LANDGRAF: Killing bad bills and protecting energy jobs

By State Rep. Brooks Landgraf

By now you may have heard of the eventful year at the Texas Capitol. It was one filled with many months of hard work and many challenges. However, this year I was also presented with a unique opportunity in the legislature. For the first time as a state representative, I was tapped to chair a committee of the Texas House of Representatives.

I was honored to be appointed by Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) to serve as chairman of the House Environmental Regulation Committee. In addition to having oversight over the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), the committee has jurisdiction over all matters pertaining to waste disposal and pollution, including environmental regulation of industrial development.

As chairman, I was on the front lines protecting the interests of the Permian Basin by standing in the way of radical policies like those peddled in Washington, D.C. and by the Biden Administration. These were the types of policies favored by out-of-touch big-city politicians who are attempting to phase out oil and gas production in the name of the environment.

Some folks pushing this agenda have made their way into the Texas Capitol, however, they faced an uphill battle coming through my committee.

I worked to ensure radical environmental bills referred to the committee, such as legislation seeking to implement aspects of the “Green New Deal” or outlaw flaring, were not passed into law. Not a single one of these bad bills made it out of the House on my watch. The House Environmental Regulation Committee is where bad bills went to die in 2021.

One very important bill that did pass out of the committee and was signed into law, however, was House Bill 4472. I filed HB 4472 during the 2021 regular session to reform the Texas Emissions Reduction Program (TERP) to allow industry and innovation to flourish without the threat of shutdown from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Clean Air Activism.

With the passage of HB 4472, operators can now obtain grants for oil and gas technologies that reduce flaring and site emissions. It also ensures the Permian Basin has a chance to benefit from the federally required program. In other words, this is a policy that allows Texas to balance our environment and our economy in a way that’s beneficial to both. I’m proud of that.

Another crucial bill that passed out of the committee during the second special session in 2021 was House Bill 7. I authored this bill to prevent the country’s high-level radioactive waste from being shipped into Texas and Andrews County. The Andrews County Commissioners Court voted unanimously in opposition to the storage of high-level radioactive waste in the county and the voice of Andrews was heard loud and clear.

Together, we successfully passed a bill that opposed the Biden Administration’s U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issuance of a license to compel the storage of high-level radioactive waste at a new facility in Andrews County. We beat them to the punch and prevented radioactive waste of decommissioned nuclear reactors from all over the country from being stored in West Texas for 40 years. Although the Biden Administration is now trying to break Texas law, House Bill 7 gives us a strong leg to stand on as we resist the federal government’s attempt to make the Permian Basin its dumping ground for high-level radioactive waste.

There is no doubt our way of life is under attack. However, you have my word that I will continue to fight relentlessly to protect the livelihood of the hardest working men and women on the face of the earth — those who reside in the Permian Basin. The ability to achieve energy independence is a living, breathing reality thanks to your hard work. What we do here is important, something that positively impacts lives across the globe and brings prosperity to our state and nation. We must keep it that way.

God bless Texas!