Wednesday, June 02, 2021

There’s a ticking climate time bomb in West Texas and NM


Around 265 million years ago, much of modern-day Texas was underwater, and the vast region known as the Permian Basin was a flourishing coral reef. Today, the organisms that once thrived there have been transformed into enormous deposits of fossil fuels — and they have made the area one of the most treacherous front lines in President Joe Biden’s domestic fight against climate change.

The Permian Basin, which stretches hundreds of miles across West Texas and southeast New Mexico, accounts for 40 percent of US oil production and 15 percent of its natural gas, according to February data. Less than a year after oil prices dipped into negative territory because of the Covid-19 pandemic, production in the region has bounced back almost to pre-pandemic levels. Already, the region is the nation’s No. 1 source of methane, a greenhouse gas that warms the planet far more efficiently than carbon dioxide in the short term.

The US oil and gas industry has pinned much of its future hopes on the region, especially in the next decade: If it gets its way, the Permian Basin will still grow through 2029, outranking every country except for Saudi Arabia in liquid fuel production, according to one analysis from Oil Change International. At this rate,by 2050, it would account for 39 percent of the world’s new oil and gas emissions.

he world can’t afford this if it is to meet international climate goals. That’s what the International Energy Agency recently made clear in a report that argued for halting new investment in fossil fuel production, starting in 2021. Yet under Biden, the Permian could undergo expansion if the industry sees through its plans to export its gas and oil. That means any credible US response to the climate crisis will need to include a plan for the West Texas Permian Basin.


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