A recent op-ed published in the Houston Chronicle by Lucero Cantu, Digital Director at the American Conservation Coalition, argues that the strong performance of Texas Republicans in the 2020 presidential and congressional elections can be attributed to their pro-energy policies. Cantu describes how, despite expectations of Democratic Party gains, Republican candidates dominated up and down the ballot:
“Even with 2 million more voters casting ballots, Texas Republicans swept statewide races. Sen. John Cornyn won his reelection bid more than comfortably, and House Republicans all fended off their challengers. Even in open races with retiring Republican incumbents, Republican candidates were victorious.”
Of all the factors that contributed to those victories, a responsible energy platform more consistent with the interests of Texans was among the foremost. While Joe Biden and Kamala Harris repeatedly suggested that they might move to restrict fracking and immediately transition away from fossil fuels, the GOP made clear that they would defend the oil and natural gas industry that employs more than 1.8 million Texans and is so crucial to the state’s economic strength.
Cantu goes on to argue that Democratic energy proposals were not only politically untenable, but also environmentally detrimental:
“Banning fracking is not only a nonstarter for Texans, but it’s also not an environmentally-friendly approach; natural gas is far less carbon-intensive than alternatives like coal. The United States was able to lead the world in reducing carbon emissions in no small part thanks to the shale boom.”
Natural gas and oil need not be the only sources of energy produced in Texas. Cantu notes that besides leading the country in crude-oil production, Texas also has the nation’s largest wind energy capacity. But sacrificing decades of gains and hundreds of thousands of jobs for a quick political win isn’t a viable option.
Looking beyond November, Cantu describes the need for bipartisan collaboration towards an all-of-the-above energy strategy that makes use of various energy sources according to their specific strengths. Such an approach would allow environmental objectives and economic imperatives to be pursued simultaneously. He writes:
“Economic growth and environmental protection are not mutually exclusive, and leaders of both parties should prioritize real solutions, even if they don’t fit into a neat partisan box. Texas voters have made their values clear; now the real work to pivot those values into action begins. “
Whatever that work might ultimately entail, the position of Texas voters is clear, and it is crucial that their voices are reflected in future policies that preserve and grow their state’s oil and natural gas industry.