Biden issues stack of executive actions to tackle climate crisis after four years of Trump

Texas governor threatens to sue Joe Biden because of his ‘hostile’ agenda to tackle climate crisis

Abbott calls on every state agency to challenge federal action that threatens oil and gas industry

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Monday 01 February 2021 12:52
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Texas governor Greg Abbott pledged to fight climate crisis executive orders signed by Joe Biden that he claims will undercut his state’s oil and gas production.

Through his own executive order, the governor authorised state agencies to bring legal challenges to policies implemented by the new president and his administration.

“When it comes to threats to your jobs, you have a governor who has your back,” Mr Abbott told workers at an oilfield service firm where he signed his order. “Texas is going to protect the oil and gas industry from any type of hostile attack from Washington.”

On Wednesday Mr Biden unveiled a series of orders designed to combat climate change that energy producing states see as a threat to their core businesses.

The president made climate change a national security concern, ordered a pause in new oil and gas leases on federal land, and cut subsidies as part of his drive to transition away from fossil fuels.

He also directed federal agencies to “procure carbon pollution-free electricity and clean, zero-emission vehicles to create good-paying, union jobs and stimulate clean energy industries.”

Mr Biden hopes to set the country on a path to decarbonise the power sector by 2035, and reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

When Mr Abbott was the state's attorney general during the Obama administration he sued the federal government 31 times — mostly over environmental legislation and regulation.

Ken Paxton, the current attorney general of Texas, has already challenged the new administration by asking a federal judge to temporarily block enforcement of a Department of Homeland Security directive establishing a 100-day halt to most deportations.

“Texas will continue with that litigation strategy to fight back against any efforts by the Biden administration that threaten either the energy sector in general or jobs in the energy sector,” Governor Abbott said.

Mr Abbott said the executive order he signed on Thursday calls on “every state agency to use all lawful powers and tools to challenge any federal action that threatens the strength, vitality or independence of the energy industry in Texas.”

"This is a homework assignment for every state agency in Texas," he added.

The governor also plans to prohibit cities in Texas from banning natural gas appliances under a state bill he intends to file.

Texas produces more than 40 per cent of the nation's crude oil, and just under a quarter of its natural gas. The oil and gas industry makes up approximately one third of the gross state product.

Environmentalists argue that the governor’s order is misguided given the severity of climate change’s impacts on the state from hurricanes, storms, flooding, and extreme heat waves.

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