AUSTIN — Amid a slew of threats to our state’s power grid, state lawmakers have taken action to protect against at least one of them—hostile countries.
After receiving the state legislature’s approval, the “Lone Star Infrastructure Protection Act” will now head to the governor’s desk to be signed into law. The Act states that Texas businesses and government officials are not allowed to make infrastructure agreements with certain foreign countries, nor give them control or direct or remote access to any of the state’s core systems.
“Critical infrastructure” includes the power grid, water treatment or chemical facilities, communication systems, and cyber networks.
According to the new law, Texans may not make such contracts with businesses or government officials from “China, Iran, North Korea, Russia, or a country designated [by the Texas governor as a threat to critical infrastructure].”
“Access to critical infrastructure within the State of Texas should not be open to companies owned and controlled by the governments of aggressor nations,” wrote the bill’s author, State Sen. Donna Campbell (R–New Braunfels). “Do not be deceived by the claims that these companies are not entirely controlled by their governments. They most certainly are.”
“The protection of critical infrastructure is vital to the protection of military capabilities, United States national security, safety of Texans, and the operation of the Texas economy,” she continued.
The issue has recently received national attention, after Sun Guangxin—a former Chinese military officer with ties to the country’s communist party—bought over 130,000 acres in southwest Texas to develop a wind farm in a location that has very little wind and is right next to Laughlin Air Force base—the largest air force pilot training base in the nation.
Sun’s company wanted to construct unusually tall 700-foot wind turbines where the Air Force base conducts training missions, and would have also plugged into the state’s power grid—raising concerns that the company could seize potentially compromising energy information and updates, as well as control to potentially manipulate or attack the state’s energy supply.
The new law will stop the project.
“The federal government is not stepping up to the plate to make sure that our country is secure,” Sen. Campbell told The Washington Free Beacon. “This was happening right under our nose.”
“We can’t allow hostile nations to get a foothold in our critical infrastructure.”
After Gov. Greg Abbott’s signature, the new law will take effect immediately.