AUSTIN-- Ten legislators earned perfect scores on Environment Texas’ biennial scorecard, following a legislative session the group called a “net positive” for the environment. The group heralded victories on air quality, parks and renewable energy, while pointing out losses on water quality and environmental enforcement.
“We won some and we lost some, but overall this session turned out to be a net positive for the environment. Clean air and parks will get big boosts in funding and we fended off attacks on wind and solar power ,” said Luke Metzger, Executive Director for Environment Texas. “On the other hand, oil companies are a step closer to being able to dump their wastewater in our rivers and toughened penalties on peaceful protesters of their pipelines.”
Environment Texas applauded Senators Nathan Johnson and Kirk Watson and Representatives Jessica González, Vikki Goodwin, Abel Herrero, Gina Hinojosa, Donna Howard, Celia Israel, Ana-Maria Ramos and Erin Zwiener for earning 100% ratings in the 2019 Environment Texas Scorecard. And no member earned an ignominious 0% rating, while the average score increased in the House from 34% to 64% and in the Senate from 43% to 65%. Environment Texas tracked 10 votes each in the House and Senate, including votes on fracking wastewater, recycling, oil well accidents and renewable energy.
AIR QUALITY: It’ll be harder for local governments to sue polluters, but the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP) program was extended and in two years the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) will be able to start spending about three times as much on clean air, rather than the current practice where the Legislature uses the funds to certify the budget.
RADIOACTIVE WASTE: The Governor vetoed an anti domestic violence bill after Rep. Poncho Nevarez snuck a completely unrelated amendment on to to give a radioactive waste dump a multi-million dollar windfall. The dump - run by a company called Waste Control Specialists - also won't be allowed to expand as the company had lobbied.
PARKS AND WILDLIFE: Our state parks had a banner session, getting full funding of the Sporting Goods Sales Tax (SGST) for only the second time in history. In November voters will have a chance to guarantee that the full SGST will go to our state parks forevermore, as intended. Bills to save the bees went nowhere, but the House Ag committee will look at the issue in the interim.
WATER QUALITY: Big Oil succeeded in the first step toward being able to dump their wastewater in our rivers, but at least taxpayers won’t be subsidizing them to do it. The Governor vetoed a bill to study green stormwater infrastructure (green roofs, permeable pavement, etc) to help with water pollution and flooding. Efforts to weaken water standards in the Austin and San Antonio watersheds failed, thanks to a parliamentary move by state Rep. Erin Zwiener.
RECYCLING: TCEQ will develop a plan to stimulate use of recyclable materials as feedstock in processing and manufacturing under a bill passed by Sen. Judith Zaffirini.
RENEWABLE ENERGY: The “solar bill of rights” failed, but so did attacks on renewable energy.
Environment Texas is a grassroots advocate for clean air, clean water and open spaces.