In 2013, Dallas became just the second city in Texas to adopt a long-term recycling plan aimed at achieving “Zero Waste,” in which City officials are working to put policies and programs in place to reduce, recover and recycle over 85% of discards currently sent to landfills by 2040. Accomplishing this ambitious goal would conserve natural resources, create jobs and reduce energy consumption.
However, our current curbside recycling programs are only the first step toward a truly sustainable solution for municipal solid waste. Most waste in DFW still makes its way to landfills and illegal dumpsites. In order to truly solve this problem, we must provide universal access to recycling everywhere people live, work and play.
For example, multi-family buildings are home to most Dallas residents, and with no city-wide programs in place, it is currently up to each apartment building owner or condominium association to decide whether to provide recycling access for residents and tenants. A 2014 survey conducted for the City of Dallas revealed that most are choosing not to recycle:
The Dallas Zero Waste Plan includes a goal to increase the commercial and multi-family recycling rates to 40% by 2020. Achieving such a rapid improvement will not be possible without a concerted civic engagement and public education effort. Our Zero Waste DFW Project is designed to help make this goal a reality.
Other Texas cities such as San Antonio, San Marcos, Austin and Fort Worth have adopted commercial recycling policies; we can learn from these examples. Multi-family buildings and businesses account for 83% of the waste that Dallas currently sends to landfills. Simply put, any efforts to reduce our overall waste and boost recycling must address these sources. We are committed to implementing a Universal Recycling Ordinance in Dallas and other DFW cities, and we need your help to do it. Take action today!
Multi-family buildings and businesses account for 83% of the waste that Dallas currently sends to landfills. Any efforts to reduce our overall waste and boost recycling must address these sources. Other Texas cities such as San Antonio, San Marcos, Austin and Fort Worth have adopted commercial recycling ordinances; we can learn from these examples and do the same in Dallas and other DFW cities.
Send your message to Mayor Rawlings and the City Council today: Dallas needs a Universal Recycling Ordinance!
The Texas Railroad Commission has nothing to do with trains—it’s the state agency that is supposed to regulate the oil and gas industry in Texas. This makes it one of the most important agencies there is, and right now they are undergoing an important review. Next year our state lawmakers could be voting on major changes to the agency. Because of the out-sized pollution impacts from oil and gas operations throughout Texas, this is a crucial opportunity to protect our environment and public health and safety for all residents.
State officials from the Texas Sunset Commission are currently undertaking this comprehensive review process, and they just released a report on the important changes that are needed at the Railroad Commission. What they found was disturbing. In their own words, the Railroad Commission:
These aren’t quotes from us here at Texas Campaign for the Environment or from another environmental group—this is a state oversight agency telling us that our way of enforcing oil and gas laws in Texas is broken. Read the whole report here.
At the heart of this problem is the way that the Railroad Commission enforces the law. This agency bends over backwards to avoid issuing penalties. Instead, they will forego any fines or other discipline as long as the lawbreaker complies after they are caught. The report found that current enforcement policy has the “unintended effect that operators will simply wait to be told to comply with regulations.”
Bad actors know they can break the law freely until an inspector comes—keep in mind that about 65% of oil and gas leases have gone more than 2 years without an inspection.
And because the agency doesn’t keep track of repeat offenders, those bad operators can start breaking the law again as soon as the inspector leaves. If another inspector shows up months or years later and find the same exact violations, the company still won’t be fined—they can play the same “we will now start obeying the law” game over and over again. As the report says, “the Railroad Commission cannot be certain that operators are not committing repeated violations.”
The solution is a simple, commonsense idea that state lawmakers of all political stripes should be able to support. The Texas Railroad Commission needs to get serious about enforcing the law, tracking their performance, and making violation and penalty information available to the public and our elected officials. The report makes an important recommendation: Make the Railroad Commission develop a public, annual strategic plan that tracks and measures the effectiveness of monitoring and enforcement.
Enforcing existing state laws designed to protect our air, water and land shouldn’t be a controversial issue. Better enforcement could improve other areas such as our chronic smog problem in DFW—much of our regional ozone pollution can be traced to oil and gas emissions. It could even affect the growing number of earthquakes caused by oil and gas operations, because if state officials want to put rules in place to prevent this damaging seismic activity, they’ll be utterly useless without proper enforcement.
We’re working to organize broad support and convince state officials do what’s right and take Texas law seriously. You can take action today!
(Featured background image by Scott Towery via Flickr)
The Texas Railroad Commission needs to get serious about enforcing the law, tracking their performance, and making violation and penalty information available to the public and our elected officials. You can take action today!
Send a letter to your State Representative and Senator: Enforce Texas laws for a safer oil and gas industry!
Dallas Morning News Op-Ed: Unfortunately, the state agency that is supposed to protect public safety and property rights by enforcing standards for the oil and gas industry — the Railroad Commission of Texas — bends over backwards to protect drilling companies instead.
Austin American-Statesman Op-Ed: Scientists have finally begun to confirm what many Texans have long suspected – the oil and gas drilling technology known as “fracking” and the disposal of fracking wastes has likely caused earthquakes in North Texas.
Max Anderson Film: Protesters across Texas erected an 18-foot mock fracking rig with a flare to protest HB 40, which would drastically limit local regulations on oil and gas extraction activities.
CultureMap Dallas: It’s been a long road for Dallas gas drilling opponents and proponents alike. The Dallas City Council has approved a new gas drilling ordinance that is among the strictest in the nation.
Dallas Morning News: Concerns about earthquakes, water and air pollution and noise have only intensified since Dallas first leased its land to Trinity East in 2008.