Latest Columns

Texas benefits from investing in safe pipelines

Texas has always led the nation in oil and gas innovation. We must use all the sensible tools within reach to maximize our abilities to safely and efficiently move our energy resources to consumer markets in the U.S. and to our allies around the globe.

The public should have a say before anyone cuts a pipeline through the Texas Hill Country

The folks of the Hill Country aren’t just advocating for their own land, they’re advocating for all of Texas. We all need protection from bad actors exploiting regulatory holes. It’s time for the Texas Legislature to step up and implement a public routing process for large transmission pipelines, and common-sense protections for our landowners, our communities and our environment.

Gas flaring is a symptom of political wrong-headedness

Only ten years ago, most Americans would probably have scoffed at the notion that wasting natural resources is “necessary.” But the fracking boom changed that: As the boom has catapulted the U.S. into the top five flaring nations, just behind Iran and Iraq, flaring has become the symbol of opportunistic wastefulness in an industry at the center of the climate crisis. 

What’s next for Texas?

Texas' prosperity and growth were not the result of dumb luck. They were cultivated deliberately over decades. Local and state policy makers and business leaders worked together to plan and make strategic public investments that allowed our economy and our communities to thrive. But there are signs that Texas is entering an era of diminishing returns.

Renewable energy subsidies are wrong for Texas

If we want to avoid the high energy prices seen in places like California and New York while enjoying supplies of reliable energy, subsidies won’t work. If we want our neighbors to live healthy lives, if we believe in an open, democratic political process, and if we believe in the prosperity provided by the free market, our current path of subsidizing renewable energy is the wrong one.

Cryptocurrencies could increase capacity for renewable energy

Crypto-mining, the process by which a global network of computers verify Bitcoin transactions, could allow for more renewable energy sources like wind and solar to be integrated into our electricity systems. By running off electricity that would otherwise be curtailed because of low demand, crypto-mining could allow more clean energy to be profitably built on the grid.

The science on climate change is not settled

Many view oil and gas as an antiquated energy source — a relic of the past that will soon be replaced with so-called "green" alternatives. However, when looking at our ever-growing need for energy, it quickly becomes very clear that fossil fuels are going to remain our primary source of energy for the foreseeable future.

Solar and smart homes converge in Texas

The number of smart devices already in use is tremendous, and the vision for the solar-powered smart home is compelling. Homeowners will soon have both an undreamed number of automated new conveniences and unprecedented control over their energy use.

Fossil fuels and higher education in Texas

It may be financially prudent for the state's Permanent University Fund to diversify its portfolio away from fossil fuels. If such assets are still going to be valuable for some time, however, it would be counterproductive to divest from fossil fuels rather than putting those revenues to good use.

Texas oil subsidies, at a crossroads

The GOP talks of modernizing the tax code. That is a useful concept, because it is a very modern reality that taxes feed oil, and oil contributes to climate change. It’s time to take away the permanent status of oil subsidies. Congress should remove subsidies to the oil industry.

Don’t take reliable energy for granted

Federal regulators need to correct past mistakes, ensure the long-term sustainability of our power grid and pursue a diverse portfolio that ensures resiliency, reliability, affordability and sustainability that keeps our country so strong and vibrant. I believe that should include coal and nuclear power.

El Paso: A test case for proposals attacking rooftop solar

This proposal especially burns customers who invested in solar with the understanding that it would pay for itself through lower electricity bills. SEIA said more than half of current solar customers would lose 40 percent of their expected savings. Others would pay more for electricity than if they had never installed solar at all!

President Trump’s offshore executive order is an important first step

Applied properly, financial assurance is a common-sense requirement. To qualify for a lease, energy companies currently must put up bonds or other collateral to ensure there will be funds to decommission a well once the oil and gas have been extracted. This ensures that bankruptcy or malfeasance can’t endanger the environment or force taxpayers to foot the bill to plug a well.

UT needs to cut the polluting

Hundreds of companies lease land from UT to drill for oil and gas. Managed by University Lands — which has a similar arrangement with the Texas A&M System — these 2 million acres of UT lands are home to more than 9,000 oil and gas wells. This land, and the oil and gas that’s extracted from it, generates millions of dollars of revenue for the UT System. But in addition to revenue, oil and gas production also produces significant emissions of a powerful climate pollutant: methane.

The need for better Texas oil and gas industry regulatory data

RRC’s information on oil and gas venting and flaring practices provides a critical measure of the efficiency of the oil and gas industry. With improved access to and clarity of information on venting and flaring volumes, scientists and the general public can better understand why, when and where some types of organizations and wells vent or flare at a higher rate than others.

It’s time to deliver on the promise of electricity deregulation

It’s clear that deregulation hasn’t fulfilled its potential. Yet, Texas’s independent streak and history of bold innovation in energy means you can never count it out. The state is also uniquely positioned to benefit from a combination of advanced consumer technology and widespread access to rich smart meter data in Texas.

America Would Benefit from a Rick Perry Frame of Mind

Beyond his bullish stance on domestic energy production and proven management prowess, energy secretary nominee Rick Perry’s philosophy about the role of government in general will be a shot in the arm for America, which has been bogged down for too long by bureaucrats and over-regulation.

It’s time to lift the crude oil export ban

In order to keep production going, and our economy growing, energy producers need access to the global market. The crude oil export ban represents an outdated, protectionist policy that negatively impacts our national security interests.

The road out of Denton

After the dramatic series of legal and legislative twists and turns sparked by a citizen-led effort to ban fracking in Denton, what have we learned? And what's next for Texas?

Reopen Barnett Shale water probe

North Texas homeowners have complained for years that drilling has contaminated their drinking water. Our new research suggests they’re right. Here's how the state could help put this controversy to bed.

Why Denton should ban fracking

A prohibition on fracking in Denton will make the city healthier, safer and more prosperous. Next month, voters should ignore the industry's attempts at deception and exaggeration and approve the ban. 

Why Denton shouldn't ban fracking

A measure on the November ballot in Denton won’t just ban fracking. It’ll effectively prohibit all drilling in the city, leading to economic damage and putting property rights at risk. Denton voters should say no to the ban.

It's time for real eminent domain reform

As the former mayor of DISH, I know a thing or two about the impacts of natural gas development in Texas — especially the creeping threat of eminent domain. Texans deserve better than what the Legislature has given us.

An unlikely alliance in Houston: art and oil

Though it may make for strange bedfellows, Houston's vibrant arts scene has forged an enduring relationship with the city's oil and gas industry. And while the alliance has raised ethical questions, I, for one, am thankful for it.

How I'd fix the Railroad Commission

When it comes to the office of Texas railroad commissioner, there’s not a more important elected position in Texas — and perhaps the nation — that so few people seem to know or care about. Here's how I would increase public trust in this vital agency.

Get big donors out of energy policy

Texas — a place where the energy economy isn’t under siege by ideologues and special interests — shows exactly how Americans will benefit once the nation overcomes those awful influences.