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‘Aggressive’ hurricane forecast for Gulf Coast

by | Apr 17, 2024 | Opinion

Colorado State University researchers are calling this year’s hurricane season forecast “the most aggressive” ever, the Texas Standard reported. They say there is a 54% chance a hurricane will strike the Texas coast, and a 25% chance it will be major.

Justin Ballard, the Houston Chronicle’s newsroom meteorologist, told the Texas Standard that the last hurricane to make landfall was Nicholas in 2021. The last major hurricane to land was Harvey in 2017, which caused $125 billion worth of damage.

“These storms are becoming, yes, more common, more intense, but they’re also becoming more destructive with the amount of damage that they can cause just because things are more expensive,” Ballard said.

Ballard is urging Texas residents, especially those new to the coast who have never experienced a hurricane, to consider gradually stocking up on nonperishable items such as water and canned goods, rather than waiting until a hurricane threatens the Gulf of Mexico.


TPWD sued in attempt to block land swap with SpaceX

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is being sued in an attempt to block a land swap deal with SpaceX in South Texas, kut.org reported. TPWD in March approved pursuing an exchange of 43 acres of Boca Chica State Park to the company in exchange for nearly 500 acres of land that is now privately owned. SpaceX is negotiating to buy the land in order to make the swap with TPWD.

The South Texas Environmental Justice Network, the Carrizo/Comecrudo Tribe of Texas and Save RGV filed the lawsuit in a Travis County district court in early April.

SpaceX wants the land swap in order to expand its launch facility near the state park. The suit alleges TPWD violated statutory requirements to ensure mitigating harm to the land and considering alternatives to giving up park land.


Patrick lists legislative priorities for 2025 session

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has a to-do list of 57 items for senators in the next legislative session, The Texas Tribune reported, including improving housing affordability, fighting antisemitism on college campuses, and examining charitable bail organizations.

“Come January 2025, the Senate will hit the ground running at the start of the 89th Legislative Session,” Patrick said in a statement. “The priorities of the conservative majority of Texans will be accomplished, including school choice, continued property tax relief, and strengthening the power grid.”

Patrick said he wants his chamber to recommend how to “reduce regulatory barriers” and “strengthen property rights,” that could possibly reduce city land use and zoning rules.
He also wants the criminal justice committee to examine the practices of charitable bail organizations, which pay bonds to release defendants unable to do so on their own. Additionally, he wants senators to review university policies to ensure they prevent antisemitism while preserving free speech rights, The Tribune reported.


Law requiring voter registration in high schools ignored

Texas high schools are required to distribute voter registration forms to teens who turn 18 or are about to do so, but only about a fourth of schools are doing so, according to an estimate from the University of Houston’s Election Lab.

The law was passed in 1983, according to The Tribune, but many administrators are unaware of its existence. The state has about 409,000 18-year-old citizens, according to 2022 census data.

The secretary of state’s office, which was tasked with creating the instructions to implement the law, does not track compliance. Schools who fail to comply are not penalized.


State oil, gas production his record highs in 2023

The state set new records for oil and gas production last year, according to the Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates the industries and tallies production reports submitted by the state’s operators.

In 2023, the state produced 1.92 billion barrels of oil, eclipsing the record set in 2019 of 1.86 billion barrels. Gas production totaled 12.01 trillion cubic feet in 2023, breaking the previous record of 10.61 trillion cubic feet set in 2021.

“These production records are beyond impressive and reflect how Texas continues to provide reliable domestic production for the nation,” said Wei Wang, RRC executive director. “As the state’s oil and gas regulator, the RRC is committed to our critical mission supporting Texas’ economic growth that benefits Texans. Production taxes collected from the oil and gas industry pay for our schools, highways and the state’s Rainy Day Fund.”


Senate race will be expensive, reports indicate

Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Democratic challenger U.S. Rep. Colin Allred each raised more than $9 million in campaign contributions during the first quarter of 2024, the Austin American-Statesman reported. Cruz is seeking his third six-year term in the Senate, while Allred gave up a safe congressional seat to challenge him. He is in his third term in the House.

Both sides touted the fundraising results as proof of the strength of their respective campaigns. In 2018, Cruz raised about $50 million while defeating his Democratic opponent, former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke of El Paso, who raised $80 million.


Correction

An item last week regarding a legislative hearing on the recent Panhandle wildfires misidentified the committee chair. The special committee is chaired by Rep. Ken King, R-Canadian.

Enjoying this column? Want to read more like this? Subscribe to The Wylie News to support your local community newspaper.

Gary Borders | [email protected]

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