Texas Campaign for the Environment: Victories 2011
In late January, TCE generated hundreds of personalized, hand-written letters the Austin City Council to halt a purchase power agreement with NRG Energy. This deal would have committed Austin to buying more nuclear power instead of staying on the energy efficiency and renewable energies path. NRG’s proposal would have invested Austin in two additional reactors that were to be built at the South Texas Nuclear Plant (STP) site in Matagorda County, TX. (After the Fukushima disaster, NRG halted further investment in the expansion, but has not yet withdrawn the application to build the new reactors.)
In March, TCE also generated comments from Texas residents to the U. S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) against the relicensing of 2 aging reactors for another 20 years at the STP site. TCE offices in Austin and Houston held an April protest at the NRG Shareholder meeting to mark the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster.
news: Lovell: Nuclear energy? No, it's a bad deal for Austin (Austin American-Statesman)
In the City of Dallas, TCE worked with local allies to successfully delay permitting for hydraulic fracturing—or, “hydro-fracking”—wells until the completion of a comprehensive study of related environmental and public health impacts. Additionally, TCE and its allies secured the formation of a hydro-fracking task force. This task force will complete the study and ultimately make policy recommendations to city officials based on sound science and the most up-to-date information on fracking. Meanwhile, no new fracking permits will be granted before the task force completes its work.
news: Group, council member seek regulations in Dallas gas drilling (WFAA News Dallas)
During the 2011 Texas Legislative Session, TCE worked with local governments, recycling businesses and advocates to press state lawmakers to pass a bill that makes TV manufacturers responsible for taking back and recycling obsolete televisions. S.B. 329, the Texas TV TakeBack bill, passed overwhelmingly through the House and Senate -- and Gov. Perry signed it into law!
Over the course of nine months in 2010 & 2011, TCE supporters generated more than 45,000 personal letters, emails and direct phone calls to Texas Senators and Representatives, urging them to support positive environmental legislation. TV recycling wasn’t the only TCE victory during the 2011 Legislative Session. Here are some other examples:
- TCE worked with recycling advocates and local government leaders from Fort Stockton and Brownsville to defeat proposed legislation that could have made it impossible for cities or counties to take strong action against single-use bag pollution.
- Together with environmental groups and local quality-of-life activists from all over Texas, TCE worked successfully to pass legislation to improve the state environmental agency – and to defeat proposals that would have made it much more difficult for Texas residents to oppose polluting facilities in their communities.
- During the final days of the legislative session, TCE helped defeat a bill that would have given legal immunity to industry polluters and stripped away the rights of Texans to enjoy and protect their private property.
news: This is a TV program Perry should love (Austin American-Statesman)
news: Post-session, some environmentalists feel they dodged legislative bullet (Austin American-Statesman)
In July, TCE worked with several local organizations and allies and encouraged citizens to participate in a phone drive to local officials to prevent the adoption of a 20-year, no-bid, recycling contract with Waste Management. The no-bid process had a high potential of creating a bad deal for taxpayers because competition would be eliminated.
TCE see this as a victory for recycling and a victory for Houston taxpayers, because an open, competitive bidding process will certainly result in the best recycling contract and the best deal for Houston residents. TCE also believes that other stakeholders--taxpayers, neighborhood associations, environmental advocates, and front-line city employees--should be included in the discussion for negotiating a long-term recycling plan.
However, this issue is far from settled. Next we must ensure the contract itself is designed with the right criteria in mind – not just that Houston officials should go with the “lowest bidder,” but that Houston should identify the best overall recycling program for our money. Then Houston must work to see that the best proposal really is selected, and to defeat efforts by any company or companies attempting to use their connections at city hall to influence the process.
news: Kuffner: The long-term recycling deal (Charles Kuffner)
In the Spring and Summer of 2011, TCE used its grassroots orgnanizing to generate letters to the Austin City Council and Mayor Lee Leffingwell to ban single-use bags in retail stores.
In early August, the Mayor and City Council voted unanimously to instruct city staff to begin developing an ordinance to phase out single-use bags in Austin. Such an ordinance will reduce the amount of pollution in the Austin area and will free up tax dollars for other projects. The ordinance is expected to be written, reviewed, and up for another vote by November.
Although TCE is in support of a ban on plastic bags, TCE wants the ordinance to include paper bags as well. TCE will be encouraging the City of Austin in coming months to include this in its plan to phase out single-use bags.
news: City Council moves ahead on plastic bag ban (Austin American-Statesman)