West Texas Intermediate crude oil dropped from an average of about $60 per barrel in January 2020 to less than $20 per barrel in April, and by the start of 2021, prices had not yet reached prepandemic levels, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Houston is also down 31,000 energy jobs since the second quarter of 2019, said Bill Gilmer, the director of the University of Houston’s Bauer Institute for Regional Forecasting.
“We’re going to see the economy begin to recover and things begin to go back to some semblance of normality,” Gilmer said in a recent interview with Community Impact Newspaper. “But the oil piece of this continues on for a while because it’s tied to the global economy.”
Biden issued an executive order Jan. 27 that halted new oil and gas leases on public lands and offshore waters and called for the review of existing permits for fossil fuel development as part of his plan to tackle climate change.
“In conducting this analysis, and to the extent consistent with applicable law, the Secretary of the Interior shall consider whether to adjust royalties associated with coal, oil, and gas resources extracted from public lands and offshore waters, or take other appropriate action, to account for corresponding climate costs,” the order reads.
U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Houston, along with several Republican colleagues, introduced a bill the following day that would override the president’s order if passed into law and ensure oil producers retain access to energy reservoirs in the Outer Continental Shelf.
According to a press release, this bill would amend the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to require at least two annual lease sales on available acreage in the western and central Gulf of Mexico and maintain all current environmental laws.
Crenshaw, who was also selected to serve on the House Energy and Commerce Committee in the 117th Congress, said the Conservation Funding Protection Act would protect Texas energy jobs.
“Undermining Texas energy jobs and American energy independence appears to be a top priority of the Biden-Harris White House, and the administration is showing little regard to the livelihoods of blue-collar workers who are already struggling during this pandemic,” Crenshaw said in a statement. Energy production is critical for jobs, our economy, and also funds coastland conservation and hurricane preparedness.”