The Fuse

Energy Policy 2016: Spotlight on Texas Senator Ted Cruz

by R. Kress | February 19, 2016

Status: Declared candidacy on March 23, 2015

Party: Republican / Tea Party

Career Overview: Ted Cruz became the first-ever Hispanic or Cuban-American to hold the office of U.S. Senator from Texas when he was sworn in back in 2013. He has also been the Solicitor General of Texas and a domestic policy advisor to George W. Bush.

Senate voting record on energy:

  • YES: Approve the Keystone XL Pipeline (1/15)
  • NO: Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014 that would have, among other things, allocated $2 billion to mass transit solutions (7/14)
  • YES: Transportation Empowerment Act which would have cut gas taxes and pushed states to put more money into highway projects. Cruz co-sponsored this bill. (7/14)
  • Introduced the American Energy Renaissance Act of 2015

The Energy Renaissance Act: In March, Cruz introduced the American Energy Renaissance Act. The bill aims to open federal land and resources to private sector oil and gas development in a bid to create jobs and innovate a way out of dependence on foreign oil. Other key takeaways from the bill help forecast where Cruz will stand on energy issues come 2016:

  • Leave fracking regulations up to individual states
  • Approve the Keystone XL pipeline and clear the political playing field to allow others like it in the future
  • End greenhouse gas regulation by the EPA and federal government
  • Expand oil exploration both on land (in Alaska and on Indian lands) as well as offshore (including the Outer Continental Shelf)

Energy Policy in 2016: At a summit for conservative leaders in February, Cruz gave voters a very-detailed preview of what to expect from his campaign’s energy policy—and it aligns very closely with the provisions he included in the American Energy Renaissance Act. In his speech at the summit, he called for the federal government to step out of the way of American ingenuity, and to let the innovators get to work: “Here we stand at the edge of an energy revolution that is sweeping the nation, providing an untold number of new opportunities and well-paying jobs…. There is only one thing that will stop us from embracing [the energy revolution] to its full potential: The federal government.” Here are some key takeaways from Cruz’s plan:

Breaking Tradition on Ethanol: Cruz is the first candidate to win the in 20 years to win the Iowa caucuses who hasn’t supported the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), commonly known as the ethanol mandate. “When it comes to the RFS,” Cruz continues, “I have supported phasing out the RFS over five years. There’s no oil or gas subsidies, there’s no solar subsidies, there’s no wind subsidies.”

Keystone XL: Cruz called on President Obama to stop his opposition to the pipeline. Cruz, as he also outlined in his American Energy Renaissance Act, is pushing for broader permissions for similar pipelines and trans-border energy initiatives. Cruz even took to humor to try and make his point that he sees the Keystone pipeline as a “green” solution: “If you are a Birkenstock-wearing, tree-hugging Greenpeace activist you should love the Keystone pipeline.” His reasoning: it would be safer to transport oil via the pipeline than by tanker or train where a spill would be more likely.

Fracking: Cruz says, leave it up to the states. Cruz has even taken to Facebook to drum up support for fracking: “Further proof that fracking is a safe practice that fuels U.S. jobs and economic growth,” he posted, linking to a CBS News article on fracking and water pollution. “LIKE if you agree the federal government should stop stifling this boon to growth!”

EPA: Minimize EPA regulatory power which he’s said “threatens hundreds of jobs” by declaring war particularly on the coal industry. As sitting chair of the Subcommittee on Science and Space of the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Cruz has taken both the EPA and the narrative of climate change to task: “The EPA has adopted greenhouse gas regulations on the basis of scientific assumptions that have been totally undermined by the latest science.”

Energy development: Open federal lands and offshore areas to private sector oil and gas developers. Use additional revenues to pay off the national debt.

Black gold, Texas tea: Cruz’s campaign and PAC have already received more than $1 million from the oil and gas industry—that’s more than any of his presumptive rivals have received so far from oil and gas. Cruz also is significantly invested in oil: His financial disclosure records show that the Cruz family bought more than $115,000 of combined stock in Chevron, ExxonMobil and another crude oil and natural gas transportation company.