Many years ago, when I toiled in the oil patch, I lived in Houston, Texas for a couple of years. It was most enjoyable, especially the part about missing Canadian winters. And the city had the best eating I’ve every experienced: the confluence of three cuisines—seafood, barbecue and Mexican—all first rate, plus an assortment of others, including great Jewish deli.

I found the Texans generally lively and welcoming. I made some good friends. But there was also a certain amount of conservative craziness which left me cold. Such as the time a friend who was active in the civil rights movement told me someone had fired a shot into his house.

Some of that craziness has made headlines recently. Most newsworthy has been the state’s abortion laws. These have earned even greater attention since the leak of the U.S. Supreme Court’s position on Roe vs. Wade, the landmark decision that protected abortion rights. The new Texas laws effectively outlaw abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy.

Now the state has gone off the deep end protecting the oil industry. It has passed a law that boycotts financial companies that shun fossil fuels. During the debate of the bill, Representative Phil King said from the floor of the Texas legislature that the bill “sent a strong message to both Washington and Wall Street that if you boycott Texas energy, then Texas will boycott you.” Apparently, the state is having no small difficulty enforcing the law.

Nonetheless, as with its abortion laws, the precedent is growing. At least seven other states are now considering or have passed similar legislation.

(Fortunately, green investing is growing as well. According to the Global Fossil Fuel Divestment Commitment Database, from 2014 to 2022, the amount of investment divested from fossil fuels worldwide grew from $52-billion to $40-trillion.)

The Texas action would seem to imply that the state just profits from oil and the attendant greenhouse gasses are not their problem. But they are. Texas has been hit hard by disaster fuelled in part by global warming. In 2017 it suffered Hurricane Harvey. Typical of the effects of global warming, the storm carried exceptionally large amounts of water and moved dramatically slowly resulting in massive flooding. The economic cost was estimated at up to $108-billion, tied with Hurricane Katrina as the costliest tropical cyclone on record.

And then in 2021, the state suffered a huge power crisis as a result of three severe winter storms that swept across the U.S. one after the other throughout the month of February. The result was the worst energy infrastructure failure in Texas history with over 4.5 million homes and businesses left without power. The storms led to damages of at least $195-billion, the most expensive disaster in the state’s history.

The Texas economy depends heavily on oil, but the state is not immune to the rapidly increasing downside of its combustion. One might hope Texans would seek a little more sensible balance than attempting to prevent responsible firms from encouraging transition to a sustainable future.

But then I live in Alberta, so lack of a sensible balance between climate policy and oil production is no stranger to me.

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