Protecting the Texas coast will be his priority during the 2017 legislative session, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush said during a keynote address at the Energy Thought Summit in Austin on Tuesday.
"More than 7.1 million people, of the 28 million that reside in our state, live in a coastal area," Bush said. "One quarter of the nation's refining capacity also resides in the Houston Ship Channel – not to mention the tens of thousands of jobs in the fourth-largest metropolitan area in our country. So protecting these assets among our people and our community should be a national security priority of the highest order."
Bush cited the potential devastation Hurricane Ike could have caused in Houston in 2008 if the storm had not shifted off course and said, "It's time to take action and move forward on this important issue for our state."
The General Land Office, which Bush oversees, has already taken steps to secure the coast, Bush said. The office has partnered with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to develop a long-term plan to address problems in the Houston Ship Channel and the Corpus Christi area in order to "ensure that Texans receive fair treatment following tropical storms and hurricanes."
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Bush also highlighted a recent effort by his office to remove abandoned structures on recreational beaches and on the shoreline after an audit from his office revealed about 2,000 such structures in the Gulf Coast area.