Texas Campaign for the Environment: Victories 2012
On March 1, 2012 the Austin City Council voted unanimously to ban single-use retail bags, starting in 2013. The culmination of a seven year effort by various groups including TCE, the ordinance represents the most comprehensive policy on disposable bags anywhere in the United States. Austin took a stand against a disposable culture and for a Zero Waste future by voting to ban both paper and plastic bags.
TCE took a lead on this issue, generating more than 7,000 letters to the Mayor and City Council and turning out our canvassers and allies to the numerous public hearings held on the topic. By developing grassroots support for the controversial policy and sticking with our lobby efforts even after industry delays had worn many activists out, TCE helped to win a victory that will benefit our land and water while setting a strong example for communities around the world.
news: Say Goodbye to Single-Use Shopping Bags in March 2013 (KUT News Austin)
On May 31st, 2012 the Frisco City Council announced an agreement to shut down the last lead smelter in Texas— less than one year after TCE and allies began organizing residents and helped form the local community group (Frisco Unleaded) that took the leading role in building public support and pressuring city officials.
TCE organizers generated thousands of letters to Frisco officials and helped turn neighbors out to public events, town hall meetings and City Council votes. Ultimately, local residents convinced city leaders that the Exide lead smelter was no longer a good fit in the growing suburban community. Thousands of families living in the shadow of harmful lead pollution will now be able to breathe a little easier!
news: Community Groups Make their Voices Heard in Forcing Exide Plant Closure in Frisco (Green Source D/FW)
The City of Houston passed a budget amendment in June to study the implications of a plastic bag ban and the problems of plastic bag litter. TCE was instrumental in showing public support for the passage of this amendment: In just five days of organizing, TCE was able to generate over 6,000 emails to elected city officials and spoke out at City Council. The amendment passed by a vote of 14 to 2.
In the coming months, TCE will be working with city officials to draft a comprehensive single-use bag ordinance. Passing this ordinance will be a major victory in addressing Houston’s growing waste and littering problem.
news: Council members consider unusual proposals to trim budget (ABC 13 News Houston)
Mayor Rawlings and the Dallas City Council took up a new long-term waste and recycling plan on August 22nd. They responded to issues raised by many stakeholders, including Texas Campaign for the Environment, and heard our message that we want recycling sooner, not later! Thanks to everyone who emailed or called the City Council--in just a few short days, you sent over 3,500 emails to City Hall on this issue. They heard you loud and clear, and voted to include important changes in the recycling plan. Now the real work begins to make recycling easy for everyone at home, at work and at play!
news: Dallas Council Approves Controversial Trash Plan, Calls for More Public Input (Dallas Morning News)
news: Dallas Looks at How to Produce Less Trash (New York Times)
TCE helped Burnett County residents to successfully oppose a septage waste threat to their drinking water in August. After the state environmental agency (TCEQ) gave permission to a septage waste hauler to dump on his own property, TCE co-filed an appeal and a hearing on the appeal was granted. TCE worked with neighbors who feared that the septage would flow directly into their drinking water through pits in rock quarries on either side of the hauler's property. After TCE and our attorney spoke at a well-attended community meeting, the waste hauler agreed to withdraw his application to dump and continue taking it to a treatment plant.
news: Plans to Dump Waste Aborted (Marble Falls Highlander)
In September, TCE organized residents of the Rio Grande Valley town of Rio Hondo and won a public meeting to discuss plans to bring commerical loads of liquid waste to their local wastewater treatment plant. Residents wrote letters and petitioned their legislators and the state environmental agency to grant the hearing and received word that there would be an opportunity to hear from state and company officials and oral public comment before a decision is made on whether to allow petroleum-based waste from oil change shops and other commercial sources to be processed at the small municipal treatment plant. A large number of stakeholders have been working to protect the Arroyo Colorado, where the liquids would be released, from additional pollution.
In Houston, TCE joined in the community effort during the November elections to pass Proposition B, which supports the Bayou Greenways Initiative. The bonds will provide the funding to add 2,000 acres of parks and 75 miles of additional trails along all the major bayous within in the Houston city limits. TCE educated and mobilized Houston voters at doors, on the phone, through email and postcards to vote yes on Proposition B, which passed by a resounding 60% of the vote - the highest of any of the City of Houston bonds on the ballot.