Updates

We stopped 20 state parks from closing

After devastating budget cuts in 2011, this spring, the Legislature restored funding for state and local parks. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department had warned that 20 state parks would have to close without additional funds. But after a public outcry—including thousands of petition signatures from Environment Texas members—the Legislature boosted funding by $62 million. That's enough to keep all our state parks open, make critical repairs, replant trees destroyed by wildfire at Bastrop State Park, and to give grants to cities to build new parks, ball fields and playgrounds.

Blog Post

EPA proposes new rules to cut refinery pollution | Luke Metzger

The Environment Protection Agency has just released a plan to protect fenceline communities from toxic oil refinery pollution, which includes long overdue health standards and expanded air monitoring. If adopted, EPA estimates the new standards would cut 5,600 tons of harmful chemicals from the air each year.

On Tuesday, EPA held a hearing in Galena Park, TX (outside Houston) to solicit public comment on the proposed rule. Environment Texas Director Luke Metzger attended the hearing and delivered the following testimony:

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News Release | Environment Texas Research & Policy Center

Solar capacity in Texas grew 45% in 2013

Environment Texas Research & Policy Center released Lighting the Way: The Top Ten States That Helped Drive America’s Solar Energy Boom in 2013, a new report which documents strong solar growth across the nation, including a 45% increase in Texas in 2013.   The report emphasizes that it is not availability of sunlight that makes states solar leaders, but the degree to which state and local governments have created effective public policy to help capture the virtually unlimited and pollution-free energy from the sun. 

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Report | Environment Texas Research & Policy Center

Lighting the Way

Solar energy is on the rise. Over the course of the last decade, the amount of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity in the United States has increased more than 120-fold, from 97 megawatts in 2003 to more than 12,000 megawatts at the end of 2013. In the first quarter of 2014, solar energy accounted for 74 percent of all the new electric generation capacity installed in the United States.

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Blog Post

Texas Policy Makers Address Ammonium Nitrate Storage | Luke Metzger

Attorney General Abbott has come under fire for his recent refusal to disclose the locations of facilities that store dangerous chemical compounds. In the face of public disapproval and potential new legislation, policymakers are scrambling to address this inflammatory issue. In response to last year’s fertilizer plant explosion that killed 15 people and injured 200 in West, Texas, this week the Texas House Homeland Security & Public Safety Committee held a hearing to discuss a bill geared toward improving safety regulations for storing ammonium nitrate.

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Blog Post

Rules governing new water infrastructure fund are out | Luke Metzger

The Texas Water Development Board has released the proposed rules governing new state water infrastructure funds (know as SWIFT and SWIRFT) that will fund billions of dollars of water projects across the state. These rules are expected to be published by the Texas Register around July 10th which will start the formal public comment period, expected to end September 1st. For a copy of the draft rules, click here. This summer the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) will hold three public hearings across Texas to receive feedback about these proposed rules. Ashley, our legal intern, addressed the TWDB last week and provided the first of many comments about the draft rules:

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