes his support of the Green New Deal and lays out a series of day one action items by executive order that include limitations on methane emissions from oil and gas operators, restricting building and construction options to eliminate traditional fuels in favor of green options, and requiring public disclosure of “climate risk” by publicly traded oil and gas companies.

The restrictions he seeks to place on the American oil and gas industry will have a clear effect on the Texas oil and gas industry and will lead to increased energy costs, increased unemployment rates and an increased dependency on foreign oil. While Americans struggle to pay their bills and keep food on the table, this shift in energy policy will make the road to recovery even longer and American families simply cannot withstand any further delay in economic stabilization.

In his inaugural speech, Biden made a plea to Americans who do not support his ideals. “To all those who did not support us, let me say this. Hear me out as we move forward. Take a measure of me and my heart. If you still disagree, so be it. That’s democracy. That’s America.” President Biden, I implore you to heed your own advice. This democracy, this America, desperately needs a president who will do exactly what you have asked of them — to hear us out as we move forward and take measure of our hearts.

My ask is simple: as you assume office, take measure of the needs of every American who has suffered through the economic turmoil of the last year. Instead of immediately signing energy and climate policies into law that will cause detrimental harm to American families across the country, hear me out. Allow Americans to get back to work, provide for their families and keep the lights on.

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