US House Committees' Field Hearings Pushed Harmful Message for Fossil Fuel Industry

Two hearings in Midland, Texas this week lack community voices

Shannon Van Hoesen, 

MIDLAND, TX - In a couple of hearings in Midland, Texas this week, House Committees led by Congressional Republicans pushed harmful messages of the fossil fuel industry in an attempt to expand production in an area already overburdened by pollution from oil and gas companies. 

Both hearings focused on the limited benefits to the communities, while ignoring the catastrophic impacts of oil and gas extraction and processing. Our global dependence on fossil fuels is supercharging climate change, and areas of Texas and New Mexico have firsthand experience with the impacts of a warming climate - from extreme droughts to stronger hurricanes to more powerful winter storms. Instead of more harmful industry, communities along the Permian to Gulf Coast frack cycle need investments in clean energy and job training programs in order to secure a strong economic future and stable climate. 

Dave Cortez, Director of the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club said, “These Congressional field hearings are a dog and pony show where industry executives and their federal allies use our people as props to greenwash and distort the very real harms caused by the oil and gas industry. My family has worked in the industry for years. We know first hand our communities deserve better than having to choose between our health and well-paying jobs in an industry where executives are making billions while leaving us to deal with disastrous water and air pollution.”

“The politicians talk about energy independence, but the oil and gas extracted from the Permian is all exported, causing our energy prices to skyrocket. Our government representatives should be fighting for energy democracy that ensures all families have affordable, reliable energy that ensures their heat and lights stay on, even when it gets cold,” Cortez continued.   

Fossil fuel infrastructure poses a direct risk to communities that host the facilities or pipelines through air and water pollution, destruction of local ecology, and industrial disasters. Fracking is destroying the Permian Basin with endless amounts of polluted wastewater, venting and flaring of climate-warming methane gas, injection wells that cause earthquakes and leak harmful pollutants, and more.

Juan Mancias, Chairman of the Carrizo Comecrudo Tribe, the original people of Texas, said, “Industry is destroying our land and our sacred sites. They contaminate our water and air with fracking, and disturb our burial sites with their pipelines. The oil and gas companies, and the politicians they buy, are interested only in money and power. They are sacrificing land and water that has sustained countless generations that came before, and jeopardizing the wellbeing of current and future generations. They say we’re living in a ‘green fantasy.’ All we want is to protect the land and preserve our culture and lifeways. We are ready and willing to make that so-called fantasy a reality.”   

In 2022, Physicians for Social Responsibility published the 8th edition of their Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking and Associated Gas and Oil Infrastructure that concludes, “Our examination uncovered no evidence that fracking can be practiced in a manner that does not threaten human health directly or without imperiling climate stability upon which human health depends.” 

Sadly, the nation is seeing firsthand the type of devastating disaster that can befall a community that is on the frontline of industry as we watch the ecological tragedy unfold in East Palestine, Ohio. From frequent pipeline leaks and spills, to an explosion like the one at a liquified methane gas export facility in Freeport, Texas, last year, the health and safety of community members and the environment are at risk. 

About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit