Even if you consider yourself to be a pretty well-informed person, keeping track of the Texas Legislature can be tough. Our state’s lawmaking body only meets for 140 days every other year and during that time, literally thousands of bills are proposed. Now that all the excitement of the 86th session of the Legislature has ended (their last day was May 27th), we thought we’d share with you a little recap about how things went down for the environment in 2019.
We talked all about the specific bills that passed or died in this year’s legislative session on the latest episode of our partner radio show, Shades of Green. You can listen to the entire podcast, featuring Adrian Shelley (executive director of Public Citizen) and Bay Scoggin (state director for the Texas Public Interest Group) above or download it on iTunes.
1. Environment Texas has already published its biennial legislative scorecard, ranking the environmental performances of all of our state legislators. You can look through the entire list here.
In releasing the scorecard, Luke Metzger (executive director of Environment Texas) said that this legislative session wasn’t actually all that bad for the environment.
“We won some and we lost some, but overall this session turned out to be a net positive for the environment,” said Luke in a press release. “Clean air and parks will get big boosts in funding and we fended off attacks on wind and solar power. On the other hand, oil companies are a step closer to being able to dump their wastewater in our rivers and toughened penalties on peaceful protesters of their pipelines. Still, given the power and influence of big polluters in the Legislature, it could have been worse.”
2. The Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club also posted a recap of this year’s legislative session on their blog, which you can read here.
3. One bill that did pass this legislative session that’s already raised a lot of concern from the environmental community is HB3557, aka the protest bill.
What it does – As the Sierra Club explains, the bill “adds significant criminal penalties to any protest activity which destroys facilities, or impairs or interferes with the operations of ‘critical infrastructure.'”
In this case, “critical infrastructure” means things like oil and gas pipelines and according to several different environmental organizations, makes protests like the ones orchestrated against the Dakota Access Pipeline more difficult.
In an interview with AEN, Jennifer K. Falcon (campaign manager with the Society of Native Nations) explained that for her, this is really a social justice issue, calling the new law an, “over-criminalization of black and brown bodies, who often carry the burden of society’s waste, and are often the ones protesting this industry coming into their communities.”
You can listen to our entire interview with Jennifer below.