In 2009, Texas Governor Rick Perry threatened to secede in response to the first African-American taking his rightful place in the White House. Perry was whining about President Obama’s policies. Of course, Texas is still in the Union and Perry totally backed down and hasn’t made a move toward secession since. But another top Republican in the state has.
Texas Railroad Commissioner and candidate for state Attorney General Barry Smitherman is dead serious about helping his state actually secede from the Union and become an independent nation. For years, he’s been building the state’s energy infrastructure so that it could operate on it’s own without the federal government.
In an interview with World Net Daily, Smitherman openly advocated for Texas seceding.
“One of the things I’ve focused on in the last 10 years of my public sector life is preparing Texas to be a prosperous and safe place to work, regardless of what happens outside our borders,” he said.
“We are uniquely situated because we have energy resources, fossil and otherwise, and our own independent electrical grid. Generally speaking, we have made great progress in becoming an independent nation, an ‘island nation’ if you will, and I think we want to continue down that path so that if the rest of the country falls apart, Texas can operate as a stand-alone entity with energy, food, water and roads as if we were a closed-loop system.”
Smitherman said he feels Texas officials must do what they can to prepare the state.
“This was one of my goals at the Utility Commission and it is one my goals currently as chairman of the Railroad Commission. That’s why I stress so vehemently oil and gas production, permitting turnaround times, and everything that enables the industry to produce as much as it can, as quickly as it can,” he said.”
Whether a state can secede or not has already been settled. The Union victory in the Civil War ended efforts by Texas and other Southern states to secede and form a separate country in the 1860s. 600,000 Americans died as a result of Southern secession. Additionally, the Supreme Court ruled in Texas v. White in 1869 that the Constitution does not permit states to unilaterally secede from the United States. Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase wrote the majority decision stating,
“When, therefore, Texas became one of the United States, she entered into an indissoluble relation. All the obligations of perpetual union, and all the guaranties of republican government in the Union, attached at once to the State. The act which consummated her admission into the Union was something more than a compact; it was the incorporation of a new member into the political body. And it was final. The union between Texas and the other States was as complete, as perpetual, and as indissoluble as the union between the original States. There was no place for reconsideration or revocation, except through revolution or through consent of the States.”
In short, Texas seceding from the Union would be an illegal act unless it has permission from the rest of the country or goes to war against the United States. Considering that it would take a true act of stupidity for Texas to challenge the military might of the United States, I’m certain they would rather choose option number one.
Furthermore, though Texas is not quite a welfare state like other red states, it does take in quite a bit of taxpayer dollars. Tens of billions of dollars, as a matter of fact. So, whenever Rick Perry or any other Texas Republican whines about government spending, it’s hilarious because Texas apparently has no problem taking federal cash for itself.
Texas Democratic state Rep. Garnet Coleman has served in that capacity since 1991, so if anyone has an idea about whether Texas can survive without the rest of the United States, he can. Back in 2011, he commented on his state taking so much federal cash despite Perry’s whining about federal spending.
“The only word that can describe this is hypocrisy,” Garnet said. “These days federal dollars might as well be counterfeit, they are so dirty — but Texas would not survive without them.”
There are other reasons why Texas wouldn’t survive secession. Due to their inability to collect taxes and the destruction of roads by heavy oil trucks resulting from the energy boom, the state government has decided to turn 80 miles of paved highways into 30 mile per hour dirt roads. So even if Texas’ energy sector is great, it’s transportation system very much isn’t.
However, Texas’ energy boom may be great right now, but it won’t always be. Oil and natural gas are not infinite energy sources. They will eventually run out. But while it’s arguable when that will occur, a bigger problem for Texas right now is its water insecurity which can be blamed, in large part, to the state’s energy boom. According to The Guardian http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/aug/11/texas-tragedy-ample-oil-no-water,
“Three years of drought, decades of overuse and now the oil industry’s outsize demands on water for fracking are running down reservoirs and underground aquifers. And climate change is making things worse.
In Texas alone, about 30 communities could run out of water by the end of the year, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
Nearly 15 million people are living under some form of water rationing, barred from freely sprinkling their lawns or refilling their swimming pools.”
Texas may be oil rich but they traded water for it. Last time I checked, people need water more than they need oil to survive. You can’t drink oil unless you have a death wish. And climate change just makes Texas’ water situation worse. The state has been in a drought since 2010 and wildfires have burned it to a crisp. Not only does the drought affect water supplies, it affects other industries as well. According to ThinkProgress,
“The heat and lack of precipitation has hit the state’s rice farmers and beef production industries especially hard. On top of that, Texas just lost a Supreme Court fight with Oklahoma over water rights, and has allocated $5 million for another water-based legal dispute with New Mexico. All told, the drought is costing Texas something on the level of 115,000 jobs and $11.9 billion in losses to its economy every year the dryness continues.”
Even the oil industry will struggle without water, which it needs for hydraulic fracturing or fracking. That process for getting natural gas out of the ground is itself a threat to the water supply because of the poisonous chemicals the oil industry uses to extract the gas. An entire water supply could be poisoned and thus rendered useless for drinking. Without water, Texas would be unable to grow and raise its own food. In a few short years after secession, Texas could very well end up being one of those third world nations that America air drops food and water supplies to on a regular basis.
Droughts, wildfires, destruction of paved roads, severe water insecurity, and the associated agricultural shortages are severe threats to the state’s future survival. Businesses are certain to avoid a state that has so many serious problems, especially when those problems include water shortages and transportation issues. And if Texas secedes, they wouldn’t be using American currency anymore and it wouldn’t be backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government. In other words, it would be significantly devalued. And as an independent nation, Texas would no longer have representatives in Congress to ask for disaster aid, which Rick Perry has literally been begging for in the wake of devastating fires.
Sure, Texas could secede, but it would make the disaster the state faces even worse. Who in their right mind feels comfortable living in a place where water is scarce? What’s more likely to happen is Texans fleeing the state in droves to states that have a more stable water supply. Texans are tough people but even they can die from dehydration. And businesses, while they may enjoy Texas’ lack of regulations, won’t be too keen to stick around if the workforce/consumers are leaving the state just to survive. Businesses would therefore have to do the same. Like it or not, Texas has to have federal dollars to do many things, and their tax policy just will not bring in enough revenue to replace what the federal government currently provides. That means less money for everything, including businesses. Texas may be forced to raise taxes and enforce collection to make ends meet, thus taking away that awesome advantage Texas has when it wants to attract new businesses to move in. Another thing to consider is the fact that millions of women and minorities would face even more threats to their rights if Texas were to abandon the Constitution. Women would likely be subject to even harsher laws regulating their bodies and minorities would face even worse suppression and racism. And both groups would be totally helpless to appeal for federal protection. Democrats may also leave the state in droves to escape the impending harshness of Republican rule that would make it absolutely impossible for them to win political office. It’s already difficult for Democrats to win in the state, just imagine how hard it would be if Texas secedes. So, it’s not exactly a stretch to say that people would leave Texas because of those reasons as well.
Clearly, Texas Republicans have not thought this whole secession thing through. The state may have a strong energy sector for now, but it takes more than an energy infrastructure to make a nation, and Texas needs to figure that out now before it’s too late. It was crazy the last time Texas seceded, it would be even crazier to do it a second time.