A Texas Congressman launched the Congressional Oil and Gas Caucus focusing on oil, gas, and other petroleum products, according to a report by E&E News.
Rep. Vicente González (D-Texas), freshman representative of southern Texas’ 15th District, said in a press release, “The 15th District of Texas is home to several refineries, pipelines, and part of the Eagle Ford Shale – I have witnessed the effects of a thriving oil and gas industry firsthand.”
The caucus will take an all-encompassing approach to oil and gas production, according to González, who sees oil and gas advocacy as recognition of “how the industry works and its importance for the communities in my district, across the country, and around the world.”
Aryn Fields, press secretary for Rep. González, told Western Wire that the response to the newly formed oil and gas caucus has been positive.
“It is something that has definitely been needed here in the House to represent those issues and an industry that is growing and becoming more innovative,” Fields said.
González hopes to draw other members of Congress from across the country who share his appreciation for the economic benefits of oil and gas development. González’s district includes the Eagle Ford Shale formation, which along with other formations in the state has produced 3.8 million jobs, $473 billion in gross product, and billions in royalty payments to landowners.
The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas (TAMEST) released a study earlier this week concluding, “Energy exploration and development activities in Texas’ shale plays have resulted in primarily positive effects on local, regional, and state economies.”
In addition, Texans for Natural Gas (TNG) released a report in May that identified the total impact of increased liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports, with 70,000 jobs created in Texas alone and a $145 billion economic boost to the country overall.
“I hope that the Oil & Gas Caucus can serve as a space for members from all over the country to learn more about the oil and gas industry and come away not only with a better understanding of the scientific and technical aspects, but also gain a better understanding of how technological advancements and growth benefit all of us,” said González.
González, who will serve as the caucus chairman, sees a “thriving” industry marked by growth and technological innovation.
“We have seen the United States become the world’s leading producer of oil and natural gas,” González said.
Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), ranking member of the Committee of Agriculture, has joined the oil and gas caucus, along with three Texas House Democrats. Rep. Filemon Vela, Jr. and Rep. Henry Cuellar, whose districts share boundaries with González’s in southern Texas, are joined by Rep. Gene Green, who represents portions of the greater Houston area.
While initial recruitment efforts have focused on the Democrat’s colleagues in the House, Fields acknowledged that with Republican control of both houses in Congress, bipartisanship was a priority for Congressman González and the oil and gas caucus.
“The congressman is focused on and dedicated to bipartisanship and making sure common sense policies can be passed,” said Fields.
González’s caucus and participation from fellow House Democrats stands out compared to other members of his party who introduced bills targeting the oil and gas industry earlier this year. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) and Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) were joined by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) in introducing a package of bills called the “Safe Energy Future Plan” that targeted oil and gas production and hydraulic fracturing.
Senate Democrats, led by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) have introduced the “Keep It in the Ground Act” which would prohibit the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management from permitting nonproducing leases or any exploration for oil and gas “or any other fossil fuel in the Arctic Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, or any other area of the Outer Continental Shelf.”