AUSTIN—Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Hank Gilbert unveiled a series of bold, common sense proposals addressing energy and the environment on Wednesday in Austin.
With Lady Bird Lake and the skyline of one of America’s ten greenest cities as his backdrop, Gilbert called for a statewide plan to address global warming, energy conservation, and renewable energy as well as a complete overhaul of environmental regulation in Texas.
“Environmental regulation in Texas is a maze that the average citizen has great difficulty navigating,” Gilbert said. “Depending upon the particular problem, an average person could be bounced back and forth between the Texas Commission On Environmental Quality and the Texas Railroad Commission several times before ultimately giving up. That must end,” he said.
Gilbert outlined a plan under which environmental regulation and oversight from several state agencies including the Texas Railroad Commission are combined with those of the Texas Commission On Environmental Quality under a new agency, the Texas Environmental Commission.
“The New Texas Environmental Commission will centralize environmental regulation and natural resource and energy conservation under one umbrella. This is the kind of common sense policy we need to protect our land, air, and water,” he continued.
In addition, Gilbert called for the issuance of a statewide plan to address global warming, energy conservation, and renewable energy.
“In the early 1990s, a joint legislative committee warned our state about the threats of global warming. To date, we still have no cohesive plan to address the issue of greenhouse gasses threatening the atmosphere over Texas. It is time to stop kicking the can down the road and address the problem now,” he said.
In terms of energy, Gilbert called for an elected Commissioner to head the Public Utility Commission and for increasing the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard.
“Under current law, our state has a target of requiring electric providers to produce 10,000 mega-watts of energy from renewable sources by 2025. Already in Texas we have over 7,000 mega-watts of generation capacity coming from renewable energy. I’m calling for mandating that energy providers generate 20 percent of our state’s power from renewable energy by 2020,” Gilbert said.
Gilbert’s proposal also includes:
- Consolidating utility regulation under the Public Utility Commission of Texas. (currently natural gas regulation rests with the Texas Railroad Commission)
- Overhauling existing statutes and administrative regulations to hold polluters and regulated industries accountable to Texans.
- Incentives for increasing wind, solar, and biomass capacity.
- Raising energy efficiency standards for residential and commercial construction.
- Requiring the establishment of state energy standards for various appliances.
- Property tax incentives for homeowners who install solar panels on their homes, and eliminating the sales tax on the purchase and instillation of solar panels.
- Giving businesses a franchise tax deduction for the cost of solar and wind energy systems designed to power their businesses.
- Giving homeowners and businesses property tax exemptions for the appraised value of solar, wind, or biomass energy systems.
- Retooling the Texas Enterprise Fund to focus on bringing green jobs to Texas.
- Retooling the Texas Emerging Technology Fund to focus on helping develop new green energy and environmentally sound technologies.
- Requiring all existing coal power plants to adopt cleaner technologies by 2017.
- Adopting strict standards for mercury and other pollutants from existing power plants and factories.
- A moratorium on permits for new coal power plants unless their emissions are captured and stored.
- Requiring cement production plants to reduce mercury emissions by 80 percent by 2014.
- Strict standards for underground disposal wells (commonly called injection wells).
- Mandatory use of purification technology for drilling waste to be disposed of through injection wells by 2020.
- A Surface Owner Protection Act.
- A constitutional amendment requiring all revenues generated by the Sporting Goods Sales Tax as well as other user fees and taxes presently dedicated to the park system to be so allocated.
- $150 million be allotted for the acquisition and development of new state parks and for the addition of land to existing state parks.
“We must protect our natural resources and significantly reduce pollution Texas’ carbon footprint. It’s time to go green, Texas,” Gilbert concluded.
Go Green, Texas
BY THE NUMBERS
Texas is the worst air polluter in the nation. (SOURCE: Congressional Quarterly’s State Fact Finder 2007)
Texas releases more volatile organic compounds into the air than any other state in the country. (SOURCE: ScoreCard.org )
Texas releases more toxic chemicals into water than any other state in the nation. (SOURCE: ScoreCard.org)
Texas ranks fifth in the nation in terms of toxic chemicals released into the air. (SOURCE: ScoreCard.org)
Texas releases more cancer-causing carcinogens into the air than any other state in the U.S. (SOURCE: ScoreCard.org)
Texas ranks seventh out of the fifty states in terms of the number of cancer-causing carcinogens released into water. (SOURCE: ScoreCard.org)