Bubbling crude… oil that is… black gold… Texas tea… a few of us remember the Beverly Hillbillies.
West Texas represents to me a microcosm of some of the many challenges we face today; the tension between growth, convenience, natural preservation and environmental protection.
West Texas is an area that encapsulates these challenges perhaps better than any other. We all know (well, apparently everyone but one) that health care is complicated. So isn’t energy.
We left the Guadalupe Mountains National Park to head south and east towards San Antonio via back roads (always our preference). Along the way, we were in what must have been some of the most remote places in West Texas, with quite frankly little apparent value in the land. I mean, it was flat, arid, and inhospitable.
Then we started seeing signs of oil fields, as far as the eyes could see. For hours we traveled these back roads where 90% of the traffic were trucks hauling oil, chemicals or aggregates of some form. As far as the eye could see were oil fields, trenches for new oil lines, construction of retention ponds, and pipes venting natural gas flames from oil wells.
My first impression was, well, at least this land has some value, because I was not seeing that value otherwise.
I am not an oilman, so consider your source. Oil fields are a web of disparate wells, holding tanks and pipes that eventually make it to some central distribution point and then get piped (or trucked or trained) to a central refinery.
Keep in mind that we just enjoyed Carlsbad Caverns and Guadalupe Mountains National Parks. And previously we have (and do) enjoy Big Bend National Park, all of which are in some way within this sphere of impact from all this oil activity. Certainly the Big Bend area may be the most impacted as the Trans-Pecos Pipeline is planned to deliver US oil into Mexico.
Our needs are not islands; there are costs and consequences that we need to be mindful.