Working to improve Texas’ environmental standards
The Texas Legislature only meets every other year, and it is currently in session. Our state lawmakers have a total of 140 days in 2017 to make critical decisions, to pass or defeat legislation, that have a direct impact on Texans’ quality of life and the environment.
Working on these issues in Texas isn’t easy, with powerful polluter lobbies that are used to getting what they want from state legislators and regulators. That’s why we need people power from concerned citizens across the state to hold lawmakers accountable and work toward a long-term goal for real protections for our air, water, land, and health.
In 2017 we are focused on several issue areas:
- Battery Recycling: We will be working again to pass HB 1874 that will make manufacturers responsible for recycling household batteries. This will mean that every Texan will have options for keeping their batteries out of the trash, and big battery companies will have new incentives to design better, more sustainable products in the future. Read the Texas Campaign for the Environment Fund report on battery recycling here.
- Oil & Gas Enforcement: The Railroad Commission has nothing to do with trains—they oversee the oil and gas industry in Texas. The agency is up for its once-each-decade review in 2017, so state legislators must pass a bill to reauthorize the agency – House Bill 1818/Senate Bill 300. This is an historic opportunity for big changes to the agency, which are sorely needed, because right now the Railroad Commission is struggling to enforce basic Texas laws that protect public health. Read the state’s own report here. Thanks to the support from thousands of our supporters and our allies, positive improvements to the Railroad Commission have been included in the Sunset Bill to improve protections for natural resources and public health. In addition to House Bill 1818/Senate Bill 300, we are backing several bills to improve the Railroad Commission’s enforcement, accountability, and transparency: HB 237, SB 568/HB 247, SB 569, and SB 567.
- Sewage sludge: The liquid waste left over from our wastewater treatment systems in Texas is being used in lieu of fertilizer all across rural Texas, and there are big questions about how safe this process is. At the very least we know there are major needs to improve environmental protections so that harmful materials don’t end up in our drinking water. We are working with several communities directly affected by this problem to improve protections for those living near sewage sludge sites, and we are working on state legislation to extend those protections to all residents. Senate Bill 746/House Bill 2092 would finally prohibit the land application of grit and grease trap waste and we want to see this bill become law.
- Landfills and Environmental Permitting: Communities across Texas are fighting proposed landfills that will destroy their property values and undermine the health of their communities. But because industry lobbyists often hold sway over Texas lawmakers, the deck is stacked against property owners and their families. We are pursuing several bills that could limit the power of landfill companies to put their polluting facilities almost anywhere they want while also ensuring that all Texans have the power to defend their communities from unwise and unwanted industrial operations. We support Senate Bill 551 which would prevent bad permit applications from being re-filed after having already been denied by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
- Local Control: State lawmakers have repeatedly tried to preempt the 11 local ordinances that cities have passed to address single-use bag pollution, and they will likely push such a bill again in 2017. Cities like South Padre Island, Brownsville, Fort Stockton, Kermit and others all have diverse reasons for reducing plastic bag pollution. For some cities, bag ordinances support beach tourism, others protect livestock. We oppose SB 103 which would preempt local governments’ authority to ban or restrict single-use bags. Cities should have the right to make decisions to protect property and quality of life when the Texas government fails to do so.
The nature of legislative work is that things can change rapidly, especially right now during the fast paced session. Our supporters across the state keep us flexible as we all work toward a cleaner, healthier, safer Texas. Your action is what will make the difference in these fights—stay tuned as we move forward and we’ll let you know how you can press your lawmakers on these and other important issues!
Background image by Ed Schipul via Flickr
Send a message to your Texas Senator (at the state capitol – not John Cornyn and Ted Cruz!) and Representative urging them to support common sense environmental protections during the 2017 legislative session.
Let your lawmakers know you support local governments’ authority to reduce single-use bag pollution. 11 cities in Texas have passed local ordinances to put a ban or fee on single-use bags in order to protect wildlife and tourism industries among other reasons.
Write a personal letter to your state lawmakers asking them to support legislation in 2017 to establish a statewide recycling program for household batteries. 250 million household batteries go into Texas landfills each year. That’s just not sustainable!
From our blog: We held our first statewide webinar to share information about our legislative priorities in 2017. Folks from all over the state tuned in online to learn, discuss, and TAKE ACTION!
Following a town hall meeting in Grapevine, it’s clear that many North Texans want significant changes made to the Texas Railroad Commission at the State Capitol next year. Here’s our recap of the meeting and how you can get involved in the process.
Houston Chronicle: Reacting to a groundswell of concern about the effect of plastic bags on the environment, Galveston is on the forefront of a statewide controversy over cities’ ability to ban plastic bags that are killing turtles, birds and fouling beaches.
E-Scrap News: The Texas Legislature’s serious consideration of a law mandating take-back and recycling for all household batteries sends a signal to other states considering the same, an advocate for the bill says.
My Fox Lubbock: According to the Texas Campaign for the Environment, about three billion batteries are buried in landfills every year.