Health and Environmental Advocates from across Texas Urge Legislators to Protect What We Love: Our Health. Our Air. Our Water. Our Land.
Concerned Texans from east, west, north, and south Texas converged at the state Capitol on Tuesday to urge Legislators to pass laws to help create a healthy future and clean jobs in Texas.
“The people who’ve come to Austin today – the moms and dads, city dwellers and generations-long land-owners are united today at the state Capitol protecting what we love – our health, our air, our water, and our land,” said Lize Burr with the Alliance for a Clean Texas (ACT).
“We are concerned by health threats from gas ‘fracking’ and coal plant pollution; we’re here to protect water quality from unregulated sprawl and to make sure that Texas has enough water for people and the environment into the future; Texans are at the Capitol today because we believe in the solutions that are already available and that help create jobs – water conservation, clean energy – particularly more solar power, parks for people to play in, and recycling. Most of all, we’re protecting our rights to be involved in the decisions that affect our health and lives.”
This past fall, over a thousand people participated at Sunset Town Hall gatherings about the legislative Sunset Review of the agencies most involved in environmental decision-making – the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Railroad Commission. On December 15, concerned Texans from over thirty cities across the state came to Austin and spoke at the Sunset Commission’s Public Hearing. They are joined by neighbors, family-members and friends at the Capitol today supporting legislation on: Air, Clean Energy, Land, Waste & Recycling, Water, and State Government & the Environment.
“In Matagorda County, we know what coal plant pollution in north east Texas has done to the health and environment and we want a better future with cleaner air for all Texans. Doctors in this region are organized and vocal about the dangers of coal plant pollution – the mercury that causes developmental delays, the ozone smog and particulate matter that causes asthma, other respiratory illnesses and heart disease. The Clean Air Act gives us the right to breathe healthy air and the right to participate in the decisions that affect how clean our air will be. The White Stallion coal plant proposal is a threat to our health, environment, and economy and we feel that our concerns were not heard. We want laws that protect our health.”
ACT coordinator Lize Burr spoke about citizen involvement in State Government environmental issues; Esther McElfish with the North Central Texas Communities Alliance spoke at the press event about air and water impacts from natural gas drilling and fracturing or ‘fracking’ in the Barnett Shale of north Texas; Laura Huffman with the Nature Conservancy of Texas spoke about the need for land conservation to protect water quality; Myron Hess with National Wildlife Federation spoke about water conservation and environmental flows, or maintaining enough water in Texas rivers and streams to keep our bays and estuaries healthy; and Zac Trahan with Texas Campaign for the Environment spoke about the economic and environmental benefits of waste recycling. Cyrus Reed with Sierra Club spoke in Spanish about the ACT priorities.
Tom ‘Smitty’ Smith with Public Citizen spoke about Clean Energy Solutions —
“Taking care of the environment is a great way to build the Texas economy and create jobs. With the powerful solar energy resource we have in Texas, our state is ripe for leading in solar power jobs. Because ranchers and farmers, churches, business people and environmentalists got together and lobbied for laws to promote wind power in 1999 – we now lead the nation in wind plants- and have created over 3,000 full time long term jobs. We can do the same by building much more solar power in our state. A study by Austin’s municipal utility shows that construction of just one 100 megawatt solar plant could create nearly 300 new jobs and add about $1 billion to the regional economy by 2020. Texas can benefit from solar policies and investments— it’s a good economic development strategy.”
After the press event today, ACT will open a photo exhibit. “Protecting What We Love: Our Health. Our Air. Our Water. Our Land” will be on display in the Capitol Extension 2 hallway from March 14-18 and again April 18-22.
ACT is comprised of more than 20 environmental, public interest, consumer rights and religious organizations collaborating with numerous other local groups in cities and towns around the state to improve public health, quality of life and the environment in Texas by working for change at the regulatory and legislative levels.
For more information, see http://www.acttexas.org/
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