January 17, 2012
And they want the roughly 15,000 new, permanent jobs and nearly $2 billion in economic activity that this investment in our knowledge-based economy has been projected to create.
This community initiative – to build a medical school, 21st Century teaching hospital, uniquely Austin health clinics and research resources that will make Austin a health science center – will build on the Austin way of life that values intelligence, inclusiveness and community well-being.
It’s all part of the process for achieving my 10 Goals in 10 Years, which represent a transformative investment in our health, neighborhoods and economy.
If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll take a moment right now to sign up here to be a part of this vital community effort.
This was the question I put before the Senate Business and Commerce Committee last week for a hearing on, in part, the state’s power supply. There were a couple of good articles about the hearing you can find here and here.
Nearly 40 percent of Texas’ river and lake water is needed to generate our electricity. As things stand, the state is already projected to fall below recommended power reserves before new power plants could come on-line. A long-running water shortage, obviously, could make this bad problem even worse.
(By the way, this capacity problem shows exactly why Texas needs a long-range energy plan. I’ve filed bills that would start the process for writing such a plan, but they’ve never even been given hearings in the legislature. I also asked the Public Utility Commission last week to reconsider its decision not to create more opportunities for solar and other renewable power projects that could help fortify the state’s power grid without relying so heavily on our water supply. But that’s a big topic for another time.)
If there’s any good news here, it’s the quietly growing awareness at the Capitol that the water plan isn’t the sort of document we can just throw on a shelf and ignore.
Folks are beginning to wake up – finally – to the stark consequences for failing to act.
Think of it this way: The population of Texas is projected to double in the next 50 years or so. But our basic amount of water will, at best, remain about where it is now.
So how do we spread the same amount of water among twice as many people? The water plan suggests about $53 billion (over about 50 years) in projects and strategies. Unfortunately, those in control of the state haven’t funded the plan in a way that begins to recognize the size of this challenge.
And the costs of doing nothing are back-breaking. Right now, the water plan says, Texas is losing more than $11 billion in annual income due to water shortages. And if we fail to prepare for future growth and droughts? Then the losses jump to $115 billion – per year – by 2060.
Already, a harsh, historic drought is strangling many parts of this state. Local governments and water suppliers are scrambling for strategies to meet our most basic needs – for our economy as well as our day-to-day lives – should this drought continue (as many predict it will).
I’ll be talking more in coming months about legislation and strategies to help the state build out the water plan and prepare for its future. Filling out this approach – and passing it through the legislature – will require a lot of hard work and tough choices by a whole lot of different people in every part of this state.
But the principles and values of any meaningful solution should be clear to everyone:
It probably goes without saying that water will be one of my most important priorities as I prepare for next year’s legislative session. But it also should be among the top priorities for every legislator and every Texan.
After all, excuses will mean nothing to our children and grandchildren – particularly in the face of a long-foreseen catastrophe.
Luckily, we still have time to act. Let’s not waste it.