Austin American-Statesman. February XX, 2022.
Editorial: O’Rourke is Democrats’ finest wager to beat Abbott
When Beto O’Rourke ran for U.S. Senate towards Republican Sen. Ted Cruz 4 years in the past, he generated fawning nationwide headlines, comparisons to JFK, and the adoration of Texas Democrats who noticed him because the potential savior their occasion desperately wanted.
After two failed election campaigns, together with the hard-fought Senate contest and an aborted run for president in 2020, O’Rourke’s once-shining star has noticeably dimmed, although the previous three-term congressman from El Paso stays extremely in style amongst state Democrats. A College of Texas/Texas Politics Undertaking Ballot final week confirmed overwhelming Democratic assist for O’Rourke on this major, with 93% of verified major voters backing him over former journalist Pleasure Diaz, auto government Michael Cooper, former public utility guide Wealthy Wakeland and Inocencio “Inno” Barrientez.
O’Rourke’s platform addresses core Democratic values — lowering obstacles to voting, increasing Medicaid and high-paying union jobs, enhancing well being care and housing for veterans, and implementing air pollution legal guidelines, for instance. This could enchantment to Texans who really feel they’ve been left behind by Abbott’s extra divisive, extremely partisan insurance policies. Whereas some would possibly query the power of the Democratic area within the governor’s race, O’Rourke is the best-positioned candidate and we suggest Democrats vote for him within the March 1 major.
O’Rourke has additionally known as for legalizing marijuana and expunging marijuana convictions, and strengthening Texas’ place as a nationwide chief in clear vitality.
However you may not know this from O’Rourke’s reasonably one-dimensional marketing campaign and his fierce criticism of Abbott’s inept response to Winter Storm Uri, which left at the very least 246 Texans lifeless and far of the state with out energy and water for days and, in some instances, weeks.
O’Rourke is correct to query Abbott’s position within the state’s failure to guard its energy grid — it’s a stain on the governor’s document. However whereas questions persist in regards to the grid’s reliability, Texas dodged one other electrical energy blackout throughout a freeze final month. O’Rourke ought to increase his message or danger being perceived as a one-note candidate.
After which there’s the gun situation. After a madman massacred 23 individuals and injured 23 others in El Paso in 2019, a distraught O’Rourke pleaded for extra restrictive gun legal guidelines, and declared: “Hell sure, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47.”
Loads of Texans appreciated the pledge. However others, together with independents whose assist O’Rourke wants, heard it as a menace to their Second Modification rights.
A firearm proprietor himself, O’Rourke has since tried to melt his rhetoric, insisting that he doesn’t assist banning weapons, however would attempt to prohibit entry to individuals with a document of violence or psychological sickness. Nonetheless, O’Rourke owes all Texans a extra detailed define of his plan to limit AR-15s and AK-47s.
O’Rourke may not have the identical mass enchantment he as soon as did, however he stays a galvanizing determine in Democratic politics. Democrats ought to put him on the poll for governor in November.
Dallas Morning Information. February 20, 2022.
Editorial: Don’t flip towards wind energy, Texas conservatives
We ought to be pleased with and construct on this success.
We’re a good distance from 2015, when, in his farewell tackle, Gov. Rick Perry advised legislators that they “could be proud that Texas produces extra vitality from wind generators than all however 5 international locations.”
At present, this important supply of vitality is extra strong in Texas than it ever has been. However — forgive us — the political sizzling air is blowing even stronger.
Gov. Greg Abbott acquired us began down this highway when he determined, incorrectly, responsible wind and photo voltaic vitality for the electrical energy provide drawback in the course of the 2021 winter storm.
Since then, Texas Republicans have piled on, seizing on varied variations of a “reliables not renewables” slogan that sound nice in a stump speech and match simply tremendous on a bumper sticker however that may fail to guide us to severe coverage that truly addresses the state’s vitality wants sooner or later.
It’s a disgrace as a result of Texas conservatives have each cause to be pleased with the best way our state unlocked this pure useful resource to supply large quantities of low cost vitality and create 1000’s of jobs. No different state is near Texas in wind manufacturing. We’ve got put in capability for 3 times the wind vitality of Iowa, which is No. 2 within the nation. Texans can thank George W. Bush for getting us actually rolling with wind vitality and Perry for nurturing it alongside.
In immediately’s age of Twitter politics, that’s all however forgotten now, and wind is that this election season’s whipping boy.
Candidates aren’t simply calling for the state to get rid of sources to assist the wind vitality business, some wish to take steps that might all however disable it. We’ve even heard calls to ban personal landowners from leasing property to wind operators. Discuss authorities interference.
There are good causes to be involved in regards to the position that renewable vitality — and in Texas which means wind — performs within the broader vitality panorama. Because the Dallas Federal Reserve famous in an August 2021 paper, renewable vitality now accounts for 1 / 4 of all vitality consumption within the state, with nearly all of that being wind-generated energy. That’s up from simply 8% in 2010, a transparent indication of how shortly the business has grown and the way precious it’s to offering the state with clear, low cost electrical energy.
All of that manufacturing has an affect on the sources of provide. As wind era has elevated, the inducement to put money into different sources of manufacturing has decreased. That might be tremendous if the wind all the time blew or if we didn’t have excessive climate that spikes demand.
However the wind doesn’t all the time blow, and it doesn’t all the time blow on the proper time — in the course of the warmth of the day, for instance. In the meantime, we’re experiencing not solely extra excessive climate that spikes demand but in addition inhabitants development that’s going to maintain demand excessive for a very long time to come back.
None of this can be a good cause to punish the wind business.
But that’s precisely how it’s being handled on the marketing campaign path and really possible shall be handled within the coming legislative session if we aren’t cautious. That won’t assist Texas tackle its long-term vitality wants, and good conservatives higher determine the right way to keep away from letting the political rhetoric flip into precise coverage in Austin.
Within the final legislative session, a poorly thought of effort from state Sen. George Schwertner, R-Georgetown, would have larded new charges on photo voltaic and wind vitality producers for ancillary grid service prices historically borne by customers, not mills.
A consortium of main companies, from GE to Amazon to Financial institution of America, implored the state to not enact that provision of a significant vitality reform invoice. Cooler heads prevailed, and the supply was not within the remaining invoice, though the invoice did empower the Public Utility Fee to allocate ancillary companies prices “in a way per cost-causation rules.” You possibly can learn that as doubtlessly assigning them to renewable vitality producers.
A wiser strategy for conservatives is to acknowledge the large worth the wind business gives to Texas after which flip to addressing the shortage of funding in thermal manufacturing — particularly pure gasoline energy crops. Given our development and the chance that extra excessive climate is on the best way, Texas goes to wish each.
We must also work towards changing into a frontrunner in energy storage options. Whilst we’re a global chief in wind energy, the state can be set to considerably improve photo voltaic capability, which immediately is a fraction of the overall energy provide. However with out higher energy storage, the issue renewables current shall be onerous to deal with whilst provide of renewable vitality will increase.
There’s a job for the Legislature to play in serving to Texas get to a safe vitality future quicker.
Sadly, that isn’t what Texas Republican candidates are promoting to voters now. Let’s hope the dangerous politics doesn’t spoil a Texas triumph.
Fort Value Star-Telegram. February 20, 2022.
Editorial: Texas goes sluggish on medical marijuana, leisure use. Right here’s why that’s good
On the subject of marijuana coverage, Texas has gone sluggish, far too sluggish for some.
However the tempo is excellent. Every step towards legalization ought to be modest and deliberate. Results ought to be studied. Tradeoffs want examination. Sturdy debate on whether or not to go additional ought to be knowledgeable by information and outcomes, not hypothesis.
On main coverage modifications, the regulation of unintended penalties calls for respect. Marijuana reform advocates typically cite Colorado, the place voters accepted full legalization in 2012, as a mannequin. Arrests for driving underneath the affect of marijuana elevated, state researchers discovered. Utilization was up dramatically, significantly amongst younger males. However some opponents’ predictions of a surge in violent crime didn’t pan out.
Then, there’s the issues posed by the truth that no matter states do, marijuana stays a managed substance underneath federal regulation. That creates harmful conditions for pot dispensers on the subject of banking. And the efficiency of latest marijuana has Colorado placing some limits on the drug even post-legalization.
Careless legislating can causes issues. Oklahoma permits, in concept, solely medical utilization, however there are few restrictions on having access to marijuana. The state additionally has no limits on dispensaries, and because of this, they’ve popped up in higher numbers than in states with full legalization.
The Texas Legislature, working part-time and dealing in a fury on difficult points, is actually vulnerable to such errors. In 2019, lawmakers licensed hemp however didn’t heed warnings that crime labs weren’t outfitted to tell apart between it and intoxicating types of hashish. Consequently, marijuana prosecutors have been compromised for months.
Texas has taken small steps to date, permitting medical marijuana just for a particular checklist of circumstances, after which solely in a kind that’s low in THC, the chemical within the drug that causes a excessive. The subsequent logical step can be to increase the circumstances for which hashish is permitted. Nevertheless it shouldn’t be thrown open to any physician’s wink-and-nod prescription, particularly at first.
Decriminalization of possession of small quantities of marijuana is sensible earlier than full-blown legalization. Consensus is constructing that it is unnecessary to clog up jails and courts over small quantities of pot that may be dealt with with misdemeanor citations.
Tarrant County police departments have just lately had discretion to not arrest suspects in small-possession instances. It’s been lower than a yr, however there’s no proof the coverage results in extra use or different issues. Austin has gone additional for longer, not even issuing citations in lots of instances.
How far to go and how briskly stays up for debate. The purpose is that there are coverage experiments underway that ought to be studied earlier than sweeping modifications are made.
Full legalization in Texas is a good distance off — accurately. Earlier than leisure use is allowed, we have to contemplate society-wide implications. Is straightforward entry to a different intoxicant sensible in an period when despair and listlessness appear on the rise? How a lot human potential can we afford to lose to authorized drug use?
Marijuana is a matter wherein Texas’ slow-grinding authorities processes could be to our profit. By taking deliberate steps, measuring penalties and studying the teachings of different states and localities, Texas can chart its course the most secure, smartest approach.
San Antonio Categorical-Information. February 16, 2022.
Editorial: Grid reform nonetheless missing a yr after lethal freeze
Even now, the reminiscence of Winter Storm Uri’s first snowfall stays contemporary and pristine.
We will shut our eyes and consider the sense of pleasure and magic that so typically accompanies the arrival of snow in San Antonio. We even felt it the primary morning of the storm.
Rapidly, although, that sense of marvel and exhilaration a yr in the past gave solution to unease, confusion and stress amid rolling blackouts and poor communication from state officers and CPS Vitality. Thousands and thousands of Texans froze at midnight for days. A whole bunch of individuals died. Pipes burst. It was every week from hell. Texans pays for the grid failure for years.
The one-year anniversary of Winter Storm Uri is a time to mirror on the numerous layers of failed management that not solely allowed the widespread outages to happen but in addition exacerbated the struggling of hundreds of thousands of Texans.
This failure in management goes again to February 2011 when a winter storm left some 3 million Texans with out energy. At the moment, the Federal Vitality Regulatory Fee issued suggestions that may sound awfully acquainted to Texans: Energy crops and pure gasoline producers did not adequately weatherize.
But weatherization didn’t occur after that warning.
When Winter Storm Uri arrived and about 4.5 million Texans misplaced energy, the preliminary reactions of a few of Texas’ most distinguished leaders solely appeared to make the scenario extra frigid.
Gov. Greg Abbott went on nationwide TV and initially falsely blamed the outages on the Inexperienced New Deal and renewable vitality. Sen. Ted Cruz sought to heat up in Cancún. Former Gov. and Vitality Secretary Rick Perry claimed, “Texans can be with out electrical energy for longer than three days to maintain the federal authorities out of their enterprise.”
From there, the Legislature responded by passing zero payments requiring services to manage. In the meantime, CPS Vitality ratepayers, together with those that went with out energy, shall be paying a $1.26 month-to-month cost for the following 25 years to pay for $418 million in storm-related bills.
And, after all, consultants proceed to insist on the necessity for grid reform.
Now, it’s true the Texas grid survived the latest stress take a look at throughout this month’s freeze. However contemplate just a few factors: First, Texans shouldn’t need to marvel if the grid will operate throughout a freeze. Second, this most up-to-date storm wasn’t almost on par with Winter Storm Uri.
“Possibly Uri is a stage 5 take a look at and that is stage three, and this exhibits we will go stage three,” Caitlin Smith, an ERCOT skilled and a senior director at Jupiter Energy, advised the Texas Tribune.
That is echoed in an evaluation from the Electrical Reliability Council of Texas, which says:
“Assuming that the ERCOT Area experiences typical winter grid circumstances, ERCOT anticipates that there shall be ample put in producing capability out there to serve the system-wide forecasted peak demand for the upcoming winter season, December 2021-February 2022. The forecasted peak demand is 62,001 MW and is predicated on the typical climate circumstances on the time of the winter peak demand. As a part of our aggressive grid administration planning, now we have additionally included extra low-probability, high-impact eventualities.”
In different phrases, the latest storm was typical, however Uri was not. It was very a lot a low-probability, high-impact storm. And the ERCOT evaluation goes on to indicate that 4 out of 5 excessive climate eventualities might result in outages.
It stays an open query as as to if the Texas grid can really deal with this sort of excessive chilly climate, which, after all, is precisely why lawmakers ought to be prioritizing reforms.
There isn’t any cause for Texas to be so caught off guard. Grid reform is the easiest way to recollect Winter Storm Uri.
Houston Chronicle. February 20, 2022.
Editorial: Rice College is correct to maneuver its namesake
On a spring day in 1958, Philip Johnson had Frank Lloyd Wright over for a cocktail occasion at his well-known glass home in New Canaan, Conn. A photographer later recalled the assembly of the 2 nice twentieth century architects. Apparently, in the midst of lecturing the opposite friends on the historical past of structure from caves to skyscrapers, Wright acquired as much as refresh his glass of scotch and likewise took the freedom to maneuver a sculpture from the middle of the room over to the facet.
When Wright resumed his discuss, Johnson acquired up and put the statue again within the heart of the room. As soon as Wright realized this he blew up, saying, “Philip, depart excellent symmetry to God!”
This month, Rice College lastly caught up with Wright and determined to maneuver the statue of William Marsh Rice, its namesake and founding benefactor, over to the facet inside the primary quadrangle. For 91 years, the bronze statue has sat atop almost eight ft of pink Texas granite and Rice’s cremated stays. It occupies the center of the central quad the place the primary paths intersect — proper on the level of symmetry.
William Marsh Rice, nevertheless, was removed from infallible. He was a person from Massachusetts who moved to Houston in 1838 and made a fortune. He enslaved at the very least 15 individuals and laid out in his bequest an institute for “white inhabitants.” That establishment is rightly struggling to reconcile its towering achievements with its racist origins.
Its determination to relocate the statue, reasonably than to take away it as many college students and others have demanded, is the appropriate selection for now and navigates the competing currents in our ongoing tradition wars.
One facet needs to tear down all monuments which have any affiliation with slavery. One other facet says we should always not “cancel” or “erase” historical past. Others name for brand spanking new statues and monuments that mirror a extra numerous time in America or credit score contributions lengthy missed in normal histories. At Rice, scholar Shifa Rahman led day by day protests for months calling for everlasting elimination of the statue whereas former Secretary of State James Baker, for whom the Baker Institute is called, advised attendees at a Heritage Society luncheon that he opposed elimination of Rice’s statue and “None of these children would have an schooling with out him.”
The college’s plan ought to be greater than a compromise. It ought to invite not simply the Rice group however your complete metropolis right into a dialog about our tough historical past — a dialog that’s uncomfortable and that may make us extra free. If the plan is executed effectively, the end result is also a campus that’s extra lovely and extra very important.
But when the plan is to have lasting worth, Rice should go far past merely relocating a statue. Rice should proceed to make use of the controversy over the statue as an impetus to do long-neglected analysis on their very own entanglement with slavery.
It started that work in 2019, when Rice introduced a job power on slavery, segregation and racial injustice chaired by two of its foremost historians, Alexander X. Byrd and Caleb McDaniel. The group organized 11 panel discussions, 23 webinars and hosted a analysis collective that unearthed major paperwork. It discovered that Rice not solely enslaved individuals, he performed an energetic position in recapturing those that tried to flee and that he constructed his fortune, partly, by financing plantations that used slave labor. It additionally discovered the motivation behind commissioning and putting in the statue was to honor Rice’s philanthropy. The speeches on the dedication didn’t point out or glorify the Confederacy, although additionally they maintained silence on slavery, Jim Crow segregation and the exclusion of Black individuals from the college.
Final June, the duty power really useful that Rice make a “daring change.” On the finish of final month, the board of trustees introduced the plan to relocate the statue throughout the quad with historic context together with his possession of enslaved individuals as a part of a redesign of your complete quad with a brand new monument of comparable prominence commemorating the start of the college’s integration within the Nineteen Sixties, effectively after many main faculties.
Byrd, who grew up within the Northside and graduated from Jack Yates Excessive College, advised the editorial board, “I’m hopeful that one thing highly effective will end result.” McDaniel advised us that the quadrangle receives guests from across the state and from world wide. The brand new design ought to higher educate all guests in regards to the significance of slavery within the historical past of Texas and the origins of Houston.
Statues erected after the Civil Warfare to glorify those that fought to defend slavery, or to rejoice a distorted view of our historical past, have rightly been eliminated throughout America. Rice’s statue falls into one other class. He was celebrated merely as a result of he based an awesome college.