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November 25, 2013

Wendy Davis’ Liberal Policies Would Undermine Texas’ Energy Boom

A vote for Wendy Davis is a vote to empower EPA overreach in Texas.

Wendy Davis: pro-EPA, anti-fracking.

A vote for Wendy Davis is a vote against the Texas oil and gas boom.

For the first time in two decades, the United States produced more domestic oil than it imported, a trend driven largely by the hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”) revolution in Texas, North Dakota, and other parts of the country. America’s march toward energy independence advances in spite of oil and natural gas production falling 6% and 21%, respectively, on federal lands since Barack Obama took office. Nearly two-thirds of all new oil production under President Obama has been Texas production, and despite the White House’s credit-taking on the issue, without Texas, the U.S. would still be importing more than 1.5 million additional barrels of oil per day than it produces domestically:

By 2014, Texas is projected to pass oil-rich nations Venezuela, Mexico, Kuwait, and Iraq to become the ninth-largest producer of oil in the world, which makes sense given that 23.7% of all active drilling rigs on the planet are located in Texas, as of November 2013. The energy industry has directly created well over half a million new Texas jobs over just the past few years. These new oil and gas jobs are both white collar and blue collar, in big cities and small towns, and are found all across the state.

The Texas energy boom is an incredibly positive force for good, resulting in not only new jobs and wealth but also reduced dependence on foreign sources of oil and lower carbon dioxide emissions for America. Indeed, even Slate noted that carbon dioxide emissions are at their lowest level in 20 years, almost entirely due to fracking, and The Economist added that no other nation on earth reduced emissions more than the United States over the past five years– again, due to fracking.

Moreover, the growing Lone Star State economy has produced a windfall of new tax revenue, contributing to the state’s unprecedented multi-billion dollar Rainy Day Fund and allowing Texas to fund infrastructure, public safety, and education priorities. Texas now boasts a perfect AAA credit rating, 50% more people working in education per capita than California, and the two cities with the fastest growing economies in the nation.

Liberal Democrat Wendy Davis, however, has a record of opposing the very policies that have allowed the Texas energy industry– and our state– to thrive.

Siding with Obama’s Overreaching EPA

In 2012, Barack Obama’s top EPA official in Texas, Al Armendariz, resigned after letting slip his true motives for the agency– to “crucify” Texas job-creators:

“It was kind of like how the Romans used to, you know, conquer villages in the Mediterranean,” Armendariz said. “They’d go in to a little Turkish town somewhere, they’d find the first five guys they saw, and they’d crucify them. 

“And then, you know, that town was really easy to manage for the next few years,” he said. 

Armendariz went on to say that “you make examples out of people who are, in this case, not complying with the law … and you hit them as hard as you can” — to act as a “deterrent” to others.

Obama’s “War On Texas,” as the Wall Street Journal 1 has called it, could have dire job-killing consequences for the state and the nation if not for leaders in Texas pushing back.

In that context, Wendy Davis voted against a bill to protect Texans from the Obama Administration’s overreach into our state through its politicized EPA. In 2011, Wendy Davis voted against Senate Bill 875, an energy bill supported by more than 90% of Texas legislators.

The bill, later signed into law by the Governor, prevents bureaucrats from engaging in the kind of backdoor overregulation of Texas oil and gas companies that is causing a “severe detrimental impact on businesses across the United States.” SB 875 also protects Texas businesses which abide by the guidelines of their permits from civil “nuisance” lawsuits. The Texas House Research Organization said of the bill:

SB 875 would protect Texas businesses from greenhouse gas nuisance and trespass lawsuits that stemmed from the EPA’s unilateral and flawed proposed regulation…. SB 875 is the state’s only recourse to protect Texas businesses from the EPA’s unilateral decision to regulate greenhouse gases without congressional authorization.

Despite such overwhelming bipartisan support in favor of the legislation, Davis was among the roughly 10% of Texas legislators who voted against the bill. In fact, she voted against the bill four times as it moved through the process.

Given the EPA’s well-documented regulatory targeting of Texas, Wendy Davis siding with Washington over her own state is all that much more troubling.

Don’t Drill, Baby, Don’t Drill

As Wendy Davis supporter Vivian Norris put it, “Wendy Davis has not only been outspoken about women’s right to abortion… she also made her voice heard speaking out against fracking in the Barnett Shale region of Texas.”

Indeed, in 2009, Wendy Davis introduced legislation (Senate Bill 2402, which went nowhere) to create a special carve-out regulatory authority for her home district separate from Texas’ existing regulatory agencies, in order to strictly regulate natural gas drilling in Tarrant County.

Also going nowhere in 2009 was Wendy Davis’ legislation (Senate Bill 1154) intended to create new occupational licensing requirements for landmen in Texas. The bill would have ensnared anyone negotiating business agreements that relate to the exploration or development of petroleum, natural gas, or minerals, erroneously classifying many oil and gas company employees as landmen and preventing even the most experienced current landmen from conducting business until cutting through spools of red tape from new layers of state bureaucracy.

A third piece of legislation introduced by Wendy Davis in 2009 (Senate Bill 902) would have created new and unprecedented burdens on oil and gas drillers and required the hiring of new government regulators around the state to enforce the new rules. This bill, and its negative fiscal note, also went nowhere.

In 2011, Texas took proactive measures to require disclosure of all the constituent chemicals, compounds, and water volume contained in frac fluids. The bill was supported by the energy industry and environmental groups alike. Wendy Davis authored, introduced, and voted for three anti-fracking poison pill amendments (Floor Amendment #3, #4, and #5), which all failed.

On the other side of the coin, when Texas passed common sense, bipartisan oil and gas regulation in 2011 (Senate Bill 1134, supported by a whopping 95% of legislators), which, among other things, requires any facility handling “sour gas” (unrefined natural gas) to be a minimal distance away from recreational areas, residences, or other habitable places not owned by the operator, Wendy Davis was inexplicably one of just a handful of far-left outlier votes against it.

The bills and proposed amendments introduced by Wendy Davis would have created various forms of additional red tape, hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional costs, new bureaucracy, and additional regulatory hoops to jump through, not unlike the regulations that liberals in states like California employ to shut down development. And by voting against legislation supported by overwhelming bipartisan supermajorities, Davis positioned herself on the far-left fringe of her party.

Texas vs. California

While some Texas critics might lazily claim that the Lone Star State has just gotten lucky, because it has oil and gas under the ground while other states don’t, the facts say otherwise. Indeed, California is sitting atop incredible oil and gas resources, but radical environmental policies prevent the state’s energy sector from developing it.

Dr. Art Laffer, et al., explain this phenomenon at greater length in a new report:

Since 1986, California’s oil production has fallen by about half, down about 21 percent since 2001 even as the price of oil has skyrocketed. This is NOT because California is running short of oil. To the contrary, California has access to huge reservoirs of oil offshore (about 10 billion barrels, 1 billion of which is in state waters) and even more in the Monterey Shale, which stretches 200 miles south along the coast and inland from San Francisco. The Department of Energy estimates that California has reserves of about 15 billion barrels of oil—which is about double the Bakken Shale in North Dakota. Occidental Petroleum, the big oil player in California, has recently purchased leases from the U.S. Department of the Interior. But the regulatory climate is still hostile to undertake the hundreds of millions of dollars of speculative investments needed to extract oil from this region….

[California] has passed cap and trade climate change legislation which threatens to add substantially to the costs of conventional energy production and refining in the Golden State….

While California has frowned upon new drilling innovations, Texas has fully embraced the new technological marvels of horizontal drilling and fracking. These breakthroughs have made old oil fields profitable again…. Meanwhile in California, fracking is viewed as a sinister policy and is even banned in some places—even though fracking is far superior today technologically in cracking through shale rock formations to get at the hydrocarbon gases and liquids stored there for millions of years. 

Indeed, because of new drilling methods pioneered by Texan George Mitchell, oil production in the Lone Star State has completely rebounded– and then some– from its decades-long slide, while oil production has continued its decline in oil-rich California and on federal lands:

The Texas economy is exceptional not because we happen to sit atop oil and gas reserves. Rather, Texas is exceptional because our conservative model encourages progress and prosperity, and Texans seize the day, every day, to explore and invent and create.

What’s worse for California, their radical environmental rules limiting industry and commerce aren’t even working particularly well to improve air quality, as California cities dominate the American Lung Association’s list of cities with the worst air pollution (meanwhile, despite robust population and economic growth, zero Texas cities made the list). Moreover, Texas is reducing nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, and ozone in the air at a much faster rate than the rest of the nation.

While Texas Republicans have fought with every tool available against intrusive federal overreach into the state’s economy, Wendy Davis, darling of liberal interest groups, has a record of pushing California-style environmental regulation.

The energy boom in Texas has produced jobs, economic growth, a cleaner environment, more state revenue, and reduced our nation’s dependence on foreign oil. Liberal Democrat Wendy Davis’ repeated votes against the Texas energy sector, not to mention her support for Obamacare, her openness to tens of billions of dollars in higher taxes and fees, and her backing of the job-killing liberal trial lawyer agenda, all serve to remind Texans that the economic policies of Wendy Davis are wrong for Texas.

The Lone Star State is an exceptional place to live, work, and raise a family. Don’t let Wendy Davis California our Texas.

Notes:

  1. WSJ: The EPA's War on Texas

    WSJ: The EPA’s War on Texas
    The agency punishes the state for challenging its anticarbon rules.

    The Environmental Protection Agency’s carbon regulation putsch continues, but apparently abusing the clean-air laws of the 1970s to achieve goals Congress rejected isn’t enough. Late last week, the EPA made an unprecedented move to punish Texas for being the one state with the temerity to challenge its methods.

    To wit, the EPA violated every tenet of administrative procedure to strip Texas of its authority to issue the air permits that are necessary for large power and industrial projects. This is the first time in the history of the Clean Air Act that the EPA has abrogated state control, and the decision will create gale-force headwinds for growth in a state that is the U.S. energy capital. Anyone who claims that carbon regulation is no big deal and that the EPA is merely following the law will need to defend this takeover.

    Since December 2009, the EPA has issued four major greenhouse gas rule-makings, and 13 states have tried to resist the rush. The Clean Air Act stipulates that pollution control is “the primary responsibility of states and local government,” and while the national office sets overall priorities, states have considerable leeway in their “implementation plans.” When EPA’s instructions change, states typically have three years to revise these plans before sending them to Washington for approval.

    This summer, the 13 states requested the full three years for the costly and time-consuming revision process, until the EPA threatened economic retaliation with a de facto construction moratorium. If these states didn’t immediately submit new implementation plans to specification, the agency warned, starting in 2011 projects “will be unable to receive a federally approved permit authorizing construction or modification.” All states but Texas stood down, even as Texas continued to file lawsuits challenging the carbon power grab.

    Two weeks ago, EPA air regulation chief Gina McCarthy sent the Texas environmental department a letter asserting that the agency had “no choice” but to seize control of permitting. She noted “statements in the media” by Texas officials and their “legal challenges to EPA’s greenhouse gas rules,” but she cited no legal basis.

    Gina McCarthy Associated Press And no wonder. The best the EPA could offer up as a legal excuse for voiding Texas’s permitting authority last Thursday was that EPA had erred in originally approving the state’s implementation plan—in 1992, or three Presidents ago.

    The error that escaped EPA’s notice for 18 years was that the Texas plan did not address “all pollutants newly subject to regulation . . . among them GHGs [greenhouse gases].” In other words, back then Texas hadn’t complied with regulations that didn’t exist and wouldn’t be promulgated for another 18 years.

    The takeover was sufficiently egregious that the D.C. circuit court of appeals issued an emergency stay on Thursday suspending the rules pending judicial review. One particular item in need of legal scrutiny is that the permitting takeover is an “interim final rule” that is not open to the normal—and Clean Air Act-mandated—process of public notice and comment. So much for transparency in government.

    The EPA claims its takeover is a matter of great urgency, but Texas is being pre-emptively punished for not obeying rules that don’t exist today because the EPA hasn’t finalized them. “Now, at this early stage, there’s no specifics to tell you about the rules in terms of what we’re announcing today, other than they will be done and we’ll move—take steps moving forward in 2011,” Mrs. McCarthy told reporters on a conference call last week about the agency’s “performance standards” for oil refineries, power plants, cement manufacturers and other such CO2-heavy facilities.

    “It’s way too early in the game right now to be talking about what we think the standards are going to look like,” she added helpfully. “Today’s announcement is just the fact we’re going to move to those standards.”

    This and other permitting uncertainties have brought major projects in the U.S. to a standstill. The Texas takeover in particular is pure political revenge and an effort to intimidate other states from joining the Texan lawsuits. The reason states are supposed to run the clean-air process is that local regulators have the staff, capacity and expertise that Washington lacks. When the carbon rules eventually are issued, that means the takeover will extend the current moratorium even longer in Texas.

    The EPA concedes that some 167 current projects will be affected, and many more in the future. Our guess is that all of them will be delayed for years and many will simply die. This is precisely the goal of a politically driven bureaucracy that wants to impose by illegal diktat the anticarbon, anti-fossil fuel agenda that the Obama Administration has been unable to pass by democratic consent.