To Senators John Cornyn & Ted Cruz and Congressmen Kevin Brady, Bill Flores & Louie Gohmert regarding the high-speed rail project.
Dear Senators & Congressmen,
I would like to begin by thanking each of you for the service to the areas that we jointly represent, and to the State of Texas as a whole. In recent years, the general welfare of the state has improved tremendously, and that is due in large part to your committed leadership as a member of the influential Texas delegation in Washington.
Today, I write to you regarding recent proposals from the White House centered around options for future transportation initiatives. Specifically, I hope you will oppose any effort to spend federal dollars on a high-speed rail project in Texas, as well as demonstrating your opposition to any movement to allow a high-speed rail project the authority of eminent domain.
During the previous legislative session in Austin, I was the House Sponsor of Senate Bill 977 which prevents the State of Texas from using any public resources for the planning, construction, maintenance, security, promotion, or operation of a high-speed rail project operated by a private entity. The bill passed both chambers by an overwhelming margin and was signed by Governor Abbott shortly thereafter.
Members of the Texas Legislature, along with Governor Abbott, have clearly recognized that no high-speed rail project in the world is able to operate and maintain service without a significant subsidy from taxpayers. For that reason, members of both parties came together to ensure that Texas would not be in the business of bailing out a private high-speed rail entity like many other states have made the mistake of doing.
In addition, you may be aware of the recent Draft Environmental Impact Study from the Federal Railroad Administration that was released on the issue of this same subject. While there is currently a public comment period taking place, I have also asked the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to hold separate meetings with my office, and other stakeholders, to discuss the potential detrimental effects of this project’s potential construction. Much of the directly impacted areas, some of which you all represent, are rural and used for agricultural and timber purposes, so any changes to the watershed or water sources could negatively affect the productivity and longevity of these operations.
While a rapidly growing state such as Texas is in need of access to new, innovative models for transportation, it is the belief of many Texans that the current high-speed rail project tramples on private property rights, destroys the livelihoods of thousands of individuals and families, and on balance, just doesn’t make good long-term sense for our great state. I thank you all for your service, and for your daily commitment to ensuring Texas is a better place today than it was yesterday.