Abbott Restricts Natural Gas Flowing Out Of Texas As State Struggles Under Freezing Temps

Texas Governor Greg Abbott barred natural gas suppliers from shipping fuel out of state without first offering it for sale in-state on Wednesday.

Abbott announced the new order during a press conference on Wednesday as his state continues to suffer from an energy shortage amid widespread freezing temperatures. The order is set to last through Feb. 21, according to Bloomberg.

“I hereby mandate that all sourced natural gas be made available for sale to local power generation opportunities before leaving the state of Texas, effective through February 21, 2021,” Abbott said in a letter to the Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates the state’s oil and gas industry. “I ask that you immediately take all reasonable and necessary steps to ensure that this mandate is carried out.”

Critics alleged that Abbot’s order violates the commerce clause of the Constitution, which bars states from interfering in inter-state trade. Abbott said he had the authority to take such a sweeping step because of the state of emergency he declared on Feb. 12.

Texas and surrounding states are experiencing the coldest weather many have seen in decades. The cold snap has had a massive impact on energy production in the state, freezing gas lines and wind turbines. Millions of Texans were left without power temporarily as ERCOT, which manages the Texas energy grid, instituted rolling blackouts to conserve energy.

Abbott announced on Thursday that power had been returned to most homes in Texas. He added that 325,000 homes and businesses are still without power because of downed power lines and other issues related to grid connectivity.

On Monday, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who served as Energy Secretary in the Trump administration, blamed Texas’ poor handling of the cold snap on too much of a policy emphasis on building wind farms.

“So the point is, you need to have a diversity of energy sources no matter where you are,” Perry said on Fox News. “And [there] couldn’t be a greater example of that in the state of Texas right now. We got massive amount of wind farms out in West Texas that are frozen up, they’re just like a propeller on an airplane. They froze up last night, no wind out there. All of that wind energy was lost.”

“It’s incredibly important to have a diverse, I think you had a number of things that lined up for the perfect storm, if you will. But the point is, that’s what those of us in government are supposed to do — we’re supposed to try to look over the horizon, see the things that are the challenges,” he added. “Having a diverse base load of energy is incredibly important. We started taking coal plants off; we started taking nuclear plants off. And if this country is going to continue to grow … to be competitive in the world, we’ve got to have an energy supply that is diverse, a base load that you know when you call on it, it’s going to be there.”

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