March 26

The Energy Question: Episode 90 – Genevieve Collins, TX Director, Americans for Prosperity



The Energy Question: Episode 90 – Genevieve Collins, TX Director, Americans for Prosperity

When the transcript becomes available, we will include it here. -Thank you!

David Blackmon [00:00:00] And. Hey, welcome to the energy Question with David Blackmon. I’m your host, David Blackmon. And my special guest today is Genevieve Collins, the state director for Texas and Americans for prosperity. It’s been a year, Genevieve, since we talked last, which seems pretty incredible to me.

Genevieve Collins [00:00:28] It has been far too long, but you are busy and doing an amazing job with this whole thing and everyone’s already listening to you. So of course you’ve been busy and it’s been a year, but thrilled to be back.

David Blackmon [00:00:40] Well thank you, I really appreciate you taking the time. Well, we. Well, we talked a year ago. You were in the middle of the Texas legislative session, and I know y’all were working on several pretty big issues and had really good outcomes then. Yeah.

Genevieve Collins [00:00:54] We did, y’all. The Texas legislative session was a wild journey last year because we had, regular session goes from January through May 31st. And so for your listeners in Texas, we’re only in session once every two years. So we actually get a lot of work done in the super short amount of time. But it turns out that we didn’t get as much work done as we needed to. And so we went into four special sessions. Yeah. And well, AFP, what we were involved in is some really historic things. First, passing historic property tax relief to Texas citizens, giving back $18 billion of taxpayer money in the form of property tax relief to, to Texas homeowners and, and commercial landowners. In addition, we helped pass seven health care bills, really making sure that we can expand access while reducing the cost of health care and enforcing price transparency. And then we did some work on some housing bills, because if you didn’t know it, the new state crane in Texas is the or the new state bird in Texas is the crane. We got cranes building buildings everywhere. And so we need to make sure that we have housing supply and an affordable price for all these 1300 people moving to Texas every day. And lastly, we worked on School Choice, which did not pass this legislative session. But we’re still staying on it and working towards it in the next legislative session.

David Blackmon [00:02:32] 1300 a day.

Genevieve Collins [00:02:35] Move 13 Texas. Yes,

David Blackmon [00:02:39] That’s that number. I remember talking with, Lieutenant Governor David Duke Hearst about that about 12 years ago now. And it was 500 a day, and now it’s 1300 a day.

Genevieve Collins [00:02:50] Well, Texas is the land of opportunity. It’s prosperity, optimism, innovation. So why and good tax policy. So why wouldn’t want to people want to move here.

David Blackmon [00:03:02] Yeah. No, I, I totally agree. I’ve been here all my life. Yeah I mean I’ve seen a reason to move, so.

Genevieve Collins [00:03:08] Exactly.

David Blackmon [00:03:09] So, let’s, I mean, I should have done this first, but but just remind everyone what your mission at Texans for prosperity is. You know, obviously you’re an advocate on these big issues, but just talk about what you’re trying to achieve.

Genevieve Collins [00:03:24] So Americans for prosperity is the largest nonpartisan policy and grassroots organization, not only in Texas but across the country. I currently run 14 offices across the state of Texas. We have 26 full time staff, 60 part time staff, and last year we had 175,000 unique volunteers and activists join us in policy fights to improve the life of Texans. And what I would say, David, what people need to know is really that at AFP, we are the taxpayer champion. We don’t work on any social issues. We work on solely taxpayer issues. So we’re a bit of a generalist in the space of policy because we don’t specialize in one specific vertical more than another. But we really look at how do we how do we keep taxes low. How do we make sure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely on things that are needed? And how do we make sure that the government doesn’t have doesn’t think that our tax dollars are their money? But how do they realize that it’s our money that we are supporting?

David Blackmon [00:04:36] Well, no wonder this our government. And I’m not talking about our state government here in Texas, which, has been pretty wise where energy is concerned. But the federal government, no. Where does our federal government allocate tax dollars? More unwisely than in in the energy space. Particularly in this administration, I think I’ve made that pretty clear to everyone my views on that. You recently kicked off a new campaign called Unleashing American Energy with an event in Lake Jackson. You had Congressman Randy Weber there, who sits on the Energy and Commerce Committee in the House speaking at that event. Talk about what you’re trying to accomplish with this new campaign you’re running.

Genevieve Collins [00:05:22] Sure. So this is really exciting because I believe that when Texas is energy dominant, America is energy abundant, and that abundance not only helps the rest of our nation, but our allies abroad. And so when thinking about energy in Texas, we wanted to work with Congressman Randy Weber, kicking off our campaign because his congressional district really does impact the world. You know, 65% of LNG is exported from his district, and 65% of the strategic petroleum reserves are in his district are coming from his district. And so we really thought. About voice to the people of that community, because are one and two jobs basically are related to the energy sector in his congressional district. And we had over 50 people on a Thursday night in Lake Jackson. Full disclosure, I’d never been there. I didn’t even know where I was. But these are folks that are very invested in the energy sector and very attuned to what’s going on and very active about needing to reshape the narrative on energy in America and how basically energy is created, the Texas miracle. And that can be exported to other states.

David Blackmon [00:06:49] Yeah. And you talk about, the LNG exports. I’m sure of the congressman talked about that issue, put some emphasis on it. I, you know, did he talk about the permitting freeze, for example, that, the Biden administration recently put into effect?

Genevieve Collins [00:07:07] We spent a lot of time talking about the permitting freeze, and now I have to just set the stage for your listeners. This is a policy conversation for, like, an hour and 15 minutes. This is not like any fluff stuff. We get really meaty into the policy on what’s been happening. And and so he talked a lot about the, the ban that the Biden administration has done on LNG and how laborious the permitting process is, and how HB one or, excuse me, H.R. one that Congress passed last year really focused on how do we change the certainty? Date of permitting because it’s now taking, as all of you guys know, 5 to 7 years to get a permit. And at that point in time, you don’t even know if you’re going to get the permit. And so H.R. one really focused on saying, hey, how do we stop every single bureau having to approve this process? We should run this whole permitting process in parallel. And if it in two years it’s not permitted. It’s approved. It’s automatically approved. Now, the House passed that. But what he was sharing is that how difficult the permitting process is towards innovation, towards entrepreneurism, and towards his own district, who’s really supporting a lot of American companies and a lot of American interests in their in their district, with their businesses and how they can’t continue to thrive and create and create better jobs and better opportunities for all Americans. So we talked ad nauseum about the permitting process and the need for this massive reform, and how sad it is that the Biden administration is creating far more barriers than then creating more opportunities. And so. I meant more than anything. And the congressman really drove that that point home.

David Blackmon [00:09:08] Yeah. You know, that’s that’s a big part of the problem. I just so you know, I spent a long time and part of my career working those, permitting processes, you know, the Department of Interior and EPA and other federal agencies. And it’s so much of it is left up to the discretion of the agencies. And so when you get when you get a an administration that’s generally pro industry, it doesn’t take nearly as long to get those permits as it does an administration like this one that, you know, is trying to discriminate against industry. It’s such a unique thing that we’re seeing here. This administration is picking and choosing winners now. Right. And so it it’s becoming more difficult for oil and gas and nuclear and, you know, coal to get their permits, while at the same time, you know, they’re trying to make it easier and easier for wind and solar, although it’s not really working out for them. Right. But what can be done at the federal level? I think it’s apparent that Congress is pretty paralyzed at this point. I mean, absent a big sea change election, is there any real hope of getting any streamlining done at the federal level?

Genevieve Collins [00:10:27] I am an eternal optimist. And so my I would always say, yes, there’s got to be hope. I see. What’s been interesting is seeing how these wars that we have been that are going on in the world are now really hurting our strategic petroleum reserves. I think that that that is a really interesting, wake up call for a lot of our, members that may not have the same point of view as you and I on the free market, with oil and gas being an energy or being a huge opportunity and sector create sector driver. But, but I think more people are understanding that need for reform needs to happen and that nuclear is a really viable option. We talked about that with the congressman and that there’s it’s not only clean, it’s becoming really safe and it’s starting to become smaller. Yes. You know, and and I think that that is a real opportunity for innovation. But also, you know, how can we start building bridges between the fact that we’ve got conservationists and environmentalists and that those two people never want to see the same thing, even though they fundamentally believe in the same things. Right? And that that nuclear is a bridge to get to bring those folks together. You know, there are going to be people that are just going to say oil and gas, fossil fuel industry, coal should just go to hell. And that that it it’s a bad thing forever. I don’t share that perspective. And if he doesn’t necessarily share that perspective, we believe that it’s an all of the above solution. But I think that Congress and the Senate have to have more pro energy legislators. I’m just not sure that the Democrat Party is okay with being more like left of center on this policy, rather than on the far tail of the bell curve on the progressive side. The progressives really taken hold of the narrative. And I think that there’s a lot of room for Democrats to come back to the center, if you will, and you can meet a ton of moderates and right of center Republicans to really create some great policy. That’s the goal. That’s what we are working for and elections this year. But, you know, at the top, fundamentally, as you know, things have to change.

David Blackmon [00:12:59] Yeah. Well, we do have an opportunity here in Texas. Of course, we have the demonstration project out there, Abilene Christian, with the molten salt reactor there. They’re about to have a big kickoff event, later in March, for that project. And and, of course, that is a reactor the size of a refrigerator that can be located right in the market centers where the power is needed. You don’t have to build hundreds of miles of transmission. And, and, you know, hopefully the state can find ways to encourage a, you know, a pretty rapid build out of that kind of modular nuclear technology. And it seems to me Texas is pretty uniquely situated to be a real, innovation center for that part of the energy space.

Genevieve Collins [00:13:50] Well, that’s already happening. So good news there. Yeah. While the federal side may be just a quagmire, the state of Texas is really doing a lot. They’ve got. So we’re in the interim. We we will be in an interim session this year, which means our legislators really study the problems that they want to begin to solve in January of 2025. And there is a nuclear energy committee that’s going to be looking at how do we understand the entire ecosystem of our energy sector and see how do we resource and better learn about nuclear specifically? Not just oil and gas. Right. And and I think the congressman said it perfectly that renewables have a part to play in the, in the whole ecosystem. But they’re supporting actor role. They’re not the lead actor, as the congressman says. And we believe the same thing. You can have an all of the above solution to create a portfolio of abundance that is then exportable to anyone else that we want to sell it to. But it shouldn’t just be specific verticals when there are so many options on the table.

David Blackmon [00:15:04] So you know what? So much of the problem for nuclear is really just related to public bad public relations. I mean, they still haven’t overcome Three Mile Island, which was 45 years ago now. Yeah. How how can we help? And I know AFP plays a big role in this, helping these industries to overcome these PR obstacles because there’s such, such horribly erroneous information about nuclear in the public domain. And the media never tries to get it right. As far as I can tell. So one of the things you’re organization is really helpful in doing is it’s helping industries get past all that. Right?

Genevieve Collins [00:15:47] Yes it is. And so we are going on what I would call a roadshow tour with different members, both in the in Congress as well as in the state House, in the state Senate. And we’re going to be going on these kind of roadshows throughout the next 12 months talking to grassroots activists, answering questions, but bringing legislators in to hear from their communities, to hear from business leaders and to begin bridging those divides. I think so much misinformation has happened about nuclear and. Doesn’t help that TV is about Chernobyl and all of these, you know, accidents. Because they make good drama, right? But look, I know there’s still people’s lives. And, you know, we do a lot of things that don’t, regardless of your industry. One big mistake shouldn’t crater an entire industry you can point to. You know, the 2008 banking crisis. Should we, you know, no longer have banks? I mean, this is crazy. So we’re going to be going on an education campaign to around the state of Texas and really trying to meaningfully answer and more importantly, engage with people that have no real experience with nuclear or don’t have much experience with the entire ecosystem of all of the energy portfolio that Texas has, and really try to educate them and say, what do you think is going to be best? And why don’t you join us in the fight to create this sense of abundance? Because when Texas is energy dominant, America’s energy abundant.

David Blackmon [00:17:27] Yeah. Yeah. Well, so we’re recording this. It is the let’s see. We’re six days from the Texas primary as we were just, March 5th. I know you guys are advocating on behalf of some candidates, in these primaries. What’s your outlook on this election this year? We, you know, Texas has been a red state for a long time. It’s been, 30 years now since the Democrats elected a statewide candidate in Texas. Right. What, how is this election shaping up, in your view?

Genevieve Collins [00:17:59] So the primary on Super Tuesday is going to be really interesting, not necessarily at the presidential level, but at the state level. So there’s been a whole thing that’s gone on in the Republican Party this year where a lot I mean, I would say probably 60 state House candidates are being primaried. And that’s a lot that’s and they’re being primaried for two reasons. And I’ll go quickly here. But they’re being primary for two reasons. One bad school choice votes. So the governor has gone all in, as well as the lieutenant governor on passing school choice in the state of Texas. This has been a 40 year fight. And the this has been the last year was the closest that Texas ever got to passing school choice. Yeah. There were, 21 rural Republicans that voted with Democrats to basically kill the bill. So those folks, the five people of those 21 retired and 16 of those folks are being actively primaried with school choice candidates. We are engaged and AFP’s, engaged in a lot of those, in a lot of those races, because we think that every child should have a world class education, regardless of the four walls with which they are within. And our point of view quickly is that there’s is not a fight between public versus private school. This is a kind of like the energy sector. How do we identify all of the options available to a child to best meet their need? So so we have the school choice situation and then the other 45 candidates that are being primaried or because they voted to impeach are Attorney General Ken Paxton. And he’s going on what I guess the media calls his revenge tour. And so, and so there’s just a lot, sea change that could potentially happen here in Texas. AFP we are indoors. We’ve endorsed and are supporting 17 folks running for office, ten of which, excuse me, 11 of which are incumbents, three are challenger candidates and three are candidates filling open seats. And we really look at the entire platform energy, healthcare, taxes, property tax, education, public safety. That’s what we look at. We’re not just solely focused on school choice.

David Blackmon [00:20:32] Yeah. Well, I mean, there are no more important issues than those issues. One, national campaign we do have at stake here in Texas statewide campaign. Is Ted Cruz up for reelection? He seems very concerned about early polling in his race, and the fact that he’s likely to be overspent by at least a 3 to 1 margin. Kind of like when he ran against Beto O’Rourke. How concerned is IFP about that election?

Genevieve Collins [00:21:02] Yeah. So I ran. When I ran for Congress. I ran against Carl an already.

David Blackmon [00:21:07] And almost beat him. You can’t really close.

Genevieve Collins [00:21:09] I did, but honestly, thank God I didn’t make it because I would be in Congress right now. Oh my gosh. But that’s a topic for another day. So, you know, I think Ted Cruz has a real race. The problem. The problem is not money, Colin. I think he’s got 20 to 1 on his closest prime Democrat primary. Challenge. Yeah. So the problem is not going to be money. And we know that if Bella O’Rourke can spend $264 million. To lose three times. Money isn’t the issue. What will be? That’s just the truth.

David Blackmon [00:21:48] I think it’s the truth.

Genevieve Collins [00:21:50] But I think that it’s going to be a close race. I think that Ted Cruz will ultimately win, but he’s going to win by a very slim margin like he did in 2018. Probably 3 to 5 points. I think that Hispanic voters are changing their, their belief systems and really how they’re being treated by both parties, but they’ve historically been voting for Democrats. And you can see that in how South Texas really has has morphed. They’ve elected many Republicans, Republican mayor, Republican congressional members. And so that is a sea change that I think is going to keep evolving into a tidal wave by 2030 with more Hispanic voters, and more young Hispanic voters voting in the Republican Party. So I think that Ted Cruz ultimately wins, but it’s going to be a painful fall.

David Blackmon [00:22:47] Well, you know, a lot of that sea change in the Hispanic voter attitudes is driven by the illegal immigration situation at the border, right? Because, I mean, it’s those communities on the border that are hardest hit by all of this. And, you know, I, I, I will never understand why the Biden administration has created this crisis and allowed it to linger this long. It’s really tragic for those communities.

Genevieve Collins [00:23:11] Like I said, Michael and David. And over the last year, what we’ve been doing. And I need to invite you to be a part of our next one. We are hosting we’re hosting Border Tours, where we bring people in from all over the country, and we take them to Customs and Border Protection headquarters, where they get a briefing from the sector chief. What is really happening when it comes to illegal? Apprehensions encounters a fentanyl. Human smuggling, the dangers, the weather, the barrier structures that are needed. And they really kind of provide this overall understanding, what is really happening at the ground level? And then furthermore, you know, how little funding they have compared to what Congress can’t allocate, but we take them to, to, briefing, then we take them to actually the sea, the Rio Grand River, at a border area, at the water district for McAllen. I was there the first time when we did this. We’ve done five of these now, and we’re standing on the bank of the river of Texas. And on the other side is Mexico. And a gentleman came down and started blowing up his pontoon boat. And he looked at us like we were the morons, like, get the heck out of here. We’re coming over. And they’re right. And it was so blatant. And, and then we take people to see the humanitarian side of things, you know, from the Catholic Charities. And so it’s our, our goal is to create border evangelists that every state is really able. Get these folks regardless. And in your state, and we need to have a meaningful conversation, not just around border policy in general as a nation, not just in the Senate, or in the House, but really as a nation to understand how do we how do we secure our borders, how do we protect our laws? But how do we also recognize that there is an opportunity to be compassionate but also uphold our laws? And how do we thread that needle as a nation? And that’s the conversation we’re trying to spark. It’s like, no, we don’t believe in MSD. No, we don’t believe anyone should come here or that there should be loopholes in the asylum process. And that, yes, we need to secure our border. But there are real people that are having serious problems and serious threats, and they need to be treated seriously, not just through a course and open border.

David Blackmon [00:25:44] Right. You know, that’s the biggest problem is just at this point, they’re just waving everybody through without really knowing who they are, why they’re coming here. There’s no real due diligence being correct. It’s really disgusting, frankly. Last thing. I don’t want to leave before we touch on this. You’ve been writing columns in the New York Post, one of my favorite platforms, news platforms on the internet, and, also making appearances on Sirius XM as the ambassador for Texas, talking about why people should be moving from the blue states to the red states. Talk about what you’re doing there.

Genevieve Collins [00:26:20] I mean, David, let me be honest. I really just want to be the ambassador of Texas. So that’s the job that I really want. So maybe I’m trying to manifest this.

David Blackmon [00:26:31] But, you know, if if I can do anything to help in that. Yeah, I.

Genevieve Collins [00:26:35] Well, don’t worry. But, you know, it’s important to tell the story of Texas. So many people have a kind of myopic vision of Texas. They believe we all wear cowboy hats and still ride horses to our offices. Right? That’s your response hat? People have asked you that, but they also, the people are also moving here without an understanding of why. And my goal in writing, I’ve written two op eds for the New York Post, and one is really talking about the border crisis and what needs to happen. Mayor Eric Adams, he says, we can’t we can’t house these illegal immigrants, these migrants, anymore in these five star hotel rooms. It’s called. We’ve only had I think. So we’ve had 60,000 illegals come here and we can’t afford to resource them. And I said, well, what the heck are you talking about? Where Texas is absorbing millions of them. You think we have the resources? So it’s trying to call a spade a spade, and making more people know the reality. And the York Post has a, you know, it’s the fourth largest readership in the country. But then the other side of it is also how are we telling the story in the promise of Texas, that we are giving $18 billion back to taxpayers through property tax relief, that we are really trying to pass good policy? You know, some of the social issues, they’re the ones that spark all of this consternation and debate and get people fired up. But the reality is, is that Texas works, and more people need to know that because we are the model or can be the model for the rest of the country on good policy, low taxes, low cost of living, low regulations and great opportunities and access to capital. And that’s why people are moving here and that story just needs to be told.

David Blackmon [00:28:27] I can’t agree more. Genevieve, thank you so much for being here. Before we go, let everybody know where they can find you and support what you did.

Genevieve Collins [00:28:36] So find us on Twitter and please message us on Twitter because we are hosting our next Unleashing American Energy roundtable in Dallas on April 4th with. Pflueger, who also sits on the Energy and Commerce Committee. Message us on at Texas a FP that’s Texas, a FP like Americans for prosperity. And you can find me on Twitter at G Collins Tx. Please follow us, engage with us, and help us tell the story of why energy is so imperative and why this is a national security opportunity that we can solve.

David Blackmon [00:29:18] Hey, thank you for the shout out on Congressman Pfluger. He’s doing a great job out there representing the Permian Basin in West Texas, doing fabulous work in Washington, D.C.. I need to get him back on the show, too. It’s been six months since he was home.

Genevieve Collins [00:29:34] You’re just busy, David. You know, everyone wants to talk to you.

David Blackmon [00:29:38] I guess. Yeah, I hope so. Anyway. Hey. Thank you so much. You’re doing great work. You’re. You’re one of the most effective spokespeople I’ve ever seen. And, anything we can do to be helpful here at the energy question. All you have to do is get in touch and let us know.

Genevieve Collins [00:29:54] I will do, my friend. Thank you so much.

David Blackmon [00:29:57] And thank you to our great producer, Erick Parel and the sandstone Group for hosting our podcast. I’m David Blackmon. That is all for now.


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Americans for Prosperity, David Blackmon, energy question, Genevieve Collins, TX Director

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