Texas governor vows to fight U.S. curbs on oil and gas activity

FILE PHOTO: Oct 20, 2020; Arlington, Texas, USA; Texas governor Greg Abbott looks on while in attendance for game one of the 2020 World Series between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Globe Life Field. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

ODESSA, Texas (Reuters) - The top elected official of the largest U.S. oil and gas producing state on Thursday pledged to fight President Joe Biden’s executive orders that he claimed would undercut Texas energy production.

In a case of dueling executive orders, Texas Governor Greg Abbott authorized state agencies to bring legal challenges Biden’s policies. Biden on Wednesday unveiled a series of actions to combat climate change, including pausing new oil and gas leases on federal land and cutting fossil fuel subsidies.

“When it comes to threats to your jobs, you have a governor who has your back,” he told workers at an oilfield service firm where he signed his order. “Texas will protect the oil and gas industry from any type of hostile attack from Washington,” he said.

State agencies should identify opportunities to sue the federal government where they find federal overreach, said Abbott who as the state’s attorney general sued the federal government 31 times.

Cities in Texas also would be prohibited from banning natural gas appliances under state bill he plans to file, Abbott added.

Texas produced 41% of U.S. crude oil and 25% of natural gas, according to the Energy Information Administration. The state lost about 60,000 energy jobs between February and August 2020, according to an energy lobby group.

Reporting by Brad Brooks; writing by Gary McWilliams; Editing by Marguerita Choy