On February 8, 2021, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush announced the formation of the Texas Defense Task Force, designed “to identify federal overreach and to fend off threats to the Texas oil and gas economy.” The Task Force will operate within the GLO to pose legal challenges to federal policies which threaten the industry.
The announcement is a direct response to the actions of the newly elected Biden administration. According to the Federal Register (1), since taking office, President Biden has issued 37 executive orders, 25 proclamations, and 20 other presidential documents. These measures include halting construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, rejoining the Paris Climate Accord, and pausing new leases for oil and gas drilling on federal lands. (2) Recent analysis prepared for the American Petroleum Institute projects that the Texas job market could suffer significant losses over the next several years as a result of the federal moratorium on leasing and development on federal lands alone. This outlook is concerning for an industry which has suffered several recent blows, including an historic price collapse in early 2020.
The Commissioner’s announcement emphasized the GLO’s constitutional duty to protect and defend public land in Texas. The revenue generated from the minerals underlying these lands contributes to funding for the state’s public schools, police force and infrastructure. Commissioner Bush indicated that the Texas Defense Task Force would “aggressively pursue every legal avenue” to combat executive orders which threaten the job security of Texans and the state’s economy at large.
The Task Force was formed less than two weeks after Texas Governor Greg Abbot issued Executive Order GA-33. The order directs state agencies to identify all lawful means of preventing federal overreach and to employ all such means against “any federal action that threatens the continued strength, vitality, and independence of the energy industry.”
The Texas Defense Task Force will work with private entities to accomplish its goals.
Kuiper Law Firm has reached out to the GLO for additional details and will update this post upon receipt of new information.
- Information is current as of April 5, 2021.
- The Consequences of a Leasing and Development Ban on Federal Lands and Waters, (September 2020), prepared for the American Petroleum Institute, by OnLocation, Inc.