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Taylor files bill to increase oil production: Legislation has early bipartisan support
Texas is known for oil, but a local state representative said the state's over-regulation is preventing the industry from reaching its full potential.
To help combat this, Rep. Van Taylor (R-Plano) has introduced H.B. 100, also known as the Oil and Gas Majority Rights Protection Act. The bill, if passed by the legislature and signed into law by Gov. Rick Perry, will positively affect all Texans, not just those that own oil and gas mineral rights, Taylor said.
"The bill would bring Texas into the 20th century in terms of property rights for oil field owners," Taylor said. "Every other state allows the majority of the owners [of an oil field] to come together and decide what the future of the field will be. ... There are billions of barrels of oil that will never come out of the ground without this legislation."
The problem, Taylor said, is that currently all mineral rights owners must agree before any course of action can be taken on a field. As oil fields get older, mineral rights are passed down to more and more people, so getting unanimous approval is getting increasingly difficult, he said. If H.B. 100 becomes law, then it would only require a majority of the mineral rights owners to agree to increase oil flow, an easier standard to meet, Taylor said.
"Every major oil-producing state has this legislation and they have had it for decades." Taylor said. "Oil prices are the highest they have been in a long time, so the need for more oil is greater and the economic impact of getting it out of the ground is greater."
To maximize oil production, especially in older fields, a process known as Carbon Dioxide Enhanced Oil Recovery (C02-EOR) is used. This involves re-pressurizing the oil field by pumping carbon dioxide deep into the ground, making the oil easier to recover.
However, since the carbon dioxide flows throughout the entire oil field, the permission of each mineral rights owner is required before the process can begin. If Taylor's bill is passed, only a simple majority would be needed.
Taylor said the state's Permanent University Fund estimated its output could increase nearly sixfold over the next 20 years if it was allowed to use carbon dioxide in oil production. With the state producing about 1.35 million barrels of oil a day, Taylor said using the process statewide would result in huge increases in oil production, while creating jobs and increasing state revenue.
"The investment required to do a project like that is in the billions," Taylor said. "It is billions of dollars that will increase your property tax revenue, your franchise tax revenue and your severance tax revenue. You would really fundamentally alter the future direction of the economy for the state of Texas."
Hundreds of bills will be introduced this legislative session, with many failing to pass due to lack of bipartisan support. Taylor feels his bill will be different, since a companion bill, S.B. 136, has already been filed in the senate by Rodney Ellis (D-Houston).
In a press release, Ellis agreed with Taylor that the legislation will benefit all Texans, regardless of which political party they belong to.
"This legislation means more jobs, cleaner air and additional revenue for the state," he wrote. "It is time for Texas to join the other top 10 oil-producing states by passing this bill."
While both men agree the bill is necessary, they could not be more different from a political ideology standpoint.
A recent study conducted by Mark P. Jones, a Rice University political science professor, found that Ellis was the state's most liberal senator in 2011 (out of 31), while Taylor was the 19th most conservative member of the Texas House (out of the 149 members who were ranked).
"I am working on reaching across the aisle to pull in Democrats," Taylor said. "There is nobody really to the left of Rodney and there are very few people to the right of me. Everyone is pretty much between us ideologically, so I feel really good about getting this bill passed."