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Texas is thought of by many Americans as the heart of the oil industry. The current oil boom has seen production grow massively in the lone star state, and as oil companies have flocked to drill in Texan oil fields, they have taken with them money that has helped to boost the region’s economy.
Whilst it maybe a common belief that the oil boom has benefitted Texas greatly, it has actually brought problems to many local residents, as the increased traffic has begun to severely damage infrastructure and the environment.
As new fields are developed and the energy company-realted traffic increases, many farm-to-market roads in East and South Texas have been badly damaged, and affect such a large number of roads, that despite the supposed higher revenues earned by the state, the Texas Department of Transportation claims that it does not have the funds to make the necessary repairs. In fact it estimates that the cost of maintaining and repairing the roads use by tankers and trucks travelling to and from the oil fields is around $1 billion a year.
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It may seem only fair that those same energy companies damaging the roads in order to benefit from the oil, should be charged to pay for repairs, but any efforts to increase taxes on the companies have so far failed to find the necessary support.
Roads in Texas are damaged by heavy traffic supplying the oil industry. (KSAT.com)
Last month the Texas Department of Transportation announced that it intends to solve the problem of the damaged roads by converting more than 80miles of paved roads into gravel paths, with the conversion expected to begin on Monday the 19th of August.
David Glessner, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Transportation, explained that “since paving roads is too expensive and there is not enough funding to repave them all, our only other option to make them safer is to turn them into gravel roads.”
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According to the Texas Tribune, Glessner said that the 80 miles of road to be converted into gravel paths were picked because they are rural routes inegible for federal funds.
State Senator Carlos Uresti, has been against the conversion plan since the beginning, and says that by failing to consult local lawmakers and communities, “the agency (Texas Department of Transportation) imposed a unilateral solution on these communities with no notice, no opportunity to seek alternative solutions, and no clear understanding of what to expect in the future.”
By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com