Governor orders guard troops to border to assist feds

Ed Sterling

AUSTIN — On June 21, the day before President Trump called off a national sweep to find and detain undocumented non-citizens, Gov. Greg Abbott announced the deployment of 1,000 Texas National Guard troops to the Rio Grande.

Accompanied by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, House Speaker Dennis Bonnen and Adjutant General Tracy Norris in a state Capitol news conference, Abbott said the deployment would assist the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Patrol with the “escalating humanitarian crisis” at the Texas-Mexico border.

"In the past three weeks alone," Abbott said, "more than 45,000 individuals from 52 different countries have been apprehended illegally crossing the border into Texas. The crisis at our southern border is unlike anything we’ve witnessed before and has put an enormous strain on the existing resources we have in place.”

The federal government will pay for 100 percent of the costs associated with the short-term mission, according to a news release from the governor's office.

In the coming weeks, plans call for holding facilities to be established in the Rio Grande Valley and El Paso for single adults entering the country illegally. Texas National Guard troops will provide supplemental staffing support at the temporary holding facilities and supplemental enforcement support at ports of entry, Abbott said.

"Texas communities along the border and throughout the state are struggling to deal with this huge increase. Our health care system and schools are stretched to the breaking point, and cost increases on everything from temporary shelter and policing to street cleaning have been astronomical.  Governor Abbott, Speaker Bonnen and I are agreed that we must work with our federal partners and act now," Patrick said.

"As a longtime advocate for border security, I support today's announcement as yet another example of Texas stepping up and filling in the gaps where the federal government has fallen short," Bonnen said.

RRC elects new chairman

The three-member Texas Railroad Commission on June 17 elected Commissioner Wayne Christian as the energy-regulating agency's chair.

Christian succeeds fellow commissioner Christi Craddick in the role. Following the vote, Christian released a statement, saying: “Largely because of Texas, America has become the largest producer of oil and gas in the world, giving us not only energy security, but national security as well. 

“At the same time we have seen tremendous growth in the industry, we have seen great gains environmentally. From 1970 to 2017, the six major pollutants monitored by the EPA plunged by 73 percent, while the U.S. economy grew 262 percent and its population by 60 percent.

“As chairman, I look forward to continuing to ensure our agency provides a consistent, predictable regulatory environment that allows businesses to thrive and protects the public from bad actors,” said Christian. 

Texas prepares for hemp

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller on June 11 commented after Gov. Abbott signed House Bill 1325, legislation opening Texas to the commercial growing of hemp. 

Miller said the Texas Department of Agriculture would be working on the rules and guidelines for hemp production toward development of a plan to submit to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Under the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill, Miller said, the production of hemp was decriminalized and the federal government is working on regulations that all states must follow for hemp production. Texas, like many other states, had to first take steps to make it legal to grow, and now that has been done, he added.

Energy saving is urged

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality on June 17 posted a bulletin to inform Texans that up to 18 percent of a Lone Star State household’s energy usage is dedicated to cooling, higher than the national average of 12 percent.

Texas generates more electricity than any other state. Because approximately 64 percent of the state’s power is generated by natural gas and coal-burning plants, energy conservation helps keep the air clean by reducing emissions. Texans can take steps to reduce those emissions by reducing energy consumption.

The TCEQ's "Take Care of Texas" campaign recommends:

—Staying up to date with maintenance on air conditioning units;

—Routinely replacing air filters;

—Cleaning air conditioner coils and keeping debris and foliage away from an external condenser unit;

—Maintaining and repairing aluminum fins on coils; and

—Cleaning out condensation drains.