Environment Texas Research and Policy Center Latest Blog Posts

Boil water notices, like the one issued last week in Austin, are common in Texas. According to a new study, the number of boil water notices increased by 73%, from 2011 to 2016, while the number of sewer overflows, and lead contamination events increased by 983%, and 1,300%, respectively. 
 

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Emma Pabst
Global Warming Solutions Advocate

Last night myself and two of my brilliant interns attended Austin Independent School District’s monthly board meeting, where we called for solar on every school by 2025. Several school board members requested reviews of district solar policies, including the 2013 bond money designated for solar energy and cost-savings analysis of solar installations.

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Emma Pabst
Global Warming Solutions Advocate

When I found out that my first campaign would be to put solar on every school I was pumped. I love schools. I went to schools. I made my best friends at schools. I learned so many things at schools. Heck, until a year ago, I thought I wanted to keep going to school forever.

Treated wastewater can cause pollution when it's emptied into environmentally sensitive streams, but when it's reused, it can provide a much-needed alternative source of water for landscape irrigation, agriculture, and industry. (Guest post from the "No Dumping Sewage" campaign)

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Luke Metzger
Executive Director

This past Sunday I braced the scorching summer heat, along with other sustainability-oriented Austinites, to see some of the city’s greenest homes on display for the 22nd annual Cool House Tour. Beyond Energy Star appliances and solar panels, I had little to no knowledge on the types of fixes that could make homes more energy efficient. I was a little apprehensive to walk in the first house with my lack of knowledge, however, my insecurities faded quickly as I was met with welcoming smiles and by those willing to share their knowledge at every home.

Proposed changes to Austin's Land Development Code will benefit the environment by strengthening drainage requirements and encouraging green infrastructure.

Today I participated in an Austin event to launch a new national campaign calling on McDonald’s to commit to a concrete timeline to phase out the routine use of medically important antibiotics in its beef and pork supply chains. Here was my statement: "My family has been farming in Texas since the late 1800s. I grew up on my grandfather’s farm near Temple, where we raised corn, cotton, and a small head of cattle. The only time we use antibiotics was when our livestock were sick. Our cattle ate grass in the summer and hay in the winter, and concentrated feed pellets on accasion. But none of that feed contained antibiotics. We raised health cattle that we sold at market and ate ourselves.

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Luke Metzger
Executive Director

Today we released Our Health at Risk: Why Are Millions of Americans Still Breathing Unhealthy Air?, which examines air pollution data for 2015. We also obtained preliminary data from the EPA for 2016 (the data will officially be considered final on May 1, but we expect few if any changes). So how did Texas metro areas stack up? In general, air pollution improved in Texas in 2016, with a few exceptions. There were more smoggy days in Houston and more sooty days in El Paso, Brownsville and McAllen (increases italicized below).

 | by
Luke Metzger
Executive Director

On May 19th, the PUCT sent El Paso Electric’s bid to increase utility rates back down to administrative law judges after determining that El Paso Electric did not provide adequate notice of their rate increase to residential solar customers under Texas law. Earlier this year, El Paso Electric (EPE) and the City of El Paso had reached a settlement on a $37 million rate increase to fund the public utility’s infrastructure improvements. EPE executives claim this deal represents the best interests of the utility and its customers, but some customers are being hit harder than others.