Ted Cruz vs. Beto O’Rourke – Where do the two Texas senate candidates stand on energy and environmental policy?

We’re bearing down on the final days before the polls close and Texans choose their next senator. Still, we’ve been wondering – where do Rep. Beto O’Rourke and Sen. Ted Cruz stand when it comes to energy and environmental policy?

As we’ve mentioned before, it can be really hard to figure out exactly where candidates stand on these issues – in part because so few Americans prioritize environmental and energy policy on their list of concerns. So for those who do wish to be informed on these issues, it’s important to seek out easy ways to find the answers. Vote Climate US PAC has created an excellent voter’s guide to better help you understand every House and Senate candidate’s voting record. We reviewed their rankings and did our best to find additional information from the candidates’ websites and debate statements to uncover the positions of the major Texas senate candidates. Here is how O’Rourke and Cruz stand when it comes to the issues:

Candidate Online Platforms

Sen. Ted Cruz

On his website, the incumbent senator cites a massive opportunity to create jobs and innovate during what he calls an  “energy revolution” as the centerpiece of his approach to energy policy. Cruz mentions his 2014 introduction of the American Energy Renaissance Act (AERA) – which he states aimed to “unleash the full potential of America’s energy resources and rein in regulations that stifle jobs and economic growth” – as his main energy policy proposal.

Some of his other policy stances include an increase in offshore drilling, an expansion of energy exports and more opportunities for hydraulic fracturing. He was in favor of the construction of the Keystone pipeline. Cruz would also like to see an expansion of energy development on private land. It’s clear from his online platform that his focus on the energy industry will be to reduce regulation, as he hopes it will create the best path to increase job creation and reduce the national debt.  

Rep. Beto O’Rourke

O’Rourke takes a much different approach. His online platform shows more focus on combating climate change, stating “it is crucial now more than ever that the U.S. and world leaders act urgently to address the issue.” The challenger favors strengthening the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to ensure what he believes will be proper climate research.

As far as policy, overall O’Rourke advocates for comprehensive energy reform that “optimizes the uses of current energy sources while incentivizing the innovation of new and renewable sources of energy.” He wants to rejoin the Paris Climate Accords, ensure the EPA can “exercise oversight of those harming the environment, particularly drilling, fracking, and pipeline construction” and enforce stronger land-use policies in Texas.

Where do the candidates stand on carbon fees?

Taxes on carbon emissions are often a popular topic of discussion by economists and climate scientists. And issuing a carbon tax is actually on the ballot in the state of Washington. So, when it comes to federal legislation, where do the Texas senate candidates stand on carbon fees?

Sen. Cruz

He’s opposed to any kind of carbon fee. According to Vote Climate, the incumbent senator is against issuing “an explicit fee for carbon dioxide emissions” having voted against an amendment that would’ve done so in his first term. Additionally, he voted for an amendment that “would have prohibited congress from passing a fee on carbon.”

Rep. O’Rourke

This one is much harder to define. On one hand, as a congressman, Beto O’Rourke has voted against two bills – one that would have “expressed the sense of Congress that a carbon tax would be detrimental to the United States economy” and another that would have required congressional approval for any kind of carbon tax. He also did not sign the “No Climate Tax” pledge presented by Americans for Prosperity.

On the other hand, Vote Climate couldn’t find any instances where O’Rourke explicitly advocated for a carbon tax. We couldn’t find one either in his debate statements.

How to go to the polls with the right information

While we would’ve enjoyed a more thorough debate on energy and environment issues in the Texas senate race, it’s clear these two candidates advocate for fundamentally different approaches to their policy initiatives in these areas. Understanding their  stances can be a critical decision before you go to the polls. We recommend seeking out more sources of information to learn even more about how these policies may impact your life.

As for your every day energy and environmental decisions, if you’d like to start reducing your carbon footprint, you can check out our  free, easy-to-use energy efficiency tools here.

Happy voting Texas!

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