El Paso has had a long history of population booms, from 1881 with the arrival of the railroads to the 1980s as a result of the copper smelting and oil refining industry. The city is still home to the Western Refining Company LP.
The location of El Paso can be a boon to the local economy, allowing easy access to the three states and two nations it sits on. However, the city is affected by its proximity to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, which is located within walking distance. In the 1990s, El Paso was hurt by competition with low wage labor jobs across the border and, specifically, the North American Free Trade Agreement passed in 1994. NAFTA helped expand transportation, retail and service firms, while added to the loss of many industrial jobs.
The economical climate could be changing for El Paso. In 2007, it was listed as one of the top ten fastest growing large cities in the U.S., according to CNNMoney.com, with a population at 609,415 and a 1.9 percent growth. It is the fifth largest city in Texas and the metro area holds more than 2.2 million people, according to the city’s Web site.
El Paso has four international ports of entry, and its Foreign Trade Zone No. 68 is the fifth largest in volume in the country and the largest on the U.S. border. The city has coast-to-coast access with its interstate highway system, rail facilities and newly expanded airport.
It has also received a Round II Federal Urban Empowerment Zone designation, which provides special tax incentives and bond provisions designed to encourage private investment. El Paso is the only city in Texas and one of only two cities west of the Mississippi River to have the Empowerment Zone program.
The air quality in the area has failed to meet federal standards, and in 1990, El Paso was classified as being in moderate nonattainment under the Federal Clean Air Act and was designated in nonattainment for the eight-hour carbon monoxide standard. However, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, El Paso is eligible for re-designation to attainment for the carbon monoxide quality because there have been no monitored violations of the ozone standard since 2001. Additionally, recent modeling studies have shown that the city could meet the national air quality standards if it was not located as close to Ciudad Juarez—another way that El Paso is linked to its Mexican neighbor.
According to the Energy Information Administration, the state of Texas leads the U.S. in both crude oil production and refining capacity. Texas has 26 petroleum refineries, which can process more than 4.8 million barrels of crude oil per day, accounting for more than one-fourth of the country’s refining capacity.
The state also ranks highest in the nation in the amount of total petroleum it consumes, which is 1,199,918 thousand barrels. Texas’ consumption of gasoline is 285,419 thousand barrels. There are 13,760 gasoline stations in the state. Four separate motor gasoline blends are required in Texas to meet the diverse air quality needs of different parts the State, including reformulated motor gasoline blended with ethanol
EIA information shows the average price per gallon of regular gasoline in Texas for this year is $3.271, not including tax.