Commentary: Setting the record straight on West Ranch water

By Ed Longanecker

From time to time, news outlets produce stories and headlines that lack the critical details that would otherwise allow their readers to have the full context, and thus a much better understanding, of a particular story. Now, the majority of the time this is not done intentionally or out of malice, but simply due to tight deadlines, column space or over-worked journalists attempting to keep up with a 24 hour news cycle.

That said, as an advocate for Texas’ energy industry and an advocate for job creation and a robust economy in the Lone Star State, I try to weigh in when I come across a story that just doesn’t quite shine enough light on an important matter.

Regarding a recent article and editorial in the Houston Chronicle about an enhanced oil recovery project in Jackson County, I feel I have the responsibility to ensure the true details of the West Ranch project are understood.

READ: In Jackson County, a fight between oil and water

Texas is a leader in the oil and gas industry and Hilcorp certainly plays its part. The West Ranch project has a significant economic impact to both the state of Texas and the local community in the form of taxes, royalties and job creation. During the various phases of the project, Hilcorp will employ hundreds at West Ranch, both directly and through the many companies that will provide goods and services for the project. This type of impact literally changes the lives of every day Texans and their families.

But, economics isn’t my only concern, nor that of our industry. Many not in the oil and gas business fail to recognize is that if we don’t take care of the land we operate on and produce, it will not take care of us. Poor environmental practices and a lack of care for how we treat a precious commodity such as our land and water would result in immediate economic loss, stifled long-term development, higher taxes and a state that leads the nation in unemployment rather than job creation. Nobody wants that.

In addition to the volumes of technical work that has gone into the project to ensure that is executed in a safe and successful manner, there is a robust groundwater monitoring plan that has been developed for the West Ranch project. With over 400 monitoring wells, Hilcorp has implemented one of the most extensive monitoring programs for an enhanced oil recovery project in the United States. Hilcorp implemented this monitoring program in order to be a responsible and prudent operator.

Unfortunately, these very important facts were not clearly outlined in the recent story and editorial in the Chronicle.

This project is one to be celebrated, not feared. Not only will the West Ranch project produce an additional domestic energy that could not otherwise be produced, it will be done through the beneficial use of carbon dioxide captured from a coal-fired power plant.

Modern technology and American ingenuity allow us to do more with less. Hilcorp is most certainly a prime example of this powerful combination all while creating jobs, taking care to protect the environment and playing by the rules – now that is a headline for the Houston Chronicle.

Ed Longanecker is president of the Texas Independent Producers & Royalty Owners Association.

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