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Members of the Alliance for a Clean Texas (ACT) coalition at our ACT Lobby Day on April 11, 2023,
gathered to educate our respective members on a suite of bills by our champions on
environmental, clean energy, democracy, and public health issues.

Texas Legislature’s 88th Session:
Know When to Hold ‘Em, Know When to Fold ‘Em

The 88th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature was marked by fierce infighting between our House and Senate, controlled both indirectly by Governor Greg Abbott’s wishes and directly by Lt. Governor Dan Patrick’s gavel on the Senate side. Governor Abbott vetoed myriad Senate bills as “payback” to the Senate for resisting his agenda to cut property taxes. The final hours of the session were dedicated to the impeachment of our Attorney General, Ken Paxton, on charges including bribery, dereliction of duty, disregard of official duty, and obstruction of justice. While it appears truly the wild west here, there are numerous dedicated public servants who show up and do their jobs well. It is to them that we credit a few “wins'' for the environment in this 88th session.

First, the “good”:

  • Senate Bill (SB) 1289 streamlines permitting for beneficial onsite water treatment and reuse for small sites such as one building or a campus of buildings;
  • House Bill (HB) 1699 provides for the Public Utility Commission (PUC) to create a framework allowing for renewable energy generators to aggregate energy generated by distributed participants such as homes, business solar, battery storage, etc.;
  • A dozen or so bills filed that would have set back renewable energy generation, transport and delivery, or capacity development were headed off, specifically an amendment to the reauthorization of the Texas Public Utility Commission which would have required a new type of “special”, widely limiting, permit for wind farms and solar farms all across Texas;
  • In a win for transparency and public notification, Senate Bill (SB) 365 passed, requiring electric utilities to give notice to all landowners within 300 feet of a proposed transmission substation;

Next, the “bad”:

  • SB 2627 provides subsidies for new gas power plants;
  • SB 1017 prohibits cities from regulating diesel and gas fueled lawn equipment;
  • SB 784 prohibits cities from regulating greenhouse gas emissions;
  • SB 833 prohibits insurance companies from factoring in environmental, social, and governance (ESG) scores in underwriting and ratemaking decisions;
  • Governor Abbott vetoed SB 2010 which would have improved enforcement and monitoring of the energy market to better protect consumers.

And Now, the “ugly”:

  • SB 471 gives TCEQ the ability to ignore complaints against facilities believed to be causing a public health nuisance;
  • HB 2127, known as the “Super pre-emption” bill, unfortunately made it through to be signed by the Governor. This is a far-reaching bill which blocks cities from adopting nearly any regulations that go further than state law, including on environmental issues, but also issues including stopping puppy-breeding operations, granting construction professionals water breaks, and myriad local control issues;
  • HB 5 reinstated Chapter 313, Subsidies for Polluters, who will not have to pay taxes into their local school districts. This not only incentivizes polluting industries to settle here, but adds to community pollution burdens, while excluding renewable energy businesses from receiving the benefit. A real lose-lose for Texans.
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