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This Week in Texas Energy: Texas Big Oil Comes Out Against the Bathroom Bill

Plus: Energy Secretary Rick Perry might head to the Department of Homeland Security, Texas holds on to the number one spot for energy consumption, and big oil and ranchers battle over water resources in West Texas.

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Members of the transgender community take part in a rally on the steps of the Texas Capitol, Monday, March 6, 2017, in Austin, Texas.
AP Photo/Eric Gay

Big Oil Weighs in On Bathroom Bill

Texas’s energy industry giants came out against Texas’s so-called bathroom bill on Monday, when the leaders of some of Houston’s biggest oil and gas companies penned a letter addressed to Governor Greg Abbott warning him that the bill will be bad for Texas, according to Texas Monthly’s R.G. Ratcliffe. “As members of Houston’s business community, we write to express our concern with the proposed ‘bathroom bill’ being considered in this special legislative session,” the letter says. It continues:

We support diversity and inclusion, and we believe that any such bill risks harming Texas’ reputation and impacting the state’s economic growth and ability to create new jobs. Innovative companies are driven by their people, and winning the talent recruitment battle is key. Any bill that harms our ability to attract top talent to Houston will inhibit our growth and continued success—and ultimately the success of our great state.

The heads of Exxon, Haliburton, Chevron, BP, Dow Chemical, ConocoPhillips, and Shell all signed the bill, along with some representatives from large businesses outside of the energy sector, including BBVA Compass and Rice University.

Cabinet Shuffle

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry may be on the move in Washington, D.C., where he’s been managing President Donald Trump’s Department of Energy (although according to a recent story in Vanity Fair, “managing” may be a bit generous). A Bloomberg report this week said that Trump is considering shuffling Perry from his Energy post to the head of the Department of Homeland Security, after former head John Kelly was plucked to be Trump’s chief of staff. Head of Homeland Security would be an interesting fit for the former Dancing With the Stars contestant—arguably a more seamless transition than Perry’s foray into Energy, given his experience handling border security and immigration issues during his time as the governor of Texas. For comparison, when he accepted the Energy Secretary gig, Perry admittedly knew very little about what department was even supposed to do. Now, he apparently feels right at home, though. “Secretary Perry is focused on the important mission of the Department of Energy,” Robert Haus, director of public affairs at the department, told Bloomberg. “He’s honored to be mentioned, but he loves what he’s doing.”

We’re Number One!

If you’re reading this roundup, it’s probably fair to say you’re an energy-obsessed Texan. Well guess what? You’re not alone. A report released this week by the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows the Lone Star State sits atop the list of the nation’s biggest energy consumers, and it’s not even close. According to the report, Texas consumes nearly one hundred times as much energy as Vermont, and accounts for nearly 13 percent of the energy consumed in the entire country. Also, California, despite having a population larger than us by a solid 12 million souls, uses only 60 percent as much energy we do. How sad for those sun-baked West Coasters. Despite the gaudy overall numbers, Texas is relatively conservation-minded when it comes to energy, with a per capita consumption rate that lands it in the bottom 20 percent of all states. For a deeper look at the findings of the report, check out Texas Monthly‘s story.

West Texas Water Showdown

A battle is brewing over water resources in West Texas, where ranchers and environmentalists are fighting an oilman who wants to pump millions of gallons of water a day from the mountains to the Permian Basin for fracking, according to the Houston Chronicle. Dan Allen Hughes Jr., one of the largest landowners in the nation and the president of his father’s oil company, Dan A. Hughes Company, plans to tap an aquifer below his 140,000-acre Apache Ranch in Van Horn. The plan isn’t particularly popular among the locals. West Texas farmers, ranchers, residents and environmentalists are concerned the project will take water from their cattle, dry up their crops, and potentially cut off the spring that feeds the beloved pool at nearby Balmorhea State Park. “That’s a lot of water,” Bill Addington, a rancher and conservationist from neighboring Sierra Blanca, told the Chronicle. “Believe me, there’s many people who have plans to sue if this goes forward. We will sue.” The Culberson County Groundwater Conservation District approved Hughes’s plan on Wednesday, so it looks like we’re about to bear witness to a legal battle here.

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