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Federal judge pauses Biden’s partial liquefied natural gas export ban | National

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www.thecentersquare.com – By Dan McCaleb | – 2024-07-01 20:00:00

(The Center Square) – A federal judge on Monday temporarily blocked the Biden administration's ban on new exports of liquified natural gas exports to non-free trade agreement countries.

Judge James Cain Jr. of the Western District of Louisiana issued a preliminary injunction against the U.S. Department of Energy's partial LNG export ban after more than a dozen states sued, arguing the ban was illegal.

“It appears that the DOE's decision to halt the permit approval process for entities to export LNG to non-FTA countries is completely without reason or logic and is perhaps the epiphany of ideocracy,” Cain wrote in his ruling.

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The ban was put in place, according to the Biden administration, because the exports “no longer adequately account for considerations like potential energy cost increases for American consumers and manufacturers beyond current authorizations or the latest assessment of the impact of greenhouse gas emissions.”

After the Department of Energy announced the ban in January, 16 states filed suit, including Louisiana.

“This is great for Louisiana, our 16 state partners in this fight, and the entire country,” Louisiana Attorney General Liz Murrill said in a statement following the judge's decision. “As Judge Cain mentioned in his ruling, there is roughly $61 billion dollars of pending infrastructure at risk to our state from this illegal pause. LNG has an enormous and positive impact on Louisiana, supplying clean energy for the entire world, and providing good jobs here at home.”

Louisiana was joined by Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming in the lawsuit. 

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The Center Square

Patrick to criminals ambushing, killing officers: ‘the police will hunt you down’ | Texas

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www.thecentersquare.com – By Bethany Blankley | contributor – 2024-07-11 17:14:00

(The Center Square) – Acting Governor Dan Patrick told criminals if they ambush and kill police officers that the police “will hunt you down” as a manhunt is underway for an alleged murderer of a sheriff's deputy.

Patrick issued the warning at a conference in Houston on Thursday before giving an update on hurricane recovery efforts. Patrick is filling the role as acting governor while Gov. Greg Abbott is on an economic development tour in Asia.

The manhunt in Houston is for the alleged murder of a Harris County Sheriff's Office deputy who was ambushed and shot multiple times Wednesday night.

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Deputy Fernando Esqueda, 28, who'd been with the sheriff's office for five years, was a member of HCSO's Violent Person Task Force responsible for bringing to justice child rapists, homicide suspects, and other violent offenders.

On Wednesday night, deputies received a call about an aggravated assault at a Little Caesars Pizza in northwest Houston after the assailant became upset about his order and allegedly pistol-whipped an employee. HSCO deputies responded with investigators who were already out working a 12-hour shift on post-storm patrols. Although the assailant fled the scene, the employee was able to identify his vehicle make, model, and license plate. Law enforcement officials began a search for the vehicle, which Esqueda found. When he called in the vehicle, he was ambushed. His body was found riddled with bullets, police say.

“Whoever these animals were will be caught, prosecuted, and hopefully a judge or a jury will give them the punishment they deserve,” Patrick said. “In the midst of this storm recovery when so many people are suffering, when our police are working 12- and 16- hour shifts, to think that a bunch of animals go in and pistol whip someone behind the counter of a pizza shop because they didn't get their order right. They go out and apparently set an ambush … and gun down one of our brave heroes in his patrol vehicle will not stand. Will not,” he said, pounding the table.

Patrick warned “criminals in this city, in this county” that they “better be on notice. The police will hunt you down.”

At a press briefing on Tuesday, with Houston Mayor John Whitmire said the city needed more police “instantly.” Within hours, the head of the Texas Division of Emergency Management reached out to other police departments and reinforcements have already been coming to the city, Patrick said, including an additional 40 state troopers.

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“We'll send more if needed. We will send as many police as is needed to this community, to protect the community, to protect the property, and protect each other. It's just unacceptable,” he said.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez also issued several statements, including a picture of the alleged assailant, calling on the public for help.

In one post he said, “Urgent! Help us locate Ronnie Palmer (10-17-79). Palmer is wanted for an Aggravated Assault that occurred on July 10, 2024, at 15634 Wallisville in East Harris County. He is also a person of interest in the Capital Murder of a Harris County Sheriff's Deputy. If you have any info regarding his whereabouts, contact Houston Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS (8477).”

Patrick later said, “I apologize if I raised my voice too much in the beginning but I am just heartbroken for this officer who was killed and it's hard to move on from that.

“Since I've been lieutenant governor and Greg Abbott's been governor, we've lost over 50 officers in the line of duty. I've been to many of those funerals including in this area and every time we lose one there's a piece of all of us who dies with [the officer] because they're just people like you out there protecting us.”

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Abbott, Patrick and the Texas legislature, including Whitmire when he was a state senator for 40 years, have advanced measures to support the police.

In the last legislative session, Abbott signed several public safety bills into law that received bipartisan support to enhance penalties for some crimes, provide additional support to law enforcement personnel and local communities, The Center Square reported.

This is after the Texas legislature passed “Back the Blue” bills that Abbott signed into law in 2021, which included a measure that now ties municipalities that defund their police departments to losing tax revenue. The measure was passed after the Austin City Council defunded its police in 2020.

The city has still not recovered from the action with fewer police in the field and crime continuing to skyrocket. Abbott surged resources to Austin, including Texas Department of Public Safety officers who are still providing support to the Austin Police Department.

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The Center Square

U.S. House candidates in Texas differ on immigration, asylum | Texas

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www.thecentersquare.com – By Christopher Gerlacher | contributor – 2024-07-11 13:53:00

(The Center Square) – The candidates running to represent Texas' 15th Congressional District differ on the details of border security and immigration policy.

Both candidates say they consider the number of foreign nationals crossing the southern border unsustainable, but their approaches stand in contrast.

More than 12 million people have illegally crossed U.S. borders since fiscal 2021, after President Joe Biden took office. The number includes gotaways, those who illegally enter the U.S. between ports of entry, are spotted by surveillance but not apprehended.

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In May 2024, Border Patrol agents apprehended more than 241,000 people illegally entering the U.S. at both the southern and northern borders, The Center Square previously reported.

Republican incumbent Monica De La Cruz is focused on border security. Her campaign website lists a handful of border policies she supports. De La Cruz would “reinstate the Remain in Mexico policy” that former President Donald Trump put in place. She also is opposed to the “catch and release” policy under the Biden administration, releasing illegal border crossers into the U.S. while they await court dates that are sometimes scheduled years in the future.

The Remain in Mexico policy required migrants seeking asylum to remain in Mexico while their claims were being processed instead of being released in U.S. communities. President Joe Biden ended the program.

Catch and release is a policy under Biden where border officials apprehend a  foreign national and release them into the U.S. during the immigration process. The Biden administration says it's an attempt to relieve pressure on overcrowded detention centers.

Democratic challenger Michelle Vallejo acknowledges the need for border security but emphasizes the humanitarian side of illegal immigration. Her campaign website states:

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“Michelle is committed to securing our border while treating migrants with dignity and upholding their legal right to seek asylum. We must ensure our law enforcement agencies have what they need to end drug and human trafficking and protect their right to bargain for better working conditions.”

In an interview with the Texas Observer, Vallejo said the “chaos” at the border came from “bad policy, bad legislation, and harmful campaigning.” When asked to discuss what she meant by chaos, she said:

“When we have elected officials who come to the border to put on press conferences and then they put it on Fox with images of people coming across the border or whatever kind of images they want to portray, yes, that is the chaos: the fact that there are different narratives being spoken about when it comes to our home. And an opponent and a candidate like Monica De La Cruz exacerbates that.”

Vallejo also argues that “we need to invest in border infrastructure to ensure all ports of entry can handle the backlog of asylum seekers and refine our enforcement practices to become more conscious of humanitarian needs.”

She supports making the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) plan permanent through federal legislation. DACA is an immigration program deferring deportation for minors whose parents immigrated illegally. It also allows those young people to work in the United States.

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In an interview with MyRGV, De La Cruz said she “believe[d] that there should be legislation for DACA recipients,” though she didn't elaborate on the details of a permanent DACA proposal she would support.

De La Cruz also voted for the House version of the Secure the Border Act of 2023, HR2. It would increase funding for the Border Patrol and put in place tighter border security measures. It passed the Republican-controlled House 219-213 largely along party lines.

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Fourteen states back Arkansas in lawsuit over LEARNS Act | Iowa

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www.thecentersquare.com – By Kim Jarrett | – 2024-07-10 13:46:00

(The Center Square) – Arkansas is getting help from other states in its defense of an injunction that halted a portion of the LEARNS Act.

U.S. District Judge Lee Rudofsky issued a ruling in May that keeps Arkansas Education Secretary Jacob Oliva and the Department of Education from enforcing a portion of the law that requires a review of items “that may purposely or otherwise, promote teaching that would indoctrinate students with ideologies, such as Critical Race Theory, otherwise known as ‘CRT', that conflict with the principle of equal protection under the law or encourage students to discriminate against someone based on the individual's color, creed, race, ethnicity, sex, age, marital status, familial status, disability, religion, national origin, or any other characteristic protected by federal or state law.”

The injunction does not affect an executive order issued by Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders in January 2023 that bans the teaching of critical race theory in Arkansas schools, but Judge Rudofsky said the executive order and the section in question are similar.

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The state is appealing the ruling. Fourteen other attorneys general, led by Iowa's Brenna Bird, filed an amicus brief supporting Arkansas and questioning the reasoning behind the injunction.

“As a mom, I know how important it is that we create a healthy culture for our kids to learn and grow,” Bird said in a statement. “And most schools and teachers do an amazing job at that. But when education turns into indoctrination, parents have a right to push back.”

The brief, authored by Bird's office, said schools can ban some speech.

“For example, this Court held a school did not violate the First Amendment when it punished students for wearing shirts with the Confederate flag because it created an objectively harmful learning environment,” the attorneys general said in the brief. “This Court explained the shirts ‘subjected' '15 to 20 minority students' to extreme “racial tension from a white majority student and community population sufficient to motivate some to withdraw. Because ‘racial tension can devolve to violence suddenly,' the students created conditions that could “hardly be considered an environment conducive to educational excellence.”

The attorneys general said that ideologies such as CRT “openly encourage discrimination based on race.”

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The brief is also supported by attorneys general in Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.

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