It’s a commonly quoted fact that Texas, if it were a sovereign nation, would have the 14th largest economy in the world, coming in immediately behind Russia, Canada, Australia, and India. Listed as one of the top four industries in the state, the energy industry’s activity has contributed a great deal of the crucial jobs, capital, and innovation required for the state to achieve such a ranking.
However, energy success is in spite of Washington: federal regulators are waging war against Texas energy and the higher standard of living, lower prices, and greater efficiency it brings about. Put simply, many environmental regulations are a bureaucratic tip of the hat to the free market’s enemies.
With a friendly business climate and moderate taxation, Texas has experienced surprising prosperity—even through the recession in 2008—and continues to grow despite federal interference. Like the Keystone Pipeline, job-creating energy projects are numerous in Texas (the oil and gas capital of the United States) but the federal government halts, stifles, over-regulates, and heavily taxes such efforts.
In 2012, the Texas Independent Producers & Royalty Owners Association (TIPRO) reported that the oil and gas industry employed 379,800 people in 2012; Texas added the most new jobs in the oil and gas industry in the first half of 2012, rising by 34,600. Two of the world’s ten biggest refineries are in Southeast Texas, and the state leads the nation in crude oil production and refining.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a grossly unconstitutional bureaucracy influenced not by reality but by far-flung special interests groups, leads the assault on Texas energy. For instance, the EPA forced the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule on Texas because of a hypothetical connection between the state’s emissions and a pollution monitor in Granite City, Illinois. The costs of complying add up to $2.4 billion every year—for that rule alone. Commentators were of the opinion that the EPA was “picking on Texas.”
Greenhouse gas regulations influenced many manufacturers to scale back expansion projects because of the compliance costs. Recent ozone standards will likely kill 7.3 million jobs by 2020 and on top of that will add over $1 trillion in regulatory costs per year. Estimates put the costs at hundreds of thousands of jobs.
The Las Brisas Energy Center in Corpus Christi, a project of Chase Power, closed because of the “insurmountable regulatory framework erected by the EPA,” as the Washington Times reports Chase Power CEO Dave Freysinger saying. The regulation destroyed around 3,900 prospective Texas jobs. The ditched project is not an isolated incident.
“The Las Brisas Energy Center is a victim of EPA’s concerted effort to stifle solid-fuel energy facilities in the U.S., including EPA’s carbon-permitting requirements and EPA’s New Source Performance Standards for new power plants,” he continued, “These costly rules exceeded the bounds of EPA authority, incur tremendous costs, and produce no real benefits related to climate change.”
The damage done by the EPA on Texas jobs and state prosperity is incalculable; it has little foundation in science; and even assuming that the science was correct, the harmful regulations would do little to stop pollution or “climate change.”
Enemies of the free market may not be concerned about the environment, but they are interested in crippling the remnants of free nation and backhanding American energy prices. The question at hand is not one of clean air, but of freedom: does government control really help anything? Look to Chernobyl.
The EPA may be well-intentioned, but more than likely not. Controlling the energy sector is the easiest way to get a grip on the economy; extreme leftists are aware of that. It’s a handy foot-in-the-door trick that makes it possible, nay, likely that more controls can be placed on other industries. Texas cannot stand for this. While legislation like the REINS Act and the American Energy Renaissance Act (introduced by Texas Senator Ted Cruz) will definitely relieve the energy sector’s regulatory nightmare, in the end the answer lies in abolishing the agency itself.
Nearly everything is bigger in Texas, but unemployment lines, electricity bills, gas prices, and federal jurisdiction should have an exemption.