Of the two candidates remaining in the Texas Senate District 27 primary race, only one is opposed to the proposed Port of Brownsville LNG export terminals. Sara Stapleton Barrera recognizes the danger the massive industrial facilities pose to the local economy and community health, while incumbent Senator Eddie Lucio Jr. has accepted campaign contributions from an LNG company and frequently expressed his support for the projects.
The communities nearest the terminal sites have all passed resolutions against LNG development, but Lucio has sent at least three letters to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in favorof Texas LNGand Annova LNG. Regarding community concerns about LNG, Lucio told the Rio Grande Guardianin 2018 that “Many of the issues are federal and not state. There are some things we can do in the State of Texas where we have power, but there are other issues that are federal. I have indicated to them that this issue (is for the congressmen), to the federal senators, to the president and not to us.” Annova LNG’s parent company Exelon clearly feels that Lucio is not without power, however, because they have donateda total of $10,000 to his 2020 campaign.
Stapleton Barrera has made environmental issues a key part of her platform. Lucio’s LNG ties, on the other hand, are part of a larger pattern; he has spent the last thirty years in office accepting thousands of dollars in campaign money from the fossil fuel industry and voting for damaging legislation that favors polluters over people. In his most recent campaign finance report, Lucio registered donationsfrom the likes of Exxon Mobil, Valero, and the pipeline company Energy Transfer Partners. Lucio has also received money from individuals with connections to the industry like Janet Duncan, whose husband founded the multi-billion dollar oil and gas company Enterprise Product Partners, and Reed Morian, whose DX Group sells chemicals to frackers and refiners.
Among Democrats in the Texas Senate, Lucio consistently ranks in the bottom two on environmental issues. In 2015, he co-authored the Senate version of HB 40, which pre-empted local regulations to give the state exclusive jurisdiction over oil and gas operations. Notable votes include a 2017 nod to appointpipeline magnate Kelcy Warren to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, SB 1045that reduced opportunities for public input on air pollution permits, and HB 2771that directed the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to seek authority from the EPA to discharge oil and gas wastewater into Texas waters.
Eddie Lucio Jr. long ago stopped representing his constituents. His campaign donor list reads like a who’s who of special interests and lobbyists from Houston, Dallas, and Austin. The Rio Grande Valley deserves a fresh voice to fight for clean air, water, and land and the preservation of our unique ecosystems for future generations. Save RGV from LNG supports Sara Stapleton Barrera for Texas Senate District 27, as she is unequivocally opposed to LNG in the RGV. She understands that LNG will only add to the climate change set to affect our area. “I want to address climate change with more solar farms and wind energy,” she says. That kind of development can bring jobs and tax revenue just like LNG, but without the harmful pollution and climate-changing carbon emissions.
The runoff election between Sara Stapleton Barrera and Eddie Lucio Jr. presents a clear choice between a new, responsive candidate and an incumbent beholden to the oil and gas industry. Despite dire climate change predictions for our state, Texas continues to pursue ever more oil and gas production, including a massive build-out of infrastructure that might bring dirty, unsafe LNG export terminals to the Rio Grande Valley. Many Texans suffer from health and environmental problems because of the fossil fuel industry. The money Lucio accepts from the energy sector and the support he provides for industry-backed legislation perpetuates that suffering and obstructs the complete transition to 100% renewable energy required to lower greenhouse gas emissions. We need uncompromised public servants like Sara Stapleton Barrera to oppose polluting industries and address the climate emergency.
Early voting begins July 6 and election day is July 14.