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The Brief: Texas energy faces unknown future under Trump presidency

President-elect Donald Trump's mixed messages on the campaign trail have left Texas energy industry confused but hopeful.

A wind farm outside Lorraine, Texas, on Aug. 10, 2006.

Tribune Today

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The Big Story

President-elect Donald Trump's win on Tuesday was cheered by the Texas oil and gas industry and lamented by environmentalists. However, energy experts and renewable energy groups say his victory may not be a complete win or total loss for either industry given Trump’s lack of detailed policy proposals. Here's what we know so far: 

• The main priority of Trump’s energy plan is to help revive the coal industry, whose biggest competitor is natural gas — and Texas is the nation’s top natural gas producer. Removing some regulations put forth by Obama's Clean Power Plan in protecting coal would be bad for natural gas. 

•  Trump has criticized wind power for killing birds and railed against renewable energy subsidies. However, Blaine Bull, a spokesman for the Texas Clean Energy Coalition, said that even if Trump doesn't renew subsidies when they expire in a few years, it may not matter much for wind since it's expected to be fairly profitable by then. And following Trump's victory, The American Wind Energy Association issued a statement saying it was “ready to work with President-elect Donald Trump and his administration to ensure that wind power continues to be a vibrant part of the U.S. economy.” 

•  Trump's proposed border wall could spell trouble for Texas' natural gas business. Texas sells millions of dollars' worth of natural gas to Mexico every year, and Mexico is looking to expand its own energy production.“Oil and gas companies have been pushing for open markets for decades,” Michael Webber, deputy director of the Energy Institute at the University of Texas at Austin, said. “The wall is a step in the other direction.” 

•  However, some say it's almost impossible to know what to expect because of Trump’s personality and the many mixed messages he espoused on the campaign trail. “One week he says 'Drill, baby, drill,' and then the next week he says, 'Well, you know, I think local voters ought to decide whether they want drilling in their communities,'” said Austin lawyer Michael Nasi, who represents power generators who rely on coal. “So it’s like, 'Alright, where he’s going to be?' He may pleasantly surprise those who are interested in clean energy."

#TxLege Today 

House budget writers have a couple of hearings planned today, including one on ethics laws (10 a.m., E2.014 Hearing Room) and another on the fiscal impact of the state for the Law Enforcement and Custodial Officer Supplemental Retirement Fund (1 p.m., E2.028 Hearing Room). See the full committee schedule.

What We're Reading

(Links below lead to outside websites; content might be behind paywall)

For Dallas Democrat, win in Texas House race "bittersweet" (audio), KERA

Trump's win not enough to quell Texit movement's secessionist urges, The Dallas Morning News

Donald Trump’s victory exposes deepening rural-urban Texas divide, Austin American-Statesman 

Former Baylor coach Art Briles, others reportedly told of woman's claim she was gang-raped, Houston Chronicle

Paxton to shift from litigation to lobbying, Houston Chronicle

Today in TribTalk

"With a Trump presidency and Republican Congress committed to securing the border, the question must be asked: Why should the Texas Legislature be in the border security business at all?"

— Ted Delisi, Republican political consultant 

"For years, the president and his liberal counterparts dismissed Obamacare's disappointments as minor hiccups that could be easily fixed, scoffing at Republicans who warned that these mounting failures reflected flaws deep at the law's core. But as time goes on, its negative outcomes are continuing to expose themselves, becoming increasingly drastic each year."

— John Ratcliffe, U.S. Representative (R-Texas)

Trib Events for the Calendar

•   A Conversation with state Reps. Andrew Murr and Jason Isaac on Nov. 14 at Schreiner University in Kerrville

•   A Symposium Previewing the 85th Legislature on Nov. 29 at The University of Texas - Texas Union Ballroom

•   A Conversation with Michael K. Young, President of Texas A&M University on Dec. 1 at The Austin Club

•   San Antonio & the Legislature: A Preview of the 85th on Dec. 2 at University of Texas at San Antonio – Downtown Campus

•   A Conversation with Sen.-elect Dawn Buckingham & Rep.-elect Hugh Shine on Dec. 8 at Temple College – Arnold Student Union

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