With President Biden wasting little time in office, he has clearly set his sights on Texas’ prosperity — first by canceling the Keystone Pipeline and thousands of jobs along with it, then by rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement, and lastly by banning fracking on federal land.
Who could expect him to remember his promise on August 31, 2020: “I am not banning fracking. Let me say that again. I am not banning fracking”? None of Biden’s actions will result in a better environment, but they will result in higher costs and fewer American jobs.
Democrats in Congress — and even some Republicans — will seize the opportunity to introduce a predictable smattering of wasteful spending, government overreach, and progressive social engineering. Democrats in the Texas Legislature will likely do the same while peddling a false narrative of environmental doom. Fortunately, the Texas Legislature maintains a conservative majority, so it’s no dice for the intrusive, big-government climate policies of the liberal elite.
My former colleagues should seize this opportunity to cement Texas’ strong energy industry and preserve the abundant energy resources we — and the entire nation — depend upon. Because without energy, Texas wouldn’t be Texas.
It’s difficult to overstate the importance of Texas’ oil and natural gas, not just to each of our lives, but also to the lives of billions across America and around the world. Fossil fuels don’t just keep our cars and air conditioners running. They power the data centers keeping our banking, communication, and national security online. They keep hospitals, law enforcement, and businesses from local coffee shops to global conglomerates operating smoothly. As much as 41% of American oil and 25% of natural gas comes from Texas.
Thanks to our rich natural resources and to reasonable, predictable regulations put in place by generations of Texas leaders, we’re now exporting liquefied natural gas to trading partners as far away as India. Energy is the dividing line between poverty and prosperity, oppression and freedom, destitution and opportunity around the world — and Texas makes the world a better place.
Natural gas and oil also employ hundreds of thousands of Texans with above-average salaries. The industry makes good-paying jobs available for millions more in other sectors that wouldn’t exist without affordable, reliable power. The Texas economy, contrary to some perceptions, isn’t solely about oil and gas. But our economic success, driving us to become the ninth-largest economy in the world, even beating out Russia and Canada, would have been impossible without it.
But what about climate change? Doesn’t Texas have an obligation to act? According to voters — and climate science — the answer is clearly no. Joe Biden, supposedly a national unifier, won even fewer Texas counties than Hillary Clinton in 2016. And voters soundly defeated the Bloomberg-funded Democrat running for Railroad Commission in the “most important election for American climate policy.” (In Texas, the RRC regulates oil and gas production.)
And science supports the choice of voters. The data models used nearly universally by climate organizations worldwide project that even eliminating all fossil fuels in the U.S. would barely change global average temperatures, dropping them less than two-tenths of a degree by the end of the century. Meanwhile, humanity is becoming more resilient to our natural surroundings, not less.
Texans recognize that for energy, as for most policy issues, the heavy hand of government isn’t the solution. The legislature should heed its constituents’ wishes and take a few key actions to preserve access to the energy we need.
First, legislators should end energy discrimination by investment firms, pension managers, and banks that politicize their investing choices instead of carefully stewarding our workers’ and retirees’ money.
Second, they should protect our electric grid by rolling back tax breaks that prop up unreliable energy projects and ensure each generator pledges to provide “dispatchable” (readily available) power during peak times.
Finally, lawmakers should ensure a level playing field by prohibiting cities from ludicrously banning natural gas and apply the same decommissioning standards to every energy source.
The 2020 election may have flipped the White House from Republican to Democrat, but in Texas, this legislative session is an opportunity to cement the Lone Star State’s energy leadership and boost the nation’s economy. Let’s hope the legislature continues to embrace the Texas-made fuels that have powered our state to prosperity.