In a sweeping victory for America’s oil and gas industry, Republican businessman James “Jim” Wright comfortably won a seat on Texas’ energy regulator with 53% of the vote.
Wright’s challenger, energy lawyer Chrysta Castaneda (D), took in 43% of the vote. Castaneda had vowed to put climate change on the agency of the Texas Railroad Commission, but Texas voters weren’t interested.
Instead, the voters, which also threw their support behind President Donald Trump, favored the industry that largely support’s the state’s finances with the 4.7 million barrels of oil produced every day.
Another of Castaneda’s promises was to end flaring and venting—a mainstay of the oil industry, particularly when natural gas prices are low. Natural gas is the necessary by-product of oil production, and when takeaway capacity for natural gas is constrained or prices for nat gas run negative, few—if any—good choices exist.
In contrast, Wright promised to increase oil production in the state and to find additional markets for the excess natural gas that comes with that production.
According to the Texas Oil & Gas Association, the oil and gas industry in Texas contributed $16 billion in state and local taxes and state royalties in fiscal 2019. Since 2007, the total paid has been near $150 billion.
Texas is home to the most prolific shale basin in the United States, the Permian Basin.
Texas has hemorrhaged thousands of oil and gas jobs this year during the price crash, which likely contributed to the voters’ preference to protect its oil-derived revenue streams during this election cycle.