As a non-profit organization headquartered in Laredo on the U.S.-Mexico border, we are committed to the well-being of our community. In the latest of a long history of both state and federal failures at the border, Gov. Abbott stationed buoys encircled by razor wire in the Rio Grande — our only source of drinking water — between Eagle Pass, Texas and Piedras Negras, Coahuila. These barriers installed by state officers are causing injuries and loss of life, as well as diverting funds from much-needed community investments and threatening the drinking water of local residents. We cannot stay silent.
Clean and safe drinking water is a basic human right, and it is unacceptable that our community members are being forced to live with failing water infrastructure, recurring boil water notices, and water scarcity exacerbated by climate change. Eagle Pass, Laredo, and other border towns like ours face extreme resource inequities that have led to limited education, hunger, inadequate housing, crumbling healthcare systems, and high poverty rates. All of these issues affect a wider population and are of higher consequence in our communities than border crossings at the Rio Grande. Yet our state government has focused billions of taxpayer dollars on constructing border barriers that threaten our cities’ only source of drinking water and put people in vulnerable border-crossing situations at risk of injury or death.
Commission Shift believes in good government that values the people of Texas. Inclusive decision-making is critical to addressing both our struggles on the border and in oil and gas regions. We must respect private property rights, and eminent domain should not be used to take land away from Texans — whether for constructing border barriers or polluting infrastructure. Along these lines, we cannot continue to allow federal agents or private companies to trespass on private land.
Communities from the Permian Basin to the Haynesville Shale and the Eagle Ford Shale are frustrated by ethical breaches and the lack of oversight by state leaders to ensure that our resources are being used in ways that will truly benefit the people of Texas.
Commission Shift is focused on reforming oil and gas oversight in Texas through accountability at the Railroad Commission of Texas. The inequities our communities live with on the border are not unique to the border. We find that the way state officials disregard us on the border is not all that different from the ways that oil and gas workers are mistreated, or the way that neighbors of polluting oil and gas infrastructure are excluded from decision-making processes about that infrastructure.
We stand with our border communities and those living among the consequences of poor oil and gas oversight, and we will continue to speak out and fight for the rights of all Texans to a safe environment, drinkable water, and meaningful inclusion in decisions that affect their lives.
Dr. Maria Reyes
Digital Communications Manager