PSP: Infrastructure investment needed to fulfill Permian’s promise

Posted on October 6, 2020

By Mella McEwen, Reporter-Telegram

Although the Permian Basin region that spans both Texas and New Mexico is home to only a small portion of those states’ population, it contributes significant portions of gross domestic product of both states.

“It’s important for us to get out there and tell this story,” Don Evans, chairman of the Permian Strategic Partnership, told the Reporter-Telegram in a telephone interview.

He said the surge of Permian Basin crude and natural gas production has played a major role in not just the region’s economic prosperity but that of Texas, the US and even global economies. That production growth let those economies “grow at their maximum potential and lifted hundreds of thousands of people (if not more) out of poverty,” he said.

The PSP, a coalition of 20 oil and gas producers that have come together to address community needs, from infrastructure to health care and education to housing, just issued a report highlighting the economic opportunities offered by the Permian’s natural resources. That report will be discussed in detail in Sunday’s edition.

In order for the region to realize that potential, Evans said good infrastructure – specifically roads – is needed.

“I’ve always said the government’s role is to create an environment for the private sector and public companies to do what they do so well, create wealth. Part of that environment is infrastructure so companies can effectively carry out their programs. Without good roads, it’s difficult to develop resources in a safe and effective way,” said Evans, who served as Commerce secretary during President George W. Bush’s first term.

PSP, along with other organizations, from MOTRAN to the Permian Basin MPO, Midland and Odessa Development corporations, area chambers of commerce, area mayors and state and federal representatives have worked to secure additional funding for Permian Basin roads.

The Texas Department of Transportation recently affirmed an additional $600 million for Permian Basin roads under its Unified Transportation Program. In addition, the US Department of Transportation has awarded $25 million under its Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant program to rebuild the interchange at Interstate 20 and Cotton Flat Road in Midland, to be dispersed by TxDOT.

Evans expressed his appreciation that elected officials, from President Trump and Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz and Rep. Mike Conaway at the federal level to Gov. Greg Abbott and state Reps. Tom Craddick and Brooks Landgraf at the state level appreciate the economic contributions of the Permian Basin’s energy industry and support the need to invest in the area’s infrastructure.

He also said he “couldn’t be prouder” of the leadership shown by the 20 companies who helped form the PSP, an effort he said is unprecedented.

“They came together to support the citizens, the region and provide for education, safe roads, health care, affordable housing,” Evans said. “They’re concerned about the citizens of the areas where they operate. It’s the friendly nature of the Permian Basin, and they’re a big part of that. They want to protect the quality of life here, enhance it and make it better.”