News & Updates

For media inquiries, contact Brett Holmes at brett@respectbigbend.org.


All News & Updates

Newsletter • Update from Billy Tarrant

Thank you for your interest in protecting the communities and natural resources of the Big Bend region of Texas while encouraging responsible energy development.  We’re off to a strong start, with news coverage of our work in the Midland Reporter-Telegram, Marfa Public...


Opinion • On His 100th Birthday, George Mitchell Would Have Been Astounded by What His Fracking Technology Has Wrought

This piece originally appeared as a column in The Dallas Morning News.  The late George P. Mitchell, who would have turned 100 on May 21, was a Houston-based businessman, real estate developer and innovative philanthropist credited with developing fracking and horizontal drilling technology to...


News • The Oilman Who Loved Sustainable Energy

On Tuesday, George P. Mitchell would have turned 100 years old. After his death at 94 in 2013, this newspaper declared him the “Houstonian of the Century” — not the 20th century, in which he lived most of his life, but the 21st, which his legacy will help define. The list of words...


News • Coalition to Conserve Big Bend with Responsible Energy

Photo: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department The Big Bend region is considered one of the most biodiverse in the Western Hemisphere, while also sitting in one of the most energy-intensive areas of the world — and experts say if that energy is not developed responsibly, the sustainability of the...


News • New Initiative Strives To Inspire Responsible Energy Development In The Big Bend

A view from the South Rim trail at Big Bend National Park on a hazy day. (David Fulmer via Flickr) The Cynthia & George Mitchell Foundation, along with other partners, hopes to protect the Big Bend region from encroaching energy development by creating a new initiative called the Respect Big...


News • Can George Mitchell's Legacy Save Texas' Last Frontier?

The sun sets over the Chisos Mountains in Big Bend National Park. The Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation has begun a multiyear effort to preserve the wider Big Bend region against some of the side effects of energy development, including oil and gas drilling and renewables. Mike Lee/E&E...


News • Respect Big Bend Coalition Formed

The West Texas energy sprawl is continuing to expand, with little sign of stopping, and in response, a new coalition has been formed in hopes to mitigate the environmental impact that development could have on the Big Bend region. Marilu Hastings, Vice President of the Cynthia and George Mitchell...


News • Foundation's Goal is to Respect Big Bend Country

Midland—The Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation will offer a press briefing on Thursday, May 2 at 10:30 am in advance of George Mitchell being honored posthumously that evening by the Petroleum Museum. Marilu Hastings, a Midland native, member of the Department of Energy's National...


Video • A Sneak Preview of “The Long Game”

A Sneak Preview of “The Long Game” The producers of The Rational Middle of Energy, in collaboration with the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation, will introduce “The Long Game,” a short-documentary series that addresses energy development's impact in the greater Big Bend...


Spotlight • Carolyn Nored Miller

As part of the Respect Big Bend campaign, we want to showcase all that the Big Bend region has to offer, including local talent such as Carolyn Nored Miller, who has provided photographs for this website. Carolyn is a native Texan and Fort Davis resident with roots dating back to the settlement of...


News • Shining Cities On The Hills: Check Out This Map Of Texas Cities Showing Their Brightness In Peaks

“Perhaps it was an underlying thought to get people thinking about the effects of our urbanized areas on our nighttime environments,” Wasilkowski told The Washington Post. “I also wonder if we don’t often consider what day versus night means when looking at maps —...


News • Railroad Commissioners Voice Doubts that Permian Basin Flaring is More Prevalent than Reported

The Environmental Defense Fund concluded that oil producers burned off more natural gas than they reported to the state. But Texas officials expressed skepticism of those findings during a state Senate hearing Wednesday. Read the story...


News • Devils River State Natural Area Named Texas’ First Dark Sky Sanctuary

The designation draws attention to the decreasing number of places where true darkness can still be experienced. Read the story at: https://www.texasstandard.org/stories/devils-river-state-natural-area-named-texas-third-dark-sky-sanctuary/...


News • From 2016 to 2018, Total Crashes in the Odessa District were up 67% and Fatalities were up 97%

See the original post at: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=2410974788926817&id=1784099564947679...


News • How a "Monster" Texas Oil Field Made the U.S. a Star in the World Market

Innovation, investment and inviting geology have given new life to an oil patch that once seemed spent. The oil field is now the world’s second most productive. Read the story at: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/03/business/energy-environment/texas-permian-field-oil.html...


News • The Senate Just Passed the Decade’s Biggest Public Lands Package

The bipartisan measure would create more than 1.3 million acres of wilderness out West, add three national park units and expand eight others. Read the story...


News • Texas Is on Fire With Polluting Flares from Fracking

Watch the video at: https://youtu.be/OEaVr0LoYIo...


News • “How Screwed Are You” If You Don’t Work In Oil In The Permian Basin? It Depends.

It doesn’t take much to see the Permian Basin’s economy is doing pretty well right now. Just look at Midland and Odessa, the two cities’ unemployment rate is around two percent, wages are high and property values are rising. It won’t be a surprise to anyone the reason for...


News • Apache Corp. Creates Endowment for Iconic West Texas State Park

Houston oil company Apache Corp. has doubled a gift to help save a revered West Texas swimming hole. In addition to donating $1 million to repair the shuttered Balmorhea State Park Pool, the company has donated an additional $1 million to create an endowment to preserve and support the iconic West...


News • Activists and Researchers are Working to Keep Tabs on Oil and Gas Emissions Near Balmorhea

“Fixing this problem is easy. You do what the prior administration had a suggested. Mainly you look for where the biggest leaks are and you fix those.” Read or listen to this story...


Opinion • Let's Get This Right

Texas continues to grow and prosper for many reasons and, as Texans, we should be forever thankful. We tend to possess an old-fashioned work ethic that marries friendilness, diligence, and a unique adaptibility. We have a favorable tax structure and a prudent, although sometimes lenient,...


News • Oil vs. Astronomy: The Race to Protect the Night Sky in West Texas

West Texas is famed worldwide for its vast crude oil reserves. But for over 75 years, a small patch of the Permian Basin has also been valued for its pitch-black night sky. Those two prized natural resources have clashed in recent years as oil drilling has brightened the sky near McDonald...


News • How an Oil Boom in West Texas is Reshaping the World

My view from the window seat of a small regional jet landing in Midland, Texas, is either a testament to the advances of human civilization or a sign of its impending demise, depending on your perspective. Countless oil wells, identified by their glowing red flames, dot the dark landscape. We are...


Opinion • Community Engagement Critical to Sustaining Energy Development in West Texas

The Trans Pecos region of West Texas is a state treasure. It is in the Chihuahuan Desert, the most biologically diverse desert ecosystem in the Western Hemisphere, home to hundreds of species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and plants. Its vast, dramatic landscapes define Texas for Texas...


Opinion • Texas’ Energy Boom and the Looming Water Challenge

Notwithstanding soft oil and gas prices, the Texas energy industry is booming. Nowhere is this more evident than in the West Texas Permian Basin. This dramatic growth has not only meant more oil wells but also an expansion of drilling closer to the ecologically sensitive Trans Pecos/Davis Mountains...


Opinion • The Landowner Knows Best: Conserving the Greater Big Bend Region

“We come and go, but the land is always here. And the people who love it and understand it are the people who own it – for a little while.” O Pioneers! —Willa Cather Land. It’s what drew settlers to Texas—the promise of unlimited wide open spaces. Those vast...


Opinion • Conserving the Last Frontier: The Case for the Trans-Pecos

If Texas were a sovereign country, it would rank as the tenth largest economy in the world, with a GDP of $1.7 trillion. Texas also ranks highest among states in the United States for business.  In fact, Texas has added 350,000 jobs in the past year (one in seven new jobs in the U.S. were in...


Research • Texans' Views of the Trans-Pecos

Editor's Note: This is the second of a two-part series by the authors. To read the first post, click here.  In the focus groups we conducted earlier this year—detailed in first of this two-part blog post—we asked area residents if they knew what other Texans thought about the...


Research • Voices from the Trans-Pecos: Exploring Public Opinion on Energy Development

Editor's Note: This is the first of a two-part series by the authors.   The area of Texas west of the Pecos River is known as the Trans-Pecos. It is perhaps best known for the Big Bend and the Rio Grande River, which defines the region’s southern border. It is home to hundreds of...


News • As Oil and Gas Exports Surge, West Texas Becomes the World's "Extraction Colony"

  An unprecedented drilling boom in the Permian Basin is great for business. But it’s polluting the air, overwhelming communities and threatening the planet. Read the story...


News • From Family Camps to Man Camps: A Brief History Of Housing Workers In The Oil And Gas Industry

For people working in the oil and gas industry in the Permian Basin, finding housing can be a challenge. The blue-collar workforce often ends up in hotels, motels, and so-called man camps. Sometimes, companies even rent blocks of rooms to put their employees up. But in the past,...


Opinion • This Land is Your Land: The U.S. Energy Landscape

A recent Bloomberg article (Here’s How America Uses Its Land) broke down how the United States is carving up the 1.9 billion-acre land mass of 48 contiguous states into a collage of cities, farms, forests, and pastures that we use to feed ourselves, and create value for business and...


Opinion • Native Plant Restoration: A Bridge to a Sustainable Future in the Trans-Pecos?

Restoration of native plants and habitat in tandem with energy sprawl could be a bridge to a better future for residents, communities, and the general landscape of the greater Big Bend region of the Trans-Pecos area of West Texas. As has been pointed out in previous posts, this area of West Texas...


News • Roads, Not Pipelines, May Be Biggest Threat to Growth in Oil Hotspot

For an oilman who’s worked on the Gulf Coast, near the Russian Arctic and in Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s headquarters in The Hague, being stuck in traffic on a dusty West Texas highway is not the stuff of dreams. The GMC Yukon rented by Amir Gerges, general manager of Shell’s...


Opinion • Modernized Oilfield Lighting Protects Night Skies, Benefits the Industry

Since 1932, McDonald Observatory has enjoyed nighttime skies as dark as any major astronomical observatory in the world.  Its remote location, in the heart of the Davis Mountains of West Texas, seemed to ensure this for decades to come.  With the boom in oil and gas related activities in...


Opinion • Private Property Rights Matter for Collective Conservation

The iconography of Texas centers in fierce independence and rugged individualism.  The Battle of the Alamo, early Texas Ranger companies patrolling the frontier, and cowboys wrangling vast cattle herds all come to mind.  Texas has a unique history in which many are familiar although...


Opinion • Addressing the Interconnected Issues of Energy Sprawl

In a so-called post-truth era, we are actually collecting more data on a wider variety of factors than ever before. These data sources can—and should—help us to make better decisions on a range of comprehensive issues. Communicating this data and insight, and the resulting perspectives,...


News • "Death Highway" in Texas' Permian Basin Sees Accidents, Fatalities Pick Up as Oil Price Rises

Route 285 is the formal designation for one of the main roads used to carry supplies to and from the oilfields of West Texas. Locals call it something else: "Death Highway." Last year, 93 people died in accidents involving trucks just on the Texas-side of the Permian Basin, or 43 percent more than...


News • Untapped: The New West Texas

This piece is Part 1 of our Untapped series about the new West Texas. The Permian Basin in West Texas leads the nation in oil and gas production. Midland and Odessa have long been the heart of this industrialized desert. But oil and gas development is expanding outward. In the past year,...


News • New Demand, Same Old Story: West Texans And Their Water

This piece is Part 4 of our Untapped series about the new West Texas. In arid West Texas, where rain is infrequent and rivers and lakes are few, groundwater – water from sources beneath the surface of the earth – is key to survival. And as the oil and gas industry in the Permian Basin...


News • A Tourist Town Reckons With An Energy Boom

This piece is Part 3 of our Untapped series about the new West Texas. For generations, Texans have visited the desert oasis of San Solomon Springs for recreation, refreshment and rejuvenation. And for almost as long, the springs have powered the economy of the tiny town that sits next to...


News • Despite A "Downturn," West Texas Oil Production Headed For A Record High

This piece is Part 2 of our Untapped series about the new West Texas. It was almost three years ago when the oil industry took a nosedive. The headlines told stories of lost jobs and struggling towns,but now, despite the continued downturn, things seem better. At...

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