Texas has a tradition of decentralized decision-making. This is why Texas politicians have been so opposed to federal interventions, and it’s why we have a home rule amendment to the Texas Constitution. Cities pay many of the costs for pollution, so they need the ability to prevent it—especially if the state refuses to act. Unfortunately there has been a nation-wide effort on the part of corporate polluters, their lobbyists, and their political allies to undo local governments’ ability to act on these issues. That’s happening here in Texas and we need to act to stop them!
Single-use plastic bags are a serious problem for Texas. We use hundreds of millions of them a year, and many of them become litter—even bags you thought you threw away responsibly can blow out of trucks or away from landfills and enter the environment. They kill livestock and wildlife, harm local infrastructure, and look terrible. A dozen Texas cities have taken action to ban or restrict these bags, but new lawsuits have threatened these ordinances. Advocates for local solutions on bag pollution will be working to clarify Texas law on this topic and to fight efforts to undo all our progress on reducing bag pollution.
A few cities have taken action to protect their oldest, most beautiful, and most important trees. These trees provide vital benefit to the environment and economy of these communities and finding a way to protect them from overdevelopment is crucial. Last session an Austin-area lawmaker filed a bill to void these local protections. We want to make sure local governments retain the right to protect heritage trees.
Oil and Gas
Last session the Texas oil and gas industry succeeded in wiping out most of our important local protections on oil and gas production. This session we will see what new protections we can secure for local governments that choose to adopt them, we will make a stand against the power grab from last session, and we will fight any additional attempts to roll back what we still have.
Sometimes not even local governments will act to protect our rights and interests. In many Texas cities citizens can then use petitions to put important issues on the ballot directly and the people can do an end run on their politicians. Last session there was an attempt to essentially erase this right by putting huge new burdens on the process. We will fight this effort and ensure that Texas voters have a voice in how their cities are run.
(Photo "Plastic" by User Foodmandoonian used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).)