Abbott limits out-of-state natural gas shipments amid power shortages

Gov. Greg Abbott (R) limited out-of-state natural gas shipments as Texas struggles with severe winter weather, low temperatures and widespread power outages.

The Texas governor announced on Wednesday that natural gas would be restricted from leaving the state through Feb. 21 to allow for power generators to have enough gas to function. But Bloomberg News reported that the order would mandate gas be sold in Texas before becoming available across state lines. 

“I hereby mandate that all sourced natural gas be made available for sale to local power generation opportunities before leaving the state of Texas, effective through February 21, 2021,” Abbott said in a letter to the Texas Railroad Commission. “I ask that you immediately take all reasonable and necessary steps to ensure that this mandate is carried out.”

Abbott said that his disaster declaration, announced last week ahead of the winter storm, allows him to make such an order. But some experts disagree, according to Bloomberg, saying it violates the Constitution's commerce clause by hindering interstate trade. 

A representative for Abbott did not immediately return a request for comment on the constitutional arguments.

Texas Railroad Commission Chairman Christi Craddick said during an emergency meeting that the panel, which regulates the most energy in the state, would review Abbott’s order, Bloomberg noted. The commission approved to keep its own emergency order to conserve energy until Feb. 23. 

Texas has been pummeled by winter weather over the past few days, leading to millions of Texans being without power in freezing temperatures. 

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