Pervez Agwan is running for Congress in the Houston Metro, a deep blue district where no Republican can be competitive. Tragically, Republican-lite Democrats still are. Agwan’s opponent is a corporate-friendly New Dem who is a bad match for a district like TX-07, which goes from Fort Bend County to Mission Bend, Alief, Sharpstown, and Gulfton, then further east to Montrose and the Heights. It is now the most diverse congressional district in Texas, with nearly 550,000 residents from communities of color or of immigrant backgrounds. It is officially 72% non-anglo. We took a look at the district and at Agwan’s campaign earlier in the week. Never too soon to watch his launch video again though. It's just below.
His team is running a grassroots campaign that is not taking, in his own words, “a cent of corporate PAC dollars, a dime of fossil fuel dollars, or a penny of special interest dollars. We’re taking the fight to the oil and gas industry and their corporate funded politicians in the heart of Texas’ most diverse congressional district: TX-07.” His campaign needs our help to meet voters door to door, to be able to make phone calls in a district that is now nearly 75% black and brown communities, and to send mailers explaining to primary voters how it’s time for a change– in a district with nearly 70% new voters.
He told me forcefully and passionately that “we can no longer be OK with a representative taking special interests dollars while average everyday Americans are barely scraping by. Houston needs bold, innovative leadership to steer it through the climate crisis, and free its economy from the shackles of oil and gas corporations, and it is the honor and privilege of my life to serve my hometown of Houston in this mission.”
Today Blue America has endorsed Pervez for the TX-07 congressional seat and we humbly ask you to consider chipping in to his entirely grassroots campaign here. Please read his guest post below and try to visualize having him working on our agenda from inside the halls of Congress. We're not going to get to serious Climate amelioration until we elect more public officials whop believe in the urgency the way we do-- instead of blaise, self-serving careerists who gradually allow themselves to be corrupted by corporate contributions and friendly lobbyists. We can make a difference. The alternative is too ugly to contemplate.
If This Country Is To Progress, We’ve Got To Fight For Climate Action In The Heart Of Texas’ Oil Industry, And Demand A Turnaround
-by Pervez Agwan
Houston is home to many of the world’s largest oil and gas companies, and it is also where they park the money that’s deployed to tank the environmental agenda. I’ve spent the last few years of my life building the country’s largest wind and solar projects right here in the heart of Texas’ oil industry, and I’ve decided that enough is enough. I refuse to allow oil dollars, fracking cash, and pipeline companies to continue to destroy the inner workings of our democracy and continue to kill climate legislation. Their petro-dollars continue to pour into our elections to stall climate-focused legislation and now I’m determined punch back and take down one of the top-recipients of oil and gas dollars in the country in a now gerrymandered blue and heavily majority-minority district. I’ve seen the inside of crafting climate and renewables focused legislation and policy, and time and time again bills championing immediate climate action or pro-renewables policy fail to get out of committees when big oil’s lobbyists step in and when their corporate PACs funnel millions to establishment Democrats like TX-07 incumbent Lizzie Fletcher, who refuses to champion the bold, transformational policies needed to address the climate crisis head on. Our government should belong to us, THE PEOPLE, not big-oil or special interests that have taken the congress hostage with their dark money.
This isn’t just a fight against the oil and gas industry; it’s a fundamental fight to reform the way our Congress works, and to wrestle power away from for-profit interests that have essentially cornered us into an exploitative corporatocracy. The incumbent in the newly drawn district has taken millions of dollars from an assortment of the worst actors responsible for the egregious wealth inequality and systemic injustices our country suffers from: Health insurance giants, Wall Street banks, Pipeline companies, AIPAC, and telecom giants. If we’re going to change this country, and start pushing our government towards a more just, and equitable model, the fight starts right here in TX-07, Texas’ most diverse congressional district.
I actually started my career off as a young 22-year old in Texas’ oil and gas industry. In 2013, if you were an engineer, and attended a local university, you probably went to go work for big oil. My experiences on the ground quickly taught me that it definitely wasn’t what I wanted out of a career, and the polluting/hyper-industrial nature of fracking and drilling jobs rapidly showed me the crisis our environment, and planet face. At age 23, I left big oil and I have never looked back. I went on to complete graduate school at MIT with a focus on climate policy, sustainability, and energy economics. I was the President of the largest student organization on MIT’s campus: The MIT Climate and Energy Club. I was also a Director of the MIT Energy Conference, the largest student-led conference in the country. I’ve been in the trenches of climate and energy policy, and my one big takeaway is that we’re not punching back with enough strength against dishonest politicians taking money from an industry with deep pockets. Progressives and climate activists will never be able to push for bold and immediately effective climate legislation until oil funded politicians, big oil dollars, and their dark money PACs are wiped out and can never participate in our democracy again. Our planet demands that we struggle and fight back. Our citizens deserve it.
Over the past few years I’ve been traveling across Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, and other parts of the Midwestern United States (that are often deep-red and Republican!) siting, prospecting, and building large, grid-scale clean energy projects. Constructing solar and wind projects in rural areas requires deep and meaningful community engagement with the Americans living in these areas. I’ve walked side by side with rural American communities as we explain the necessity of moving to renewable energy and bring them on board as community partners that recognize the importance of clean air, clean soil, clean water, and healthy communities. A strong majority of community members in these rural areas are hyper aware of the environmental crises that we are facing, and when we go out there to meet them, I have yet to receive any substantial push back on the existence of global warming, or the threat that climate change poses from even the most red and pro-trump counties. When we meet people on the ground where they are, whether it’s in rural America, or in suburban Houston, people are receptive and always supportive of preserving our environment, bettering public health outcomes, and most importantly, removing money from our politics.
Growing inflationary pressures, an economy that only works for the rich, and unaffordable healthcare continue to pain working families and young people throughout the newly drawn congressional district. There are thousands of community members of immigrant and minority backgrounds that cannot afford basic necessities or health insurance while zip codes in River Oaks, where Lizzie Fletcher resides, find themselves free of the systemic failures that heavily weigh on Gulfton, Sharpstown, and Alief.
While this wealth-fueled divide grows deeper, the congresswoman has used her platform to benefit the institutions polluting the planet. Fletcher has taken millions of dollars from a variety of industries through corporate PAC donations, and her campaign contributions are littered with special-interest donations from Wall Street, big banks, health insurance giants, and the world’s largest oil companies. I’m not taking a cent of corporate PAC money or big industry dollars because this race is about building a movement that will return power to the people of Houston, and away from corporations, lobbyists, and this broken system of government where our officials are purchased by special interests. If humanity, and Houston are to progress, we must work to immediately address the climate crisis and protect our citizens in this city from such a cyclical industry. My career transitioning from oil and gas engineer to renewable energy developer is proof of the possibility of an energy transition, but we need to make this transition happen on a much faster scale.