Environment Texas today released its agenda for the 82nd session of the Texas legislature. Topping the list of priorities are incentives for solar power and maintaining funding for Texas’ state parks.
In 2009, the Texas Senate approved SB 545 (Fraser) and SB 541 (Watson) to create hundreds of millions of dollars in incentives for solar power. However, partisan wrangling over unrelated voter ID legislation torpedoed the solar and dozens of other bills. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, with few incentives offered by utilities, Texas is ranked 13th in the nation for installed solar. As a result, Texas has missed out on opportunities to attract solar manufacturing facilities and thousands of jobs.
“Solar energy doesn’t pollute or ever run out,” said Luke Metzger, Director of Environment Texas. “The fact that it could also be a huge boon to our economy makes it a no-brainer. It’s time for the Legislature to finish the job and make Texas number one for solar power.”
According to a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department analysis of HB1, legislative budget cuts could force the closure of seven state parks and eliminate funds for local parks and neighborhood playgrounds. Funded by entrance fees and sales taxes on sporting goods, Texas parks bring in more than enough money to cover their operations.
“Texas parks are a big part of what makes Texas great,” said Metzger. “They’re the kind of thing we stand up for, even when times are tough. The Legislature should keep its hands off our parks.”
Environment Texas’ agenda also recommends measures to promote sustainable land use, solid waste reduction, clean water, clean air and energy efficiency.