An oil industry bonanza appears to be looming over Tom Green County. The Cline Shale, a massive oil-bearing geological formation that intrudes into the northern part of the county, is coming under development, and Tom Green County Commissioners Court members talked giddily about it in the Commissioners Court meeting.
The toll on area roads will not be borne by oil companies, not under the current system. First, Texas relies on federal money for highway construction and maintenance.
Texas has relied almost exclusively on revenue generated by the gasoline tax, vehicle registration fees and federal funds to build and maintain its highways.
Second, oil production taxes effectively are saved.
If any oil and gas production taxes collected are higher than the taxes taken in 1987, then 75 percent of those taxes go to the Rainy Day Fund.Thus far, the Texas Legislature refused to tap the Rainy Day fund for education or healthcare. Early suggestions have $1 billion going to develop a water infrastructure development bank.
Will the oilfield boom and bust before Texas Legislators get their hands out of their pockets and design something? If education and healthcare are an indication, the answer is no. That said, Representative Darby is ready to lead the charge on roads. Will it involve any of the coming oilfield bonanza money?
Update 12-21-12: Roads may be the purview of a new Energy Caucus.
Update 1-31-13: Pioneer Natural Resources sold a portion of its Wolfcamp Shale holdings to a Chinese energy company.