Texas's legislative session began on January 10th. Stretching roughly five months in odd-numbered years until May 29, elected officials and advocates across Texas will be busy at work passing legislation through the House and Senate and to the desk of Governor Abbott.
Early developments include Speaker of the House Republican Dade Phelan putting the kibosh on efforts to eliminate the practice of appointing minority party members as chairs of some committees. Additionally, Texas finds itself with an unexpected, unprecedented surplus of funds to the tune of $33 billion. Party leaders on both sides of the aisle have cited the shared goal of shoring up Texas infrastructure using some of this surplus money - a reason to be hopeful that real bipartisan progress can be made.
Here are the top efforts and issues that Clean Water Action will be prioritizing. STRENGTH IN NUMBERS WORKS and we can't do it without you! Look for notices throughout this 88th Texas Legislature to take action! to support and oppose bills as they come up for consideration. Strength in numbers has worked for 50+ years to pass critical bills into law such as the original Clean Water Act; we must keep up the work! Read our priority list below and then take action to let your lawmakers know you stand for clean water -and that they should do the same!
Protecting Water: Quantity, Quality, Access, and Habitat
On issues of water quality, Clean Water Action supports:
- Efforts to speed up getting the lead out of drinking water in both homes and schools
- Setting a limit on dangerous PFOA and PFAS “forever chemicals” in drinking water as well as limiting their use and disposal as water pollution prevention
- Providing counties the authority to establish drainage utilities and assess drainage fees to keep that pollution out of our waterways
- Incentivizing alternatives to direct discharge of treated wastewater in the watersheds surrounding pristine streams
- Creating a financing program for nature-based green infrastructure, such as constructed wetlands, rain gardens and green roofs, to reduce runoff pollution
- Requiring new state buildings to be constructed utilizing these green infrastructure elements
Clean Water Action will support legislative efforts to shore up our drinking water systems. Water pipes and treatment plants are often “out of sight, out of mind.” Much like energy efficiency aims to do, just capturing the losses of water in our aging and crumbling pipes can take away much of our demand!
Clean Water Action will advocate to ensure:
- Maximum use of the federal Investment in Infrastructure and Jobs Act funds by appropriating $125 million to the TX Water Development Board (TWDB) for state match in fiscal years 2024 and 2025
- Replenishing the Flood Infrastructure Fund by appropriating at least $394.4 million to TWDB
- Funding to add staff members for TWDB water conservation and water planning
Clean Energy, Clean Air, and Clean Transportation
Clean Water Action will support legislation to:
- Boost utility energy efficiency programs
- Invest in additional transmission lines to bring wind and solar power to our cities
- Support responsible leasing of Texas coastal waters for offshore wind energy production
- Help Texas school districts take advantage of federal funding to purchase electric school buses
Making Polluters Pay
Clean Water Action will continue to advocate for people, not polluters, by supporting legislation to:
- Reduce gas flaring and venting
- Increase bonding requirements to ensure that the oil and gas industry - rather than taxpayers, communities or families - pays the costs of the damage caused by drilling operations
- Increase of maximum daily fines for industrial air pollution violations from $25,000 to $40,000, as recommended by the Texas Sunset Commission
This is a robust list and we will call on your support. Your State Representatives & Senators in Austin will listen when their voters talk. Take action now to let your Texas lawmakers know you share these priorities and check the box to email updates and action alerts as the legislative session progresses. You have the power of the people and we look forward to making our state a beautiful and safe place to live, work, learn, and play.