Senator Cornyn

Energy & Environment

We need more energy. Government should get out of the way, let the free market work, and allow more domestic energy production. This would reduce gas prices even in the near-term, expand job opportunities in Texas — a world energy leader — and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

Senator Cornyn is an ardent proponent of maximizing Texas’ and America’s energy resource potential as a comprehensive approach for our nation. In the Senate, he has supported efforts to encourage conservation while increasing the responsible production of domestic sources of fossil fuels, and exploring alternative sources to make our nation more energy secure. 

Texas is the nation’s leading producer of oil and natural gas, and Texas refineries make up over 30 percent of the nation’s refinery capacity. Texas is also a trailblazer in renewable energy, including wind, solar, and biomass, and our state leads the nation in wind-powered electricity generation capacity. The energy industry is creating millions of American jobs and helping fuel economic growth. Senator Cornyn knows that the keys to supporting our robust energy sector include creating a competitive tax and policy environment, providing for a trained workforce, and ensuring sensible regulation.

Senator Cornyn supports environmental policies that ensure economic viability while protecting public health. However, he opposes efforts by federal agencies to expand their regulatory reach beyond their legal authority. Senator Cornyn believes environmental regulations should be based on the best available science and risk-based standards.

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Senator Cornyn supports policies that maximize America’s energy potential, enhance our energy security, and minimize burdensome government regulations

  • Introduced the Grid Resilience Innovation and Development (GRID) Act, which directs the U.S. Department of Energy to research how quantum applications and computing can make the U.S. electric grid more resilient, secure, and efficient.
  • Authored the bipartisan SAVE Jobs Act to provide relief to America’s energy industry during the coronavirus pandemic, promoting liquidity and flexibility for domestic energy companies so they could maintain their workforce through the economic downturn.
  • Advocated for Texas energy workers and small to midsize producers during the coronavirus pandemic and its associated economic downturn by supporting bipartisan legislation to provide $3 billion to purchase crude oil produced in the United States for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
  • Led a bill to allow critical infrastructure project proponents to continue relying on the nationwide permit (NWP) program in response to court decisions causing blockages.
  • Supported lifting the crude oil export ban.
  • Advocated for a modernized North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to expand energy exports, maximize domestic energy production, and promote North American energy independence.
  • Cosponsored the Federal Land Freedom Act to establish programs to lease, permit, and regulate the development of all forms of energy resources on federal lands, including renewables.
  • Cosponsored the Fracturing Regulations are Effective in State Hands Act to provide states with the authority to promulgate or enforce any regulation or permit regarding hydraulic fracturing on or under any land within their boundaries.
  • Cosponsored the Transparency and Honesty in Energy Regulations Act to ensure the EPA, Dept. of Interior, and the Dept. of Transportation only regulate what is mandated by Congress.
  • Cosponsored the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act to modernize the federal licensing process for nuclear reactor facilities.
  • Supported passage of the Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act to promote North American energy security and create American jobs.
  • Cosponsored the LNG Permitting Certainty & Transparency Act requiring the Department of Energy to approve or disapprove of applications to export LNG in a timely manner. This would enhance our national security interests while continuing to grow our economy at home.
  • Cosponsored the Offshore Energy and Jobs Act to open up the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) leasing plan, lift the revenue sharing cap for gulf states, including Texas, under the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA), and provide regulatory relief for oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Founded the bipartisan Texas Caucus on Shale Oil & Gas to serve as an educational resource for Members of Congress focusing on shale oil and gas production in Texas.

Senator Cornyn has worked to ensure environmental policies are based on the best available science and risk-based standards.

Senator Cornyn opposes government efforts to expand regulatory reach beyond its legal authority. This is especially true of policies like the Green New Deal, which would be prohibitively expensive and force the U.S. to rely on foreign energy sources. Instead of the Green New Deal, Senator Cornyn believes in following the Texas model of innovation by encouraging the private sector to develop clean, affordable solutions.

Federal agencies continuously reach beyond their regulatory authorities. For example, the EPA has sought to expand its limited federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act to regulate ditches, streams, and wetlands not in proximity to “navigable” waterways, ignoring two U.S. Supreme Court decisions. The EPA also sought to unlawfully regulate carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants, and sought to limit new plants through requiring standards that are not commercially demonstrated today. Fortunately, the Trump Administration repealed these overreaching regulations and proposed new regulations to clarify federal authority under the Clean Water Act and provide existing power plants with achievable standards for reducing emissions. 

Senator Cornyn has worked to hold regulatory agencies accountable. When agencies discount real-world data or fail to follow due process, they needlessly destroy jobs and threaten whole industries, increasing economic uncertainty and hampering job creation.

  • Sponsored the LEADING Act, now law, to incentivize research and development of carbon capture technology for natural gas to ensure a reliable, affordable, and environmentally sound energy supply.
  • Cosponsored the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act to update and modernize the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) which hadn’t been updated since 1976. This law preserved an important balance between federal and state authority to ensure transparency, while giving manufacturers and consumers the regulatory certainty they deserve.
  • Cosponsored the Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act to require Congress to approve every new major rule proposed by the Executive Branch before it can be enforced. Given the scope and magnitude of the EPA’s regulations and their impact on the economy, it is essential that the regulatory process remain transparent and accountable.
  • Cosponsored the Ozone Standards Implementation Act to allow states to pursue cost-effective and practical implementation of the EPA’s ozone standards.
  • Cosponsored the Clean Air, Strong Economies Act to prohibit the EPA from lowering the National Ambient Air Quality Standard until 85 percent of counties currently in nonattainment are compliant with the existing standard. 
  • Senator Cornyn is dedicated to ensuring Texans have reliable supplies of water and adequate infrastructure. After Hurricane Harvey, Senator Cornyn was instrumental in securing $36.5 billion in additional supplemental disaster relief funds to help Texans recover and rebuild.
  • Authored the Texas Coastal Spine Authorization Act, now law, to authorize the Coastal Texas Study for hurricane and storm damage reduction and ecosystem restoration.
  • Sponsored the Coastal Texas Protection Act to require the Secretary of the Army to expedite the completion of feasibility studies and reports regarding the Coastal Barrier Protection System.
  • Sponsored the COAST Act to help accelerate completion of the Coastal Texas Study by preventing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from duplicating efforts during the study phase and streamlining authorization of the resulting project. 
  • Sponsored the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act to provide funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers water infrastructure and ecosystem restoration projects.
  • Led the Hydrogen Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act to create a pilot financing program to provide grants and flexible, low-interest loans for retrofitted or new hydrogen transport infrastructure, storage projects, and refueling stations.
  • Led the Hydrogen for Ports Act to establish a grant program to support hydrogen-fueled equipment at ports and in shipping applications.
  • Sponsored the Hydrogen for Industry Act to establish a grant program to support commercial-scale demonstration projects for end-use industrial applications of hydrogen, including in the production of steel, cement, glass, and chemicals.

Senator Cornyn believes the best way to promote the long-term health of endangered species and the communities where they reside is through the involvement of local stakeholders.

Senator Cornyn believes proposals to list species as endangered or threatened must be based on sound science and should not be used as a political tool to block job creation and economic development. Unfortunately, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is increasingly being abused by groups to petition for the listing of species and to file costly lawsuits. Senator Cornyn has been working to keep the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) responsive to Texans’ concerns with regard to endangered species issues and the negative consequences unnecessary listings have on economic development.

  • Introduced an infrastructure streamlining bill to amend the Endangered Species Act of 1973 to establish a program to allow States to assume certain Federal responsibilities under that Act with respect to agency actions applicable to highway projects within the States.
  • Introduced the Endangered Species Act (ESA) Settlement Reform Act to give states, counties, and affected local parties a voice in the closed-door settlement process of ESA litigation between special interest groups and the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).
  • Introduced the 21st Century Endangered Species Transparency Act to encourage transparency in the Fish and Wildlife Service’s listing processes, by requiring data used in the process to be made publicly available.

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