West Texas Legislative Summit morning sessions: Infrastructure, trade, transportation, agriculture, water

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SAN ANGELO, Texas – The 17th Annual West Texas Legislative Summit was held at Angelo State University on August 4, 2021.

One of the major topics of discussion included infrastructure. The conversation was moderated by Texas Department of Transportation Commissioner Alvin New.

The panel was comprised of Texas District 36 Congressman Brian Babin, D.D.S., Senior-Most Republican Texan Member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Congressman Jodey Arrington (District 19), Speaker Tom Craddick, Commissioner Christi Craddick, Railroad Commission of Texas Chairman, John Osborne Chairman of the Ports-to-Plains Alliance, and Sean Strawbridge Chief Executive Officer of Port of Corpus Christi Authority.

Congressman Babin spoke about the importance of Interstate 14 which would go through San Angelo.

“San Angelo is the largest city in the nation without an interstate,” Babin said.

He said the legislation regarding I-14 now includes the interstate going as far as Georgia and that the Senate has picked up the changes.

Congressman Arrington added that I-14 could bring up to 55 billion dollars into the Texas economy over 20 years. He also spoke on the debt that the country is facing.

“We’re broke as a nation,” Arrington said.

He addressed the room stating that West Texas contributes cattle, cotton, and many other resources but this area in particular also contributes a “back bone” to the nation.

Representative Tom Craddick spoke on oil production stating that Texas had increased oil production in 2019 and 2020 despite the global pandemic. Craddick also addressed roads and the role they play when it comes to commuters’ lives.

“Traffic is a contributing factor for a person looking to relocate,” Craddick said.

He also addressed the need for legislation that would put money back into the “rainy day fund” to ensure that Texas has the resources it needs in case of an emergency. Craddick stated he has introduced the “Grow” Bill and that the bill has passed the House twice but was not passed by the Senate.

Christi Craddick spoke about the need for oil and gas for not only Texas but the nation and beyond. She stated that the U.S. exports natural gas to several international locations like Poland and Mexico. She also stated that the need for pipelines to transport these resources is of great importance.

“You can drill all you want but if you can’t get it to market, it doesn’t matter,” Craddick said.

She also addressed the possible 144 regulations that she said she expected the Biden Administration to pass or put into place. She said that the 144 regulations were originally proposed by the Obama Administration.

“The oil and gas industry is already the most regulated industry without these 144 regulations,” Craddick said.

She also spoke about the need for the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline to continue. Stating that oil and gas production is not only importation to the United States but is also “national security for the rest of the world” who rely on the U.S. for these resources.

The Summit continued with a session on Agriculture and water.

This panel was comprised of Congressman for District 25 Roger Williams, Emily Lindley with TCEQ, Congressman for District 13 Ronny Jackson, and Agriculture partner with Texas Farm Bureau Alisha Schwertner. This panel was moderated by District 28 Senator Charles Perry.

The issued discussed included supplying and protecting water for generations to come and property rights of landowners.

“35 to 40 million acres of the U.S. are owned by a foreign entity and in Texas, 4.5 million acres are owned by a foreign entity,” Jackson said.

Jackson, Perry, and Williams all addressed the ongoing issues the U.S. is having with China and stated that China is a threat to the United States.

All three men called on the local landowner to “put the whole before self” when it comes to selling land to a foreign entity who may be offering a higher price.

“Hopefully we can appeal to their patriotism,” Perry said.

Jackson explained that some entities may appear to be American-owned but are actually owned by a foreign entity and this could confuse some landowners who are selling their property.

The legislative summit will continue with Congressman August Pfluger as the keynote speaker during lunch.

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