By José Medina
Texans, there is an election coming up on Nov. 7.
Off-year elections don’t get much attention. But, in Texas, the Legislature meets for its regular session at the start of odd-numbered years. And it usually means lawmakers place some questions on the ballot for Texas voters to decide.
Public Citizen encourages you to vote NO on Proposition 7 and Yes on Proposition 14 in this upcoming election.
Why We’re a NO on Proposition 7: Builds New Gas Plants Without Any Benefits to the Grid
When the Legislature gathered in January, a top issue was electric grid security, which Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick sought to address with a package of bills that wouldn’t do much anytime soon.
Patrick’s original plan was to have taxpayers pay to build and renovate fracked gas power plants to boost generating capacity on the state’s shaky electric grid. At a cost estimated at $18 billion to state taxpayers, the proposal stalled, and a smaller compromise plan took its place.
Enter the Texas Energy Fund.
If approved, Prop. 7 would create the fund at a cost of $10 billion. As opposed to the original Patrick-backed plan that would have paid corporations to build the plants, the Texas Energy Fund would offer zero-interest loans to do the same and a generous bonus when the construction is finished. The state would offer very low-interest loans for renovations for operators of existing gas plants.
The smaller plan, like its bigger brother, is misguided. Here are some of the reasons why Public Citizen is urging a NO on Proposition 7:
- There are cheaper, quicker ways to secure the grid. You can’t just snap your fingers and instantly get a new power plant. These big facilities are expensive and take years to build, even if they stay on schedule. The grid needs stability now. Our next extreme winter storm that would cause demand to spike could be a few months away. But if we dodge that cold bullet this year, there’s no escaping the heat in a Texas summer every year. The grid destabilizes when demand outpaces supply, and Proposition 7 is an expensive measure that entirely ignores demand. We have other tools, including energy efficiency and demand response programs, which can be implemented almost immediately and for far less cash than Prop 7 proposes.
- Offering rock-bottom interest or no-interest loans for corporations to build a power plant they’ll use to sell energy back to you is a raw deal. Prop 7 only benefits those same corporations, not you. And, of course, fossil fuel interests get profits while you get no peace of mind about the grid anytime soon. Incidentally, do you know what was the primary culprit behind the power outages during Winter Storm Uri? Yep, failed fracked gas infrastructure took down existing gas power plants.
- It’s a subsidy. Despite the industry’s record profits in recent years, lawmakers continue to give Bil Oil too many breaks and advantages. The industry will gladly take taxpayer money, but it doesn’t need it.
Why We’re a Yes on Proposition 14: State Parks are Awesome
With Proposition 14, state lawmakers seek to spend $1 billion on something that can improve all Texans’ health and quality of life. How’s that for a refreshing change?
If voters approve Proposition 14, it would create the Centennial Park Conservation Fund. The $1 billion in the fund would be used to buy land to incorporate into the state park’s system, which turns 100 this year (hence the fund’s name).
Supporting Prop 14 is an easy call. Texas is vast, and expanding its park system will allow even more Texans to enjoy the natural beauty of this state.
The funding is needed, too. According to Environment Texas, the state isn’t taking full advantage of its bigness. The group’s 2022 report placed Texas at 35th in the country for state park acreage per capita. We have enough land to do much better.
Early voting begins Oct. 23 and ends Nov. 3. During the early voting period, you can vote at any polling place in your home county. Or you can vote on election day, Nov. 7. Polls will open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. Anyone in line by 7 pm will get to vote.
As always, check with your county elections office for the most up-to-date information that’s specific to where you live.
Turnout for these kinds of elections is usually low. Be sure to do your part by casting a ballot. And don’t forget, bring an ID!