Texas Democrats’ Platform Calls For RRC Reform, Fracking Investigations, New TCEQ Officers, Eminent Domain Reform

A detailed list of initiatives, incentives, support for investigations and proposed Legislative actions among the energy planks in the 2018-2020 Texas Democratic Party platform

 

July 2, 2018

 

Texas Democrats are calling for a moratorium on, and an effective phasing out and end of, new fracking within eight years as part of the party platform ratified at the state convention in Ft. Worth, June 22-23, with 7,500 delegates attending.

The platform, released last week, also calls for reform of the Railroad Commission and reform of utility deregulation, creation of CO2 content fees for fossil fuels, an investigation into the effects of fracking, reduction of methane emissions from drilling, retirement of coal-burning power plants and development of a state rail transportation plan.

 

Renewable Energy

 

The 2018-2020 party platform is dominated by alternative and renewable energy, with a call for building desalination plants to provide drinkable water using renewable energy.

It calls for retraining oil and gas workers to become clean energy workers, and for the development of state post-secondary academic research into renewable energy, energy storage and green building tech.

It calls for “actions to cut fossil fuel emissions” in favor of renewables.

And for alternative energy manufacturing financial incentives that can also give homeowners and landlords incentive for energy conservation and efficiency.

And for continuation of programs — and development of state policies — that offer incentives for American-made cleaner vehicles and electric vehicles in Texas.

 

Railroad Commission 

 

The Texas Democratic platform statement refers to the Railroad Commission of Texas as “little more than a rubber stamp for businesses that damage air and water supplies in the name of profit” that uses its regulatory powers as “a political tool.”

Hence, the platform demands the legislature to require RRC regulatory transparency in the declaring of common carrier status; to direct the RRC to increase inspection monitoring and review of pipelines to assist the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration; and to direct the RRC to implement a searchable public database of inspections, enforcement and compliance with environmental rules.

It also calls for ethics and rules review of RRC recusal policy — and the banning of oil and gas industry political contributions to RRC commissioners.

And the platform calls for requiring the RRC to use scientific research to consider quality of life factors and seismic activity when considering drilling permits, including new criteria on injection wells and penalties to deter pollution.

 

Oil & Gas

 

The Texas Democrats platform calls for a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, with a “goal of shutting down existing fracking wells by 2026;” an end to well-injecting wastewater by 2023; incentives to use recycled water and for cleaning produced water; rapid reduction of oil and gas methane emissions; and return of local government control over oil and gas regulation.

It further calls for state investigations into the “deleterious effects of fracking, including the increased incidence of earthquakes from the disposal of liquids into injection wells.”

The platform requires increased protections for cities and towns in train shipments of “highly flammable oil and gas products,” and institution of a “revenue neutral fee on the CO2 content of fossil fuels, with the revenue returned to households on a per capita basis,” and a “broader adjustment” to protect jobs.

 

Environmental Laws

 

The platform calls for the full enforcement of all environmental laws and strengthening of pollution punishments.

It calls for the appointment of new TCEQ officers (“who will enforce state and federal laws…from those who pollute to profit.”)

And it asks for the retiring of “the oldest, heavy-polluting, coal burning Texas power plants;” and end to coal strip-mining; and requiring the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to enforce the Clean Air Act.

Democrats also call for implementation of the federal Chemical Safety Rule and natural hazards risk assessment and mitigation for “major hazard facilities.”

 

Utility Regulation

 

The platform supports requiring the Public Utility Commission of Texas to formulate utilities policies requiring “all providers to display all products” with the same language terminology and industry measurements, with descriptions that are easily understood.

It supports proposed rules to “cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants by 30% (below 2005 levels) by 2030,” and the US rejoining the Paris Climate Accord.

And it supports electric utility requirements of net metering or value-of-solar agreements to bring fair value for on-site solar and wind energy.

The Democratic platform includes creating incentive, including aid grants and zero-interest loans, for electric co-ops to deploy Internet broadband services to the large swaths of rural areas that don’t have access.

 

The platform also opposes a “plan to haul high-level radioactive waste for consolidated storage or disposal in Texas due to risks of water contamination, security concerns and transportation accidents, and we oppose transport of high-level radioactive waste on our highways or railways.”

 

Eminent Domain

 

The Texas Democratic platform also calls for reform in the use of eminent domain laws, which should be allowed “only in cases where necessary and for a clear and rightful public purpose” such as transportation and utilities.

It calls for a state Constitutional amendment to end the giving of private entities “blanket government authority” to use eminent domain laws for condemnation of private property

Proposed interstate pipelines that cross Texas borders should “not be allowed to be segmented to avoid meaningful environmental review to protect our land, water and natural resources.”

 

Climate Change

 

“We recognize that Texas has some of the dirtiest coal plants in the nation, and our residents are at great risk from the health effects of carbon pollution and climate disruption,” the platform states.

“We also recognize that drought, crop failure, famine and disease caused by climate disruption can lead to political instability and violence throughout the world.

“To mitigate these risks, we recommend statewide and national clean energy and transportation policies that will spur economic development and reduce carbon emissions in Texas and the nation through the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency.”

 

See: The Texas Energy Report:  In Depth: Republican Party of Texas Platform Targets Smart Meters, Carbon Taxes, Ethanol and Flooding

 

Revised 7/3/18 to add platform opposition to disposal of high-level radioactive waste