Federal

Gov. Abbott Signs Oil and Gas Executive Order Targeting Federal Overreach

After a roundtable discussion in Odessa on Thursday, Governor Greg Abbott detailed more of his priorities for the legislative session and signed an executive order instructing state agencies to identify ways to push back against federal overreach with respect to the energy industry.

The order, which is the first the governor has signed since October and the first non-coronavirus related order since the pandemic began last year, directs agencies “to use all lawful powers and tools to challenge any federal action that threatens the continued strength, vitality, and independence of the energy industry.”

“Each state agency should work to identify potential litigation, notice-and-comment opportunities, and any other means of preventing federal overreach within the law,” it states.

“And when they do that,” added Abbott during the press conference, “that will arm Texas to be prepared to fight back.”

The governor called the order “a homework assignment for every state agency in Texas.”

Asked what the consequences would be if the agencies failed to act on the order, Abbott said, “They better get their homework done, otherwise there will be new leadership.” 

The governor’s order comes one day after President Biden issued an executive order prohibiting new oil and gas drilling on federal lands.

Abbott said that Biden’s prohibition did not affect Texas as much as some other states since a small portion of the land used for oil and gas in the state is owned by the federal government, but noted that he expected the industry to face more regulations under the new president.

“I know already that the Biden administration will be trying to take actions that will make it harder, more difficult, and more costly for businesses [. . .] to do business. So we’re going to be fighting every single day,” said Abbott.

The governor also noted some different pieces of legislation that he wants to see the legislature pass, as well as asserting that any “Green New Deal-type” legislation would be met with a veto.

Abbott said that he is “supporting legislation that prohibits cities and counties from banning natural gas appliances,” and he emphasized the “importance of not double-regulating the economy.”

“There are regulations coming from the federal government that need to be fought back against, [and] the last thing the energy industry needs is additional regulations, either from the state level or the local level,” he stated.

Of those local regulations, Abbott singled out potential bans on natural gas.

“In Texas, we will not let cities use political correctness to dictate what energy source you use. So I am supporting legislation that prohibits cities and counties from banning natural gas appliances,” said the governor.

Unrelated to energy, Abbott said that the legislature should consider making some of his regulatory rollbacks during the coronavirus pandemic permanent, such as alcohol-to-go and telemedicine.

The governor also signaled his support for rural broadband expansion, saying that “every zip code across the entire state of Texas has full, equal, and robust access to broadband access,” as well as civil liability protections for businesses that operated during the pandemic.

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