George P. Bush, Republican candidate for land commissioner, opened the 2014 Texas Tribune Festival on Friday by discussing his stance on a wide-range of issues impacting the state.
At the talk held at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center, moderator Evan Smith asked Bush, the grandson of presidents George H.W. Bush and nephew of George W. Bush, if the magnetic pull of his surname drew him into politics.
“I would describe it more as a desire to serve others,” Bush said. “Always think about others before you think about yourself. Not all Bushes are in politics — there are 18 grandchildren, and I’m the only one crazy enough to enter the arena.”
After being introduced by President William Powers Jr., Bush said his skill sets would help him fill the role of land commissioner successfully. He spoke about his hope for the future of Texas energy.
“You look at the potential for a generation to be truly energy secure,” Bush said. “When I was graduating from UT-Austin, we were importing two-thirds of our petroleum products. Now we’re at a quarter. Within ten years, we’ll only need Canadian and Mexican [products] to power our needs.”
Bush, who is a businessman and former history teacher, said he also wants to push water conservation. According to Bush, brackish water has potential for the Texan economy.
“In terms of water conservation, there’s a lot we can do,” Bush said. “[Water] is a 22 billion problem we will face for the next 20 years. Brackish water can be used in fracking for industrial purposes. We have enough to cover the state with four feet of brackish water.”
Smith, the Tribune's CEO and editor-in-chief, then shifted the conversation to issues that Bush has firm stances on. Bush said he supports the state law allowing undocumented students to receive in-state tuition at public universities.
Bush also said he is not sold on the true cause of global warming.
“What we can agree is, over the course of human history, is that there are climatic changing,” Bush said. “The bigger debate is if its man-made. We need to depoliticize the debate and allow scientists to make a definitive call and look at it through a long-term lens. I have to deal with the immediate needs on the gulf coast, and that’s where I have the most impact.”
When audience member Charlie Bonner, a Plan II and government freshman, asked how Bush viewed the politicization of textbooks, Bush said he would give curriculum authority to local government and school boards.
Bonner said he was not impressed with his answer.
“I actually just thought of the question when he said was a teacher and and member of the Republican party,” Bonner said. “His answer jumped around the issue by putting it back in the hands of locals, which could still lead to the political winds of the teachers and communities. I’m not sure he actually solved any problem with that question.”