Today’s Campaign Update, Part II
(Because The Campaign Never Ends)
“On my first day as president, I will sign an executive order that puts a total moratorium on all new fossil fuel leases for drilling offshore and on public lands. And I will ban fracking—everywhere.” – Elizabeth Warren
I was asked by a radio host this week for my initial takeaway from CNN’s 7-hour marathon of Democratic Climate Change talking points that aired on September 4. My response was the only thing that came into my head: God help us if any of these people wins the election.
By “us” I mean the oil and gas industry, in which I spent a 38-year career, and everyone in Texas, where I’ve lived my entire life. Because the reality of that 7 hours of talking points by 10 leading contenders for the Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential nomination is that pretty much every idea advanced by the candidates was a direct assault on the industry’s continuing license to operate in the United States, and thus on the Texas economy.
The Texas economy has diversified significantly since the bad old days of the 1980s, when the oil bust collapsed the state’s savings and loan and banking industries and more Texans were out of work than anytime other than during the Great Depression. But despite that diversification, oil and gas still drives more economic growth here than any other business sector.
So, when you see every candidate on that stage – including Texans Julian Castro and Beto O’Rourke – call for the banning of “fracking,” you see a proposal that would throw the Texas economy immediately into a recession and toss tens of thousands of Texans out of work. When you see Kamala Harris and several others demonize the plastics industry, you see a direct attack on Texas, whose chemicals and plastics industry has boomed in the past decade, with hundreds of billions in new capital investments, thanks to cheap natural gas prices.
When you see Andrew Wang and others talk about banning internal combustion engines and forcing everyone to drive an electric vehicle, you see a direct attack on Texas, home to the nation’s largest refining industry. When you see Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden talk about the need to end the use of all fossil fuels in power generation, you see a direct attack on Texas, where natural gas powers more homes and businesses than all other fuel sources. Those attacks on natural gas are also attacks on the environment, given that U.S. carbon emissions have dropped to 1980s-levels in recent years thanks mainly to natural gas displacing coal in power generation.
The attacks on Texas and its economy were not limited to energy alone: Agriculture is the state’s second-most prevalent business. When you see Pete Buttigieg telling Americans that if they eat a hamburger, they’re part of the problem, you’re seeing a direct attack on Texas and its ranching industry.
When you see O’Rourke and others talk about the need to end “corporate farming,” you’re seeing a direct assault on Texas and its farmers, given that, when you look into the details of their various plans, you see that they all call for ending the use of diesel-fueled farm equipment like tractors and combines, not to mention all those Ford F-150s. That’s not just for “corporate” farmers, but for all farmers.
This stark reality, of course, is one of the main reasons why the Democratic National Committee denied requests from Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and a few other candidates to hold a formal debate focused solely on Climate Change. The party’s leaders actually entertain the notion that Texas’s shifting demographics might give their presidential candidate a shot to win the state’s electoral votes in 2020. But they also know that, if Texans become educated on the realities of how the candidates’ various “solutions” would impact their daily lives, those chances will fade accordingly.
Those DNC concerns were well-founded, and CNN did the party no favors by airing those proposals in such great detail. In presidential politics, some promises are better left unmade.
That is all.
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