The oil-and-gas industry helps power the U.S. economy, especially here in Texas. More than 300,000 Texans work in the industry. They generate nearly 7 percent of the wages in our state, despite being only a little more than 3 percent of our workforce.
More than 90 percent of the wells in our country are operated by small and independent businesses, and even the major energy companies rely on small businesses as suppliers and contractors. Together these workers and businesses help reduce our dependence on foreign oil and contribute to the diversity of energy resources that we will need for decades to come.
Domestic oil and gas production is part of America’s energy solution, but many in Washington see the industry as part of the problem. As a member of the Senate Finance Committee, I heard the Obama administration testify this month that our domestic oil-and-gas industry actually reduces our long-term energy security. In their view, our industry is guilty of overproduction, at a time when 60 percent of our oil comes from foreign sources.
To attack overproduction, the White House wants to repeal nine oil and gas incentives that encourage our entrepreneurs to develop America’s natural resources and create new jobs. By doing so, the administration would impose more than $30 billion in new taxes over 10 years.
Texans would pay the biggest share of that bill, and some might pay by going out of business. For example, independent refineries must make the same large capital investments as their global competitors, while operating on much thinner profit margins. Raising taxes now could end their ability to compete and send more Texans to the unemployment line.
Higher taxes would cost jobs here in Texas and weaken our nation’s strategic position overseas. The less oil and gas we produce here, the more dependent we are on foreign suppliers. And no matter which suppliers we choose, unfriendly regimes like Iran and Venezuela would claim a larger share of the global energy market.
In addition, U.S. private businesses would be further disadvantaged compared to their state-owned competitors, such as Russia’s Gazprom and Brazil’s Petrobras.
The White House has ignored strategic and economic reality and elevated liberal ideology. Despite identifying a goal we all share — the diversification of America’s energy supplies — they have pursued a more statist agenda in pursuit of “the greatest social return.” But raising taxes on our oil and gas producers won’t produce the return we want. Instead, we would only weaken our energy security, force many businesses to close or lay off workers and lengthen the longest and deepest recession in a generation.
Texans understand that we must develop all potential sources of energy, and we also understand the right way to do it. Thanks to economic incentives and private investment, Texas now has more than 8,000 megawatts of installed wind capacity, more than twice that of any other state.
We’ve also strongly supported the construction of new nuclear power plants, which emit zero greenhouse gases into our atmosphere. The entrepreneurial spirit, rather than government command and control, remains the key to technological innovation, as well as greater job growth for all of us.
The preceding op-ed by Senator Cornyn was published in the Houston Chronicle, and can also be accessed here.