Top environmental (and anti-environmental) bills in the Texas Legislature

More than 7,000 bills have been filed in the Legislature this session. 

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Luke Metzger
Executive Director

Author: Luke Metzger

Executive Director

(512) 479-0388

Started on staff: 1998
B.A., University of Southern California

As the executive director of Environment Texas, Luke is a leading voice in the state for clean air, clean water, clean energy and open space. Luke has led successful campaigns to win permanent protection for the Christmas Mountains of Big Bend; to compel Exxon, Shell and Chevron Phillips to cut air pollution at four Texas refineries and chemical plants; and to boost funding for water conservation and state parks. The San Antonio Current has called Luke "long one of the most energetic and dedicated defenders of environmental issues in the state." He has been named one of the "Top Lobbyists for Causes" by Capitol Inside, received the President's Award from the Texas Recreation and Parks Society for his work to protect Texas parks, and was chosen for the inaugural class of "Next Generation Fellows" by the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law at UT Austin. Luke, his wife, son and daughters are working to visit every state park in Texas.

We're now about halfway through the legislative session. Here are our favorite (and least favorite) of the 7000+ bills filed in the 2021 session. 

100% renewable energy

Texas is home to an abundance of clean energy options — the sun’s power, the mighty winds of west and coastal Texas, the earth’s heat, and even the energy leaking from drafty windows in our homes and businesses. Despite our wealth of resources, renewable energy supplies just about 25% of our state’s electricity (almost half the percentage used by Oklahoma); and while we rank first in solar energy potential, Texas only ranks fourth for installed solar. By using energy more efficiently and tapping our vast renewable resources, we can move to 100% clean energy: energy that doesn’t pollute, doesn’t contribute to climate change, and never runs out.

Environment Texas supports:

  • HB 1972 (Gervin-Hawkins) to require 50% renewable electricity by 2035 and 100% by 2050 
  • SB 398 (Menendez) and HB 3696 (Deshotel) adopting a Solar Customer Protection Act to make it easier for Texans to go solar 
  • HB 1607 (Darby) and SB 1325 (Hinojosa) to invest in additional transmission lines to bring wind and solar power to our cities
  • SB 243 (Eckhardt) and HB 4556 (Anchia) to boost utility energy efficiency programs
  • SB 415 (Hancock) and HB 1672 (Holland) clarifying and encouraging utilities and third-parties to utilize energy storage 
  • HB 1533 (Reynolds) to create an energy efficiency loan guarantee program under the Texas emissions reduction plan

Environment Texas opposes:

  • SB 1255 (Birdwell) to discriminate against wind and solar energy in the Chapter 313 economic development program
  • SB 1256 (Birdwell) to discriminate against wind and solar energy in Chapter 312 property tax abatements
  • SB 1278 (Hancock) to discriminate against wind and solar in the ERCOT market

Global warming solutions
A greener, healthier world requires each of us to do all we can to eliminate the pollution and practices that are warming the planet and changing our climate. Environment Texas supports action to move us closer to the world we want to live in, from reducing pollution from oil and gas to accelerating the transition to cars, trucks and buses that don’t pollute.

Environment Texas supports:

  • SB 1303 (Blanco) and HB 4120 (Deshotel) to modify the Clean School Bus program to prioritize electric buses and directing the Public Utility Commission to adopt rules to remove barriers for schools to install charging infrastructure, solar and batteries. 
  • HB 2221 (Canales) to expand the use of electric vehicles. Under the bill, the state would develop a statewide EV charging infrastructure plan, expand rebates to include trucks, allow Texans to get the rebate immediately when they buy the car rather than having to wait several months, and develop a battery recycling plan. 
  • HB 1521 (Hinojosa) and SB 388 (Eckhardt) to eliminate methane gas flaring on lands owned by the University of Texas by 2025.
  • HB 1452 (Rosenthal) to end routine flaring across the state 
  • HCR 22 (Anchia) to express support for reducing greenhouse gas emissions

Environment Texas opposes:

  • HB 17 (Deshotel) to preempt cities from eliminating gas pollution in buildings
  • HB 1683 (Landgraf) to prohibit cities from enforcing federal regulations on oil and gas. The City of Austin says the bill will require it to close Barton Springs Pool.
  • SB 1261 (Birdwell) to preempt city climate plans
  • SB 13 (Birdwell) and HB 2189 (King) to prohibit state investment funds from doing business with companies which refuse to invest in fossil fuels
  • HB 427 (King) to assess an annual $200 fee on electric vehicles

Clean Air

We look forward to the day where all Texans can breathe safe and clean air, especially vulnerable populations like children and senior citizens. Despite progress in recent years, air pollution from cars and trucks, petrochemical facilities, power plants, concrete batch plants and more causes thousands of premature deaths each year, as well as inducing a host of human health issues including asthma and cancer. We need the state of Texas to hold polluters accountable and fund programs to reduce air pollution.

Environment Texas supports:

  • HB 1820 (Zwiener) to increase penalties for illegal pollution
  • SB 1263 (Birdwell) and HB 3294 (Bell) to make sure all Texas Emissions Reduction Program funds go to support clean air 
  • SB 126 (Johnson) to set safety and pollution standards for above ground storage tanks

Clean Water

From taking a dip in the local swimming hole to the water we drink from the faucet, we all want our water to be safe, healthy and plentiful. Environment Texas is working to protect our waterways from pollution with nature-based infrastructure, such as rain gardens and green roofs, and to protect our drinking water.

Environment Texas supports:

  • HB 2350 (Zwiener) to create a nature-based infrastructure financing program within the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to fully fund community projects
  • HB 186 (Zwiener) to provide a property tax break for installing rainwater harvesting or graywater systems
  • HB 2038 (Talarico) to protect children’s health by getting toxic lead out of school drinking water
  • HB 2716 (King) to give the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department contested case status on water rights and pollution permits
  • HB 4506 (Morales Shaw) and SB 2073 (Menendez) to ban toxic PFAS chemicals in firefighting foam
  • HB 2225 (King) to protect flows of water in our rivers and streams and to our bays and estuaries
  • HB 4146 (King) and SB 1747 (Zaffirini) to prohibit the discharge of treated wastewater into pristine streams, including in the Devils River and Nueces River basins 

Environment Texas opposes:

  • HB 2692 (Landgraf) to reduce fees for a radioactive waste dump operator to be used for cleaning up an Andrews County waste site 

Save the Bees

Bees are dying off at an unsustainable rate, with serious consequences for our natural world. They play a vital role as pollinators, and losing them would have a devastating ripple effect across all ecosystems. That’s why we’re working to expand bee habitats and stop the use of bee-killing pesticides.

Environment Texas supports:

  • HB 520 (Beckley) to require utilities, after they dig along state highways, to install native and pollinator-friendly plants
  • SB 1772 (Zaffirini) to establish a voluntary pollinator-friendly designation for solar farms
  • SB 1128 (Powell) to creats a pollinator health committee to study the threats to bees and other pollinators and develop a plan to protect them. The bill also directs Texas AgrifLife to educate the public about threats to bees from pesticides.

Fund our state parks

Camping, fishing, hiking and nature viewing: our local and state parks protect some of the most beautiful places in the state and give us places to teach our kids about the great outdoors. The passage of Proposition 5, to guarantee that the state sales tax on sporting goods goes towards funding our state and local parks and historic sites, will give the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) the ability to finally catch up on a huge backlog of repairs. But fixing parks is not enough. Demand for parks is skyrocketing. Our population has been booming, but the park system has not. Our existing parks are overcrowded at times, with visitors sometimes facing long lines to enter or even being turned away.

Environment Texas supports:

  • SB 700 (Buckingham) to reauthorize the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
  • SB 1 (Nelson) which (as of publication) includes full use of the sporting goods sales tax (SGST) for our parks. Note that the budget changes as it goes through the process, so we need to keep an eye on it to make sure the parks are fully funded. Prop 5 allows the Legislature, with a vote of 2/3 of each chamber, to use up to half of the SGST. That's not likely to happen, but we'll be watching.

Stop concrete pollution

By failing to follow best practices, too many Aggregate Production Operations (APOs) are causing significant harm to public health and the environment in Texas. Gravel pits and quarries can permanently scar the land and pollute groundwater. Rock crushing facilities release crystalline silica, a known carcinogen that can cause silicosis, a chronic disease that scars lung tissue. Concrete batch plants, often located in heavily populated neighborhoods, can harm the public with noise, light and air pollution.

Environment Texas supports:

  • HB 291 (Murr) to improve reclamation of quarries
  • SB 952 (Hinojosa) and HB 416 (Walle) to include detailed plot plans in applications for standard permits for concrete batch plants
  • HB 1912 (Wilson) and SB 1209 (Schwertner) to establish stronger permit requirements for air, noise, and light pollution at aggregate operations 

Wildlife Over Waste

Every day, people throw away tons of single-use cups, containers and other plastic “stuff.” Among the worst forms of plastic pollution is polystyrene foam (the stuff most of us call Styrofoam), which never fully degrades. Nothing we use for a few minutes should be allowed to pollute our oceans and rivers and threaten wildlife for centuries.

Environment Texas:

  • HB 176 (Zwiener) to restore rights of cities to ban single use plastics
Luke Metzger
Executive Director

Author: Luke Metzger

Executive Director

(512) 479-0388

Started on staff: 1998
B.A., University of Southern California

As the executive director of Environment Texas, Luke is a leading voice in the state for clean air, clean water, clean energy and open space. Luke has led successful campaigns to win permanent protection for the Christmas Mountains of Big Bend; to compel Exxon, Shell and Chevron Phillips to cut air pollution at four Texas refineries and chemical plants; and to boost funding for water conservation and state parks. The San Antonio Current has called Luke "long one of the most energetic and dedicated defenders of environmental issues in the state." He has been named one of the "Top Lobbyists for Causes" by Capitol Inside, received the President's Award from the Texas Recreation and Parks Society for his work to protect Texas parks, and was chosen for the inaugural class of "Next Generation Fellows" by the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law at UT Austin. Luke, his wife, son and daughters are working to visit every state park in Texas.