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Environment: Finding Common Ground

Making arguments green in more ways than one

By Lee Nichols, Fri., March 4, 2011

State parks all across Texas face budget cuts.
State parks all across Texas face budget cuts.
Photo by Jana Birchum

The environment has never been a front-burner issue for the Texas Legislature, and when the mantra this session is "cut, cut, cut," there's no reason to expect progressive initiatives. Environmentalists' best hopes are on pushing initiatives that can be packaged as pro-business. Hence groups like Environment Texas issue position papers stating, "Texas has what it takes to become the national leader in solar power. ... But Texas hasn't capitalized on our natural advantages and, as a result, other states are luring solar manufacturers away. Environment Texas ... [s]upports creating a statewide incentive program to install solar on a million rooftops in the next decade."

It will be interesting to see if groups like ET and its compatriots in the Sierra Club can convince conservative lawmakers to go against the suburbs on issues like solar installations. Some homeowners associations ban solar panels on rooftops (because aesthetics are more important than clean air), but the enviros are wisely choosing conservative rhetoric: Not allowing solar installations, they say, is an infringement on property rights by quasi-governmental bodies. One such bill that would stop HOAs from enforcing such bans is even authored by veteran GOP Sen. Troy Fraser.

Of course, like everyone else, enviros are fighting cuts. The same statement from ET says the group "[o]pposes appropriating revenues generated by the Sporting Goods Sales Tax for purposes other than the parks system." Unfortunately, legislators this session are scrambling to find green, not be green.

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