Basin Leaders Gather for First-Ever Coalition Meeting, Traffic Issues at Forefront of Discussions
By Jen Kastner
MIDLAND- On Tuesday, leaders from around the Basin gathered together at the Midland County Horseshoe arena for the first-ever "Permian Basin Coalition" meeting.
Local government figures, along with energy industry heads and transportation sector representatives talked about some of the major headlines going on right now in the Basin.
Energy industry leaders all agreed that the Permian Basin is currently in the national spotlight for both the amount of oil and natural gas it's sitting on, but also for its tech-savvy ways to get it out of the ground. Yet, all the talk of the boom led the discussion into a more upsetting topic, which is the issue of what's happening on our roads.
"There is no doubt in my mind that we are the step child of transportation funding in this state," James Beauchamp with the Midland-Odessa Transportation Alliance, said. "As you know, our death rate has been extremely high on our roads, alot of that's due to people not driving safely but we also need a lot of improvements to our roads to make them safer," Midland Development Corporation Executive Director, Pam Welch, said.
Midland County Commissioner, Robert Donnelly, says, "We don't find the representation that other areas have and it may be because they're closer to Austin or they're two hours away from Austin where we're five hours away. "I think a large [part of the problem is that] nobody in Austin, Texas, is really concerned about the Permian Basin. I don't think they're concerned about the problems we have here. It's a long ways from the [capitol]."
The newly formed coalition is now banking on the idea that there is power in numbers. If the Basin wants to get help for its sustained growth, it needs come together and fight for it as a unified force.
Beauchamp adds that for far too long now, he believes the state isn't giving back enough of the tax revenue that's been generated in the Basin.
The coalition is now working to find solutions to address the transportation problem.