Thursday, February 21, 2008

Texas, Oil and My Family

Having been to the Bob Bullock museum a handful of times, I'm always reminded when I walk through the Oil section that my family has and currently works in the TX energy industry.  My father grew up in Carthage, TX located in deep East Texas, just this side of the Louisiana border. While I'm not entirely sure what they do, my understanding is that my grandfather and uncle had practically the same job function, however, thanks to technology entirely different in process.  Essentially they're responsible for finding and fixing breaks or bottlenecks in the pipeline.  While my grandfather hopped in a JEEP and drove into the swampy marsh to find it, while my uncle is able to pinpoint the issue from a computer screen.

That said, it made me think of Tuesday's lecture about Texas being both a leader and a laggard in energy.  Had my father not left Carthage to come to UT, it is likely that he would be working for the same company that his brother is, and one could also argue, I'd be doing the same.  Given the strong familial ties to the oil industry and the millions of other Texas families that are tied to the oil industry, it's easy to understand how and why Texas is such a large consumer of energy; it's 'supporting' the family business.  I remember my grandfather filling up his truck and joking about having refined the oil he was pumping and it was going right back in his pocket.

Like a previous post mentioned, there is a love affair with Texas' early oil days and it is easy to see why.  After returning to Oklahoma from a failed trip to California during the Depression, the family lore says that grandfather drove from Tonkawa, OK until Carthage, TX stopping in each town along the way looking for work.  They stopped in Carthage because he found work.  So to tell my grandmother as well as many from her generation, that our addiction to oil is bad, despite the obvious facts, is like telling having an intervention with a junkie.

So while Texas is rooted in oil so much that we devote museums to the 'good old days', I was encouraged to see that Austin was named one of Popular Science's Top Greenest Cities.  Perhaps this is the start of a new boom in Texas energy...  Now if we could only get Houston to listen.

No comments: