Grassroots activists are on tour through West Texas next week educating voters about environmental issues leading up to the March 1 primary election. Texas Campaign for the Environment is gathering broad-based support for common sense protections for Texans’ public health and quality of life in response to efforts by state lawmakers last year to attack environmental policies and disable community recourses against pollution, In addressing water shortages, inadequate recycling, hazardous waste and safety concerns regarding the close proximities of some oil and gas operations to neighborhoods, the Texas legislature can and should make the concerns of communities and environmental organizations a higher priority. Unfortunately, several policies passed last year left property owners and local governments with their hands tied, unable to protect residents’ quality of life.
“We believe that communities deserve to have a say in what kind of polluting facilities are built near our homes, schools and local hospitals,” Andrew Dobbs, Legislative Director for Texas Campaign for the Environment, said. “The state legislature should not be the City Council of Texas.”
Door-to-door canvassers with Texas Campaign for the Environment will be generating handwritten letters to candidates for state house district 84 on Saturday, February 20th. This district is important because of a contested primary election between Rep. John Frullo and Republican Jim Landtroop, a former house representative.
Rep. Frullo voted in favor of SB 709 last year which undermined the contested case hearing process for pollution permits, an important tool used by communities to prevent polluting facilities such as landfills from harming their property. Rep. Frullo also supported HB 40, which stripped cities of their power to create safety standards and buffer zones around oil and gas operations.Communities like Lubbock, if they wanted to pass ordinances to limit nuisances from oil and gas operations close to neighborhoods for example, would not be able to pass such an ordinance unless it meets the industry terms, “commercially reasonable.” Some efforts by legislators to limit Texas cities’ ability to reduce plastic bags were also put forth in 2015, but were held back by a bi-partisan coalition for local control that supports cities’ rights to pass single-use bag reduction ordinances or bans.
On recycling, Texas Campaign for the Environment and North Texas Republican, Rep. Rodney Anderson, advocate legislation that will create a producer-run recycling program for single-use batteries. The state legislature can and should do much more to help community run and producer supported recycling efforts thrive to provide jobs in those economies while keeping trash and toxic chemicals out of the landfill.
“Lubbock residents of all political backgrounds can agree on keeping our air and land clean,” Chelsea Crawford, Field Manager for the group, said. “It’s time that state politicians respond to the values of their constituents, and that’s why we look forward to educating voters about the upcoming election and giving them the opportunity to make their voices heard.”
The primary election is March 1 and early voting starts February 16, running through February 26. While Texas Campaign for the Environment does not endorse candidates, they encourage voters to ask all candidates where they stand on the environment, and to vote with the environment in mind.
(News release from Texas Campaign for the Enviroment)