Environment Texas Research and Policy Center Latest Blog Posts

Yesterday was the first of many big days in the fight to get federal action on climate. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a Listening Session in Dallas to take public comment on the EPA’s upcoming regulations to limit carbon emissions from existing power plants. I headed up to the J. Erik Jonnson Library in Dallas along with our coalition partners from Sierra Club and Public Citizen to help shuttle in citizens from all over Texas and Oklahoma to the hearing to make sure citizen voices were heard.

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Luke Metzger
Executive Director

Last month, something remarkable happened here in Texas. The city council of Dallas, home to Halliburton and J.R. Ewing and a world icon of oil and gas drilling, voted to reject a proposal by a natural gas company to drill and “frack” on city-owned land. Faced with enormous community opposition to drilling over fears of water contamination, air pollution and misuse of public park land, the council voted not to gamble with public health.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings told the city council, "To paraphrase Ecclesiastes: There is a place for everything under Heaven, and I don’t think the place for drilling is in Dallas." The city is now poised to adopt a tough new ordinance which will effectively ban drilling within city limits.

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Luke Metzger
Executive Director

After several years of record-breaking temperatures, rampant drought and wildfire, and punishing extreme weather events like Superstorm Sandy, President Obama unveiled his administration’s plan to confront the challenge of global warming in a speech at Georgetown University on Tuesday, June 25. 

 | by
Luke Metzger
Executive Director

The world is watching Ecuador. Oil giant PetroAmazonas has plans to drill in the Amazon rainforest. Many rainforest residents are no doubt fearing a repeat of what happened nearly fifty years ago, when Texaco blasted through the Amazon rainforest, clearing acres of pristine forest land and began drilling for oil. The result was the most massive destruction and contamination of rainforest lands in history along with unprecedented human rights violations. It was the early sixties; and although world-wide activism was at its peak, there were no global public awareness campaigns or social media platforms to halt the determination of such a big oil company. Today, the world is different--environmentally aware and globally connected. There are multi-national commissions and environmental standards in place; yet, deliberate deforestation is still the top threat to the world’s tropical forests. And proposed drilling is a huge threat right now.

 | by
Luke Metzger
Executive Director

We're in one of the worst droughts ever, yet billions of gallons of water are still wasted each year through inefficient practices, leaving very little for recreation and wildlife. The good news is we can meet our water needs and keep our rivers flowing for recreation and wildlife if Texas makes water conservation a priority.

Over the next few days, Environment Texas Research and Policy Center will host town halls meeting in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Brownsville to discuss Texas’s water future. 

 | by
Luke Metzger
Executive Director

On November 9, 2012, the Texas Wesleyan Journal of Real Property Law will seek to address this question when it hosts the symposium: Securing Water Supplies for the Future: Risks, Challenges, and Opportunities. The one-day event will focus on legal and policy issues related to local, regional, and national water scarcity challenges. Essays and papers presented at the symposium will be published in the Journal’s spring 2013 issue. For more information about our symposium, please visit http://bit.ly/TWUWaterLaw

Thousands of endangered sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico and the U.S. Atlantic coast are dying unnecessarily as they become entangled in shrimp nets and ultimately drown. However, turtle excluder devices (TED) could prevent these deaths from happening. The National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS) has submitted a rule to the Federal Register proposing that all shrimp nets must use a TED. In order to ensure that the final decision on this rule protects the turtles, public support must be highly visible. A public comment period is currently open on regulations.gov in which you can comment on the NMFS’s proposed rule (http://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=NOAA-NMFS-2012-0095-0001) and share why you think this initiative is important. Another way to show support is by signing your name to the letter that the Sea Turtle Restoration Project will submit to regulations.gov before the public comment period ends on July 9, 2012 (http://action.seaturtles.org/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=10633). Michael Barnette of the NMFS is also accepting comments concerning this proposed rule (see address below).

Finally, a brief respite from the heat!  Today we finally welcome temperatures that ring in below 100 for the first time in five days—the high for today is a merciful 99.  It may not be for us as Texans, but others would consider that pretty hot.  These high temperatures that come with our scorching Texas summers strain the state’s primary power grid, not to mention our wallets. 

Summer has officially begun—we have welcomed in Austin’s first triple digit heat wave of the year, with temperatures projected to spike as high as 106° F through the rest of the week. Don’t be surprised if coming years bring heat waves like this earlier and earlier in the summer due to climate change. Extreme heat is one of the most obvious effects of global warming and it is one that most Texans are likely all too familiar with. Average temperatures in our state are expected to increase between 4.5° and 9° F by 2080, according to a 2009 report from the United States Global Change Research Program. This hotter weather poses a threat to both human and environmental health and security. In 2011, the Texas Department of State Health Services recorded over 150 heat-related deaths in the state. As heat waves become more frequent and severe, the instances of heat stress and stroke will rise.

 | by
Luke Metzger
Executive Director

Welcome to our new website! I hope this will serve as an even better resource for you to keep up to date about Environment Texas' work. But we're always looking to make it even better. Please let me know what you think and what else you'd like to see on the site.