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West Texas is sitting on a Ticking Time Bomb

Much of what is now Texas was underwater 265 million years ago, and the vast region known as the Permian Basin had a thriving coral reef. The species that previously thrived there have been turned into massive reserves of fossil fuels, making the area one of President Joe Biden’s most dangerous front lines in the fight against climate change.

According to February data, the Permian Basin, which runs hundreds of miles over West Texas and southeast New Mexico, produces 40% of US oil and 15% US natural gas. Production in the region has nearly returned to pre-outbreak levels less than a year after oil prices fell into negative territory due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Already, the area is the nation’s top producer of methane, a greenhouse gas that heats the world significantly more efficiently in the short run than carbon dioxide.

According to one analysis from Oil Change International, the US oil and gas industry has pinned much of its future hopes on the region, particularly in the next decade. If it gets its way, the Permian Basin will continue to grow through 2029, outperforming every country except Saudi Arabia in liquid fuel production. By 2050, it will account for 39 percent of the world’s new oil and gas emissions if current trends continue. If the world wants to reach international climate targets, it cannot afford this.

That is what the International Energy Agency just stated in a report advocating for a moratorium on new fossil-fuel investment beginning in 2021. On the other hand, the Permian might grow under Biden if the sector follows through on its intentions to export gas and oil. As a result, any meaningful US response to the climate catastrophe must include a plan for the Permian Basin in West Texas.

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