2007 Legislative Agenda
Save Texas parks
From the wildlife habitat they protect to the countless recreational opportunities they provide, our parks represent a big part of what makes Texas special. After years of budget cuts, the 80th Legislature took an important first step toward repairing our parks by providing $182 million in additional funding for the 2008-2009 biennium. However, the Legislature failed to secure long-term funding and protections for our parks system. Environment Texas supports:
•Appropriation of all revenues generated by the Sporting Goods Sales Tax as well as other user fees and taxes presently directed to the parks system.
•Appropriation of $150 million for the acquisition and development of new state parks and the addition of acreage to existing parks.
Encourage energy efficiency
Energy efficiency is the cleanest, quickest and cheapest way to get smart about energy use and reduce pollution, saving both money and the environment. According to a December 2008 report by the Public Utilities Commission, Texas could reduce peak electric usage by 23 percent if utilities invest more in efficiency measures, saving Texans as much $11.9 billion on their electric bills. Environment Texas supports:
•Requiring electric utilities to reduce electricity consumption by at least 10 percent by the year 2020 by offering expanded rebates for weatherizing homes, replacing inefficient appliances and other efficiency programs.
•Updating residential and commercial building codes to reduce energy usage by at least 15 percent.
•Establishing efficiency standards for various appliances, including swimming pool pumps.
•Increasing funding for the Texas LoanSTAR Program to $300 million to support efficiency measures for new school, university and state buildings.
Invest in clean water
Texas’ rivers, lakes, bays, harbors, estuaries and wetlands are essential to our health, quality of life and natural heritage. But pollution, drought and increased demand put the future of our water supply in doubt. Efficiency, prevention of pollution run-off and strict enforcement of water pollution laws are the most cost-effective ways to meet our water needs. Environment Texas recommends:
•Investing the proceeds of the federal stimulus in green infrastructure, such as runoff mitigation and water efficiency.
•Requiring the state to assess penalties on law-breaking water polluters that at a minimum recover the economic benefit of non-compliance.
From Central Texas semiconductor manufacturers that produce photovoltaic equipment to rural farmers ready to lease their land for large-scale solar power plants, Texas has what it takes to become a solar power leader. Texas receives more solar radiation than any other state and is number one in terms of its solar potential. According to the State Energy Conservation Office, the energy from sunshine falling on just one acre of land in West Texas is equal to 800 barrels of oil each year. Environment Texas supports:
•Requiring electric utilities and retail electric providers to help develop at least 4,000 megawatts of solar power by the year 2020 by offering incentives to install solar on rooftops and financing the development of utility-scale solar power plants.
•Eliminating the sales tax on the purchase and installation of solar panels.
•Ensuring that any home or business owner who generates solar power has the right to be connected to the electrical grid and sell excess power to the local utility at a fair price.
•Offering solar, including solar water heaters, as a standard option in all new home construction, and prohibiting homeowner’s associations from blocking home solar installations.
Curb global warming
Existing technology could substantially reduce global warming pollution, protecting us from irreversible environmental damage. By making power plants and factories more energy efficient, engineering cars to go farther on a gallon of gas, and shifting the country to clean, renewable energy sources, we can fight global warming. Environment Texas supports:
•Establishing a registry to inventory Texas emissions.
•Implementing all policies that reduce emissions with a net fiscal savings or revenue-neutral impact to the state.
•Reducing global warming emissions by at least 20 percent below current levels by 2020, and by at least 80 percent by 2050.
•Requiring automakers to comply with the Clean Cars Program, which has been adopted by 14 states and is being considered by four more.
Protect our coasts and natural areas
Every hour, 20 acres of our coastal prairies, forests and working farms are destroyed to make room for new strip malls, subdivisions and other developments. Unmanaged development over the Edwards Aquifer, and near our beaches and other critical natural areas endangers water supplies and threatens our quality of life. Environment Texas supports:
•Giving county officials greater authority to regulate land use.
•Prohibiting the General Land Office from selling environmentally-sensitive land for the purposes of development.
•Requiring protective buffer zones to be placed between developments and our beaches and dunes.
•Funding for the Texas Farm and Ranch Conservation Program.
Ensure clean air
More than two-thirds of Texans live in places where, on certain days of the year, the air is unsafe to breathe. Pollution from power and industrial plants, cars and trucks, and even ships docking in Texas ports is making many Texans sick. Pollution is also taking its toll on our environment, scarring scenic vistas with soot, smog and smoke. Environment Texas supports:
•A moratorium on construction of new coal-fired power plants, unless all carbon emissions are captured and stored.
•Requiring the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to consider the cumulative effects of emissions from multiple sources before issuing permits.
•Requiring coal-fired power plants and cement kilns to reduce emissions of toxic mercury by 80 percent by the year 2012, and all cement kilns built prior to 1980 to meet 2008 New Source Performance Standards by 2012.
•Reducing emissions in toxic hotspots and increasing scrutiny of permits in areas where toxic pollution levels are already excessive.
•Increasing public access to air toxic information.
•Earmarking additional funds for the Texas Clean Bus Program to protect school-age Texans.
•Fully-funding the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan and the Low-Income Vehicle Repair and Replacement Program, and expanding the program to include electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.