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.

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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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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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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News Release | Environment Texas Research and Policy Center

New tests find bee-killing pesticides in 51% of “bee-friendly” plants from garden centers across U.S. and Canada

AUSTIN - Many “bee-friendly” home garden plants sold at Home Depot, Lowe’s and Walmart have been pre-treated with pesticides shown to harm and kill bees, according to a study released today by Friends of the Earth and allies, including Environment Texas. The study, Gardeners Beware 2014, shows that 36 out of 71 (51 percent) of garden plant samples purchased at top garden retailers in 18 cities in the United States and Canada, including Austin, contain neonicotinoid (neonic) pesticides -- a key contributor to recent bee declines. Some of the flowers contained neonic levels high enough to kill bees outright assuming comparable concentrations are present in the flowers' pollen and nectar. Further, 40% of the positive samples contained two or more neonics.

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News Release | Environment Texas Research and Policy Center

New Report: Electric Cars Are Putting the Brakes on Pollution

AUSTIN—More than 220,000 electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles are on America’s roads today, delivering real benefits for our health and our environment, according to a new report released today by Environment Texas. In just the last two years, annual sales of electric vehicles have increased by 500 percent.

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