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Oil sector defender Senator Cruz wins re-election in Texas

Washington — Texas voted Tuesday to keep one of the oil industry's top defenders in the US Senate by re-electing Republican Senator Ted Cruz.

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Cruz won with about 51% of the vote, according to unofficial results. He beat Democrat Beto O'Rourke, who wanted to boost federal funding of climate research, rejoin the Paris climate agreement, increase the Environmental Protection Agency's independence and support stronger land-use policies in Texas.

Cruz has been one of the loudest voices in Washington for reforming the Renewable Fuel Standard, although the White House discarded his proposal to cap Renewable Identification Numbers at 10 cents. During a nearly two-year fight over the issue, Cruz rallied Northeast oil refinery workers, complaining that the biofuel policy is putting the facilities out of business and threatening regional energy security.

Trump sided with ethanol interests in October, directing EPA to approve year-round sales of higher-ethanol blends, although Trump asked for new rules for RINs trading as a concession to refiners.

Texas refineries can process 5.7 million b/d of crude. The state pumped 4.58 million b/d of oil in August, putting it on track to overtake OPEC's second-top producer, Iraq. Texas output has surged nearly 40% in the past year despite pipeline constraints that are expected to persist into next year.

President Donald Trump touted Texas' energy abundance during a rally for Cruz in Houston last month. "With Texas leading the way, think of this one, the United States is now -- this happened over the last very short period of time -- the largest producer of crude oil and natural gas anywhere in the world," Trump said.

-- Meghan Gordon, meghan.gordon@spglobal.com; Brian Scheid, brian.scheid@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Christopher Newkumet, newsdesk@spglobal.com