North Texas oil and gas advocacy group expands statewide

A drilling rig sits north of the Davis Mountains in 2016 in Balmorhea. Residents worry that drilling by Houston-based Apache Corp. could affect the spring at the state park and impact tourism. (Michael Ciaglo/Houston Chronicle)

North Texans for Natural Gas is expanding its focus statewide, and changing its name to Texans for Natural Gas.

The advocacy group fights activists protesting oil and gas development in Texas. It started in Dallas and has added 220,000 members, including “significant membership” in the Permian Basin, South Texas and along the Gulf Coast, the group said on Wednesday.

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“The goal from the very beginning was to give a voice to those who support energy development,” Steve Everley, spokesman for Texans for Natural Gas, said in a statement. “We’ve been amazed at how quickly people from the Permian Basin and the Eagle Ford region have not only discovered our campaign, but joined and actively participated in our advocacy efforts.”

The group launched in 2014 with the backing of oil and gas companies. By the end of 2016, the group had more than 200,000 members, with cities like Midland, San Antonio, and Corpus Christi representing some of the fastest growth, Everley said.

The campaign is currently running a petition pushing back on out-of-state environmental activists who want to block a pipeline in West Texas.