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.
This week, the Texas Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 2116, dubbed the “Lone Star Infrastructure Protection Act.” The proposed law 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 bill, 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, 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 and current member of the country’s communist party—bought 130,000 acres in southwest Texas, near Laughlin Air Force Base, to develop a wind farm.
Guangxin and his energy company now have access to the state’s power grid, which includes potentially compromising energy information and updates, as well as the control to potentially manipulate or attack the state’s energy supply.
“We cannot open the doors to hostile foreign interests who have an intent to harm and allow them to have a stake in Texas’ critical infrastructure,” said State Rep. Tan Parker (R–Flower Mound), who authored the Texas House’s companion version of the Senate law.
The Senate’s proposal is currently making its way through the legislative process and must pass a committee and the full House chamber to end up on the governor’s desk to be signed into law.
The State Legislature only has 32 days left in their legislative session. Concerned citizens may contact their state representatives.