BEAUMONT, Texas — The oil and gas industry is responsible for more than 428,000 jobs across the state of Texas.
More than 250,000 folks work in advanced energy, including solar, wind and nuclear. Experts and environmentalists are looking at what the future of oil and gas looks like.
It's a question that holds big impact for many in Southeast Texas, where 60 to 70 percent of jobs have ties to the petrochemical industry.
Lamar Institute of Technology professor Valerie Worry is confident the oil and gas industry is here to stay, but that doesn't mean renewable energy won't make its way into Southeast Texas.
"I think as we adopt more renewable energy sources, we'll be able to maximize the oil and gas we do use, and I think we'll continue to heal the climate issues that we have," Worry said.
Many environmentalists are pushing for the same big goal right now.
Luke Metzger is the executive director for Environment Texas.
"We have to get to zero carbon by 2050," Metzger said.
To reach that goal, the nonprofit hopes all cars will be electric by 2035 and school and transit buses by 2030.
"We certainly know that we're not gonna get off of oil and gas overnight you know," Metzger said.
Is a world without oil and gas even realistic?
The Texas Oil and Gas Association said the industry is responsible for more than just the electricity in your home and the gas in your car.
Todd Staples, the president of the organization, said the rapidly improving technology in the industry is already making a difference in the environment.
"I see this energy transitioning into a cleaner, stronger, energy future. I see a science continue to lead the way. Our air quality is better than it's ever been," Staples said.
Staples said oil and gas are used in a number of products you may not think about.
"Makeup, medicines, tires, plastics, oil and gas goes into that process. Oil and natural gas even goes into making wind turbines, solar panels and electric vehicles," Staples said.
He agrees renewable energy will need to be integrated more, but is confident in state regulations that keep the industry and the environment safe.
"It's a global responsibility for us to care about our planet," Staples said.
Dr. Worry at LIT said it's a two-way thing. People have to be willing to think differntly, and companies have to provide affordable options to transition into renewable energy.