Flooding devastated communities across Texas. Meanwhile, scientists say that climate change will only intensify record breaking storms like Harvey. So what lessons can we learn from this tragedy?
Now, more than ever, we need to do more to protect our communities. We need to make them less susceptible to flooding, sewage overflows, and leaks from toxic waste sites, and of course we need to prevent even more intense global warming-fueled extreme weather in the future.
Unfortunately, rather than protecting our most vulnerable communities, budget proposals on the table in Washington, DC right now threaten key programs that protect our state from storm-related impacts. According to analysis by Environment Texas:
- The House budget proposal has a provision that would help the Trump administration roll back the Clean Water Rule, leaving flood-absorbing wetlands more vulnerable to pollution and degradation. Here in Texas we have 7.6 million acres of wetlands, and blocking this key protection would leave Texas more vulnerable to extreme weather.
- Texas receives $2.7 million in grants that allow our communities to protect their coasts from storms and rising seas. These funds would be cut or eliminated under both the House and Trump administration’s budgets.
- The Clean Water State Revolving Fund provided $61.1 million in 2016 for Texas to repair and build stormwater and sewage treatment infrastructure. Nationwide, our wastewater systems face a $271 billion backlog, yet the House and President’s spending bills fail to provide proper funding to this critical program.
- One in four Americans live within 3 miles of a Superfund site, the most toxic waste sites in the country. Texas has 51 such sites, and the Superfund program is tasked with cleaning up these sites, responding to environmental crises, and protecting the public from hazardous substances, but the Trump administration has proposed cutting the Superfund program by nearly one-third, which would put more Texans at risk from hazardous substances.
Now, more than ever, we need to invest in making our communities more resilient. All Texans are at risk if we let President Trump and some in Congress dismantle coastal and wetlands protections and continue to shortchange the cleanup of Superfund sites and our wastewater infrastructure.
In the past weeks, we have seen just how powerfully extreme weather can reshape our lives. If there’s one lesson these storms have shown us, it’s that Texas deserves more protection going forward, not less. We’re counting on Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn to pass a budget that puts our families’ health and community's safety first, one that will give Texans more shelter from the storms ahead.