Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX-29) provided her insights into recent negotiations on Capitol Hill and the impact of COVID-19 in her district during a PESA townhall facilitated by PESA Advisory Board Member and Government Affairs Committee Chair, Todd Ennenga, Halliburton. This virtual meeting is the latest step in PESA’s continuing relationship with Rep. Garcia, which includes visiting PESA Member Company facilities in her district and meeting with leadership during PESA’s annual Fly-In to Washington D.C.
Rep. Garcia warned that President Trump’s executive orders delaying or deferring payroll taxes could hurt Social Security funding this year. However, she was confident that Congress would pass an additional relief package to counter the economic distress Americans face. She said the best way to begin the recovery and rebuild a robust economy is to combat the coronavirus first.
After opening comments, Tim Tarpley, PESA Vice President Government Affairs, asked Rep. Garcia to comment on limited liability language being considered in the Senate. PESA supports a limited liability shield to protect companies from frivolous lawsuits, as long as they follow OSHA and CDC guidelines. Rep. Garcia emphasized a need for unified requirements, standards and guidelines from OSHA for all businesses to follow. Different guidelines from local and state governments can create confusion for businesses.
Responding to an audience question, Rep. Garcia confirmed that “banning fracking” is not part of the Biden 2020 platform, and she said she would not support including language in the future. Rep. Garcia said she’s not personally familiar with the state of negotiations on hiring laid off oil and gas workers to plug abandoned wells, but she believes there should be bipartisan support in a final package, if there’s enough funding available.
Rep. Garcia concluded her remarks by suggesting PESA Members continue to message on the energy industry’s positive economic impact to a variety of groups such as the Black and Hispanic Caucuses. She said the message is often drowned out or not heard by important stakeholders and communities outside of oil and gas production.
Tarpley wrapped up the townhall with further discussion on President Trump’s Executive Orders, and Ennenga highlighted recent changes to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) intended to streamline development of infrastructure projects. Maria Suarez, PESA Director Government Affairs, shared key state updates, including actions by Bureau of Land Management, and Utah and Colorado increasing taxes on oil and gas production.