East Texas’ Neches River National Wildlife Refuge may get critical funding soon if congressional negotiators keep it in a federal Transportation bill. The bill is currently in conference committee and final decisions are expected this week. Last week, Texas Representatives Lloyd Doggett, Ruben Hinojosa, Gene Green and Silvestre Reyes, joined more than 100 members of Congress on a letter to the conferees urging them to keep the lands funding in the bill.

Summer has officially begun—we have welcomed in Austin’s first triple digit heat wave of the year, with temperatures projected to spike as high as 106° F through the rest of the week. Don’t be surprised if coming years bring heat waves like this earlier and earlier in the summer due to climate change. Extreme heat is one of the most obvious effects of global warming and it is one that most Texans are likely all too familiar with. Average temperatures in our state are expected to increase between 4.5° and 9° F by 2080, according to a 2009 report from the United States Global Change Research Program. This hotter weather poses a threat to both human and environmental health and security. In 2011, the Texas Department of State Health Services recorded over 150 heat-related deaths in the state. As heat waves become more frequent and severe, the instances of heat stress and stroke will rise.

This week in Washington, DC

By | Luke Metzger

A lot happened on the environment in Washington, D.C. in the last week. Here's a quick recap:

The Farm Bill
Yesterday, the Senate voted on the Farm Bill, and thankfully, we kept some of the very worst provisions out of it. Senators Barrasso and Paul both introduced amendments that would have blocked the proposed clean water guidelines we strongly support from being finalized or implemented. Thanks in part to our outreach, Senate leadership opted to keep these dirty water amendments out of the final amendment deal on the bill, so they didn’t even come up for a vote. Still, Congress continues to try to roll back the guidance—in the House they now are moving another funding bill with a provision in the original bill to block the guidance. Also, an amendment to the Farm bill offered by Senator Lee (R-UT) to eliminate the Forest Legacy Project—a program under the Land and Water Conservation Fund umbrella that has led to the conservation of more than 2.2 million acres of working forest land since it was authorized in 1990, was defeated by a vote of 21 to 77.

Summer is here, which means that many Texas families will want to go out and visit their state parks. More than 7 million Texans each year head out to the 93 Texas state parks to spend quality time in the great outdoors doing family-friendly activities like camping, boating, hiking, and fishing. Texas state parks are a huge part of Texas’ tourism and travel industry, which is the third largest industry in the state and brings $51.8 billion into the Texas economy, and employs over half a million Texans. Clearly, state parks are an incredibly important to Texas’ economy. Thanks to last year’s budget cuts, however, Texas Parks and Wildlife is losing 21.5% of their funding this year and next year.