The incredible growth of solar and wind energy and battery storage in Texas is one of the climate movement’s great success stories. Unfortunately, as I told The Guardian, at the Texas Legislature “we are seeing a rush of these bills attempting to wind the clock back on renewables…Texas is going to be critical if the U.S. is going to get to net zero emissions, so we should take this threat seriously.”
Thankfully, despite over a dozen bills filed to add crippling new fees and permitting requirements to renewable energy or even to outright ban it, the Legislature ended last month with the worst measures having failed to pass.
Environment Texas was proud to play a role in that victory, working alongside legislative allies, the renewable energy industry and clean energy advocates to prevent the end as we know it of wind and solar energy development in Texas.
Given Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s antipathy to renewable energy and dominance over the State Senate, we expected anti-renewable energy legislation to easily and quickly pass out of that chamber. So we focused our attention on the State House of Representatives, especially the State Affairs committee.
With groups like Conservative Texans for Energy Innovation building support with lawmakers in more rural parts of the state and Environment Texas organizing in our biggest cities, we were part of a bi-partisan, statewide coalition working to defeat attacks on wind and solar power.
I’m pleased to share some of the results of Environment Texas’ work:
Lawn signs to Save Texas Renewables
Let's protect solar and wind energy in Texas
And that’s not it. Our call team generated over 350 phone calls from constituents to the offices of key legislative committee members. We helped secure media coverage, including on NPR and in The Hill, Austin American-Statesman, Dallas Morning News, Inside Climate News, and Earther. We recruited over 90 VIPs, including Houston and Dallas city council members and U.S. Congresswoman Jasmine Crockett to urge legislators to oppose attacks on renewables.
In the end, our strategy worked. While lawmakers did increase transmission fees for wind and solar and kick renewables out of the state’s economic development program, the House State Affairs committee fended off measures that would have ground renewable energy development to a halt.
The forecast for renewable energy development in Texas remains sunny.
Executive Director, Environment Texas
As the executive director of Environment Texas, Luke is a leading voice in the state for clean air, clean water, clean energy and open space. Luke has led successful campaigns to win permanent protection for the Christmas Mountains of Big Bend; to compel Exxon, Shell and Chevron Phillips to cut air pollution at three Texas refineries and chemical plants; and to boost funding for water conservation, renewable energy and state parks. The San Antonio Current has called Luke "long one of the most energetic and dedicated defenders of environmental issues in the state." He has been named one of the "Top Lobbyists for Causes" by Capitol Inside, received the President's Award from the Texas Recreation and Parks Society for his work to protect Texas parks, and was chosen for the inaugural class of "Next Generation Fellows" by the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law at UT Austin. Luke, his wife, son and daughters are working to visit every state park in Texas.