Good Results for Environment in 80th Legislature

Media Contacts

Environment Texas

AUSTIN- The 80th session drew to a close with a number of important victories on parks, renewable energy and energy efficiency, water and electronic waste. “All in all, it was a pretty good session for the environment,” said Environment Texas Director Luke Metzger. “Parks funding was tripled, energy efficiency was doubled, new protections for rivers and streams were established, and computer manufacturers are now required to recycle electronic waste. These victories are the result of many years of work by Texas’ environmental community and we can all be proud of the progress made this session.”
The Legislature did take some steps backwards, by creating new incentives for coal and nuclear plants and by supporting the creation of reservoirs that could wipe out critical natural areas. They also had a number of missed opportunities, failing to take action to stop or limit the “coal rush”, to curb global warming pollution, or to create incentives for solar or biomass power.
Parks Funding: The budget for state and local parks was tripled, allowing the parks department to re-hire laid off park rangers, rebuild decaying facilities, re-open campgrounds and acquire natural areas to create a new state park. 
Energy Efficiency: HB 3693 (Straus) doubles the state’s goal for utility efficiency programs (from 10% of the growth in demand to 20%) and set up a mechanism that could allow the goal to increase to 50% of growth in demand. The bill also:

  • Requires state agencies to purchase Energy Star high efficiency products (when it is cost-effective) and more efficient lighting.
  • Require school districts to use efficient lighting
  • Require housing built with public money (e.g. low income housing projects) to implement efficiency and conservation programs
  • Allows the State Energy Conservation Office to update statewide building codes
  • Requires all political subdivisions, institutions of higher learning and state agencies to establish a goal to reduce electric use by 5% a year for six years.
  • Allows homeowners with solar panels to get credit from their utility for excess electricity put back on to the grid

Renewable Energy: HB 1090 repealed the notorious “section M’ which threatened to derail Texas’ voluntary renewable energy market.

Water conservation and in-stream flows: SB 3 (Averitt) improves water conservation efforts and helps ensure adequate levels of water in Texas rivers, streams and estuaries to protect wildlife. More at:

Electronic waste: HB 2714 (Bonnen) requires computer manufacturers to provide free recycling for discarded computers. More at:


Coal: HB 3732 creates new incentives for “clean coal”

Nukes: HB 1386 creates new incentives for the construction of new nuclear plants.

Reservoirs: SB 3 designates several “unique reservoir” sites, including the proposed Fastrill reservoir, which threatens the newly formed Neches River National Wildlife Refuge.

Missed Opportunities

Coal Rush: Many bills were filed to stop or limit the rush the permitting of new coal plants, but no action was taken.

Solar Rebates: Legislation by Rep. Garnet Coleman and Sen. Rodney Ellis to create rebates failed to pass.

Global Warming: Legislation to study global warming and ways to reduce emissions failed to pass.

Air Toxics: Legislation to regulate cancer-causing toxic chemicals failed to pass.