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Texans introduce bill in Congress to strike down Biden’s natural gas tax | National

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www.thecentersquare.com – By Bethany Blankley | contributor – 2024-05-30 15:10:00

(The Center Square) – Two Texas Republicans have introduced companion legislation in Congress to strike down a natural gas tax proposed by the Biden administration.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz introduced a bill to prevent a newly proposed tax and eliminate a new methane emissions fee created in the Inflation Reduction Act. U.S. Rep. August Pfluger introduced the bill in the U.S. House of Representatives, which already passed. Both bills have multiple cosponsors.

Both Cruz and Pfluger represent the oil and gas capital of the U.S. Cruz, from Houston, and Pfluger, from west Texas, have been pushing back against Biden administration policies attempting to stifle domestic production as Texas continues to lead the U.S. in oil and natural gas production.

Last year was a record year for domestic natural gas consumption, with Texas producing the equivalent of one-third of natural gas consumed in 2023 and Texas producers breaking multiple records, The Center Square reported.

Cruz's bill repeals Section 136 of the Clean Air Act, which relates to a methane emissions and waste reduction incentive program for petroleum and natural gas systems.

While the Biden administration has blamed the U.S. oil and natural gas industry for skyrocketing energy costs, even blaming liquified natural gas (LNG) exports for them, U.S. Energy Information Agency data disproves the claim, The Center Square reported. A report by the Texas Oil & Gas Association pointing to EIA data shows that as LNG exports reached record highs, domestic natural gas prices decreased.

The real reason for increased energy costs, critics argue, are Biden administration policies, including over 200 actions taken against the U.S. oil and natural gas industry since January 2021, The Center Square reported.

“President Biden and Democrats have a plan for American energy: make it harder to produce and more expensive to purchase,” an Institute for Energy Research report states. “Since Mr. Biden took office, his administration and its allies have taken over 200 actions deliberately designed to make it harder to produce energy here in America.”

Earlier this year, 24 Senate Republicans blasted the administration's proposed $110 billion tax on the oil, natural gas and coal industry, saying they will drive costs up even more and hurt low income Americans the most.

In 2023, natural gas was the top energy source powering homes and businesses, according to the EIA, “the most on record.” Since 2018, domestic natural gas consumption increased by an average of 4% annually, according to EIA's analysis.

EIA also reported that last year, Texas' oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids (NGLs) production reached new highs.

This is after the U.S. became the world's largest LNG exporter in the first half of 2022, made possible by the Gulf states of Texas and Louisiana. Texas produced roughly a quarter of America's natural gas supply at the time, according to the EIA. The U.S. has been able to meet increasing natural gas demand from European and Asian countries “largely thanks to Texas energy production and export infrastructure,” Texans for Natural Gas reports.

Nineteen state attorneys general have also highlighted how natural gas is an essential source of energy that Americans rely on and is vital to national security, The Center Square reported.

Despite the policies of the Biden administration, the Texas legislature, Gov. Greg Abbott and Texas producers have helped stabilize the energy market, Ed Longanecker, president of Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners Association (TIPRO), told The Center Square. The Texas legislature prioritized legislation to encourage domestic production and Texas producers in the Permian Basin, the powerhouse of U.S. production, have also made strides in technological advancements leading to emissions reductions, The Center Square has reported.

From 2011 to 2021, methane emissions intensity in the Permian Basin fell by more than 76% as production increased by over 345%, The Center Square first reported. According to TNG's latest report, Permian Basin methane intensity fell by nearly 85% between 2011 and 2022, as new production records were also reached during the same time period.

“A strong supply of U.S. natural gas, largely supplied by Texas, has kept domestic energy markets stabilized as the power sector increases its natural gas demand and our LNG market grows,” Longanecker told The Center Square.

Recognizing the importance of the industry, nine Texas Democratic U.S. representatives earlier this year urged the president “to refocus on policies that support U.S. liquified natural gas (LNG) exports,” The Center Square reported. However, only a few voted for bills the U.S. House passed to expand and strengthen domestic production.

The bills were “an important step in pushing back against the anti-energy and anti-consumer Biden Administration and its war on U.S. domestic energy,” Karr Ingham, economist and president of Texas Alliance of Energy Producers, said. “It is critical for our industry, our nation, and the world to promote and expand abundant, affordable, and reliable petroleum energy production and support efforts to maintain our economy.”

The Democratic-led U.S. Senate has yet to consider them.

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The Center Square

Federal judge issues temporary injunction stopping Biden’s Title IX rules | National

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www.thecentersquare.com – By Steve Wilson | – 2024-06-13 17:00:00

(The Center Square) — A federal judge issued an injunction on Thursday that put a temporary hold on new Title IX rules issued by the Biden administration.

U.S. District Court Judge Terry Doughty issued the order in a lawsuit brought by the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana and Idaho. The injunction keeps the final rules from going into effect pending a review by the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Louisiana. 

The new rules finalized by the Department of Education and which are supposed to go into effect Aug. 1 expand the definition of sex discrimination to include gender identity and pregnancy, but the agency didn't issue any rules relating to transgender athletes. Among the changes include a prohibition on single-sex bathroom and locker rooms and requirements that a school use pronouns based on a student's preferred gender identity.

Doughty said in the order that the new rule violated the free speech and free exercise clauses of the First Amendment along with the spending clause and “is arbitrary and capricious.”

The judge also said in his ruling that for one of these injunctions to be issued, the plaintiffs must show a substantial chance of success on the merits of their case, a threat of irreparable harm that must outweigh any that would result if the injunction weren't issued and it must be in the public interest. Doughty said the plaintiffs did so successfully. 

Doughty also said that the plaintiffs were able to prove that the harassment standard created by the rule is contrary to Title IX and he said they “made compelling arguments for how it can violate the free speech right of the First Amendment.”

Louisiana Attorney General Liz Murrill, who brought the Title IX lawsuit, praised the ruling. 

“This a victory for women and girls,” Murrill said in a statement. “When Joe Biden forced his illegal and radical gender ideology on America, Louisiana said NO! Along with Idaho, Mississippi, and Montana, states are fighting back in defense of the law, the safety and prosperity of women and girls, and basic American values.”

Title IX prohibits educational institutions that receive federal funds from discriminating on the basis of sex in both educational programs and activities.

Federal courts have already acted against the Biden administration's rules. 

On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Reed O'Connor granted the state's motion for summary judgement in a case over a mandate issued by two federal agencies before the administration amended Title IX to redefine biological sex to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” 

He also denied the Biden administration's request to dismiss and vacated the guidance nationwide and issued a permanent injunction against its enforcement in Texas.

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Louisiana Supreme Court reverses decision on sex abuse law | Louisiana

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www.thecentersquare.com – By Steve Wilson | – 2024-06-13 14:19:00

(The Center Square) — The Louisiana Supreme Court overturned its previous decision that struck down a 2021 law that gives victims of sexual abuse more time to sue their alleged abusers.

The state's highest court handed down the ruling late Wednesday, which put back into effect the so-called “lookback window” law that passed the Legislature unanimously and was signed into law by then-Gov. John Bel Edwards in 2021. 

Under previous law, the victim had until age 18 to file suit against their alleged abuser. 

The Louisiana Supreme Court has reversed its previous decision which struck down the state's ‘lookback window' law, which passed unanimously through the legislature and was signed by the governor in 2021.

Attorney General Liz Murrill, who filed a rehearing application immediately after that decision was made by the justices to strike down the law, praised the ruling. 

“These child victims of sexual abuse deserve their day in court,” Murrill said in a news release. “This is a win for victims of sexual assault and those who have been silenced for far too long. A great day for Louisiana. It's very rare for the Supreme Court to grant rehearing and reverse itself.

“I'm grateful to the Court for giving such careful attention to an issue that is so deeply troubling and personal for so many victims of abuse.”

In a post to X, the author of the original legislation, Rep. Jason Hughes, D-New Orleans, also praised the decision.

“Today, the LA Supreme Court reversed its previous decision,” Hughes said. “Survivors of child sexual abuse will FINALLY get a chance at justice!”

In the original ruling, the justices had issues with the law due to its retroactive effect and its affect on due process. 

In a dissent, Associate Justice James Genovese wrote “This ruling on rehearing elevates a legislative act over a constitutional right and obliterates the vested right of accrued prescription, which has been precedent in our law for decades.”

He also stressed in his dissent that his opposition to the law was based on its legal ramifications and he was in no way condoning sexual abuse. 

He also wrote that “I am very concerned about this majority ruling on rehearing granting unbridled authority to the legislature to enact legislation which supersedes and tramples our constitution. I find such action to be a violation of the separation of powers doctrine. That is a slippery slope indeed.”

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Louisiana education board approves new accountability standards | Louisiana

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www.thecentersquare.com – By Jacob Mathews | – 2024-06-12 11:21:00

(The Center Square) — The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted unanimously to approve new accountability standards in schools during a meeting on Wednesday. 

Louisiana Superintendent of Education Cade Brumley said the accountability system was necessary for three reasons: To create higher expectations, to make the assessment process simpler and more transparent and to promote career and college readiness.

This agreement comes despite opposition from the Superintendents' Advisory Council during a hearing last week. Two speakers, retired educator Charles Michel and Dr. Lisa Morgan, the principal of LaGrange High School, pleaded against the standards in the LBESE hearing and echoed many of the issues the superintendents had. 

Higher expectations were the primary issue. Although superintendents approved of wanting more out of their students, the grading systems made several superintendents feel their schools would be listed as failing when in reality they were improving.

Despite the heated debate in last week's advisory council hearing and the resistance from outsiders in the LBESE hearing Wednesday, the unanimous vote came with no debate amongst the LBESE members. 

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