February 2, 2009
Let’s begin this week with an announcement.
This morning, I’ll file a bill to strengthen Texas businesses in a 21st Century energy economy while also reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that trigger climate change.
Under my bill, the state would create a Texas Center for Sustainable Business to lead the drive for modern, clean, renewable power. This effort will make Texas an energy leader this century the way we were in the last one.
But just as importantly, the bill calls for an action plan to cut carbon dioxide emissions – the primary cause of global warming – and give Texas a much stronger role in this worldwide effort.
It’s a major piece of my agenda not just to cut back on pollution, but also to bolster the economy. The opportunities in 21st Century energy are just as great as the climate change threat is serious, and it’s time to seize them.
As I’ve said before, clean, renewable power represents Texas’ future. We’ve got to embrace it, not fight it.
This climate change plan is the latest in a package of bills and initiatives that I’m pursuing this year. I’ve already filed bills that would:
Over the course of this session, I’ll also fight to free-up money to make homes more energy efficient, cutting power bills for all Texans. And I’ll work to reform the State Energy Conservation Office into a much more effective agency that will manage the Center for Sustainable Business and lead an effort to save taxpayers’ money by making public buildings more efficient.
All of these are significant new efforts – particularly for Texas, which leads the nation and all but eight of the world’s countries in the amount of carbon dioxide we put in the air.
I’m under no illusions that it’s going to be easy – particularly as some legislators use the budget crunch we’re in as an all-purpose excuse to do nothing about so many of our challenges.
But the truth is that the time is long past to take bold action on this issue. Texas’ leaders can’t keep making excuses, denying reality, and rattling hollow sabers as the rest of the world marches into the 21st Century.
This is about the environment, sure. But it’s also about the economy and the future prosperity of this state. We have a unique chance to solve current challenges and lay a foundation for future prosperity. We have to seize it – today.
I guess if one assumes that when it comes to power, the wheel in the sky doesn’t keep on turnin’, then it probably makes sense to defend the past like it’s the future.
The truth is that Texas, fueled by tremendous oil and gas reserves, took on a lot of responsibility for powering America through the 20th Century. A lot of folks are proud of that legacy, and they should be.
But the past is the past. A landslide majority of the world’s scientists has convinced policy makers in many states, Washington DC, and around the world that we need to worry about this. Both Presidential candidates last year promised programs to change the way we generate electricity. The world’s energy companies are diving into clean, renewable, 21st Century power and scaling back polluting facilities like coal plants.
And foreign oil, dirty coal, and other fossil fuels are no more the future of the Texas economy than Journey is the future of Rock ‘N’ Roll.
There are a lot of terrific bills to ease Texas toward a viable future of 21st Century power. Just last week, Senator Kip Averitt filed a great, far-reaching bill to cut down on air pollution and pick up the state’s economy.
It’s an exciting time. We’re looking at a lot of opportunities we’ve never had before.
I really hope that this year, we’ll go get them.
This week, the Lieutenant Governor released the list of committees for this legislative session. My assignments are about what they were last session – I’ll be Vice Chair of the Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee, and I’ll continue to serve on the Business & Commerce, Jurisprudence, and Nominations committees. One change: I’ll also be on the newly formed Economic Development committee.
For a complete list of committee assignments, click here.
Finally, here’s a story on some early preparation that the state needs to do to get ready for the economic stimulus package that Congress and the Obama Administration are now assembling.
I’ve said for a while that Texas needs to be prepared for whatever new work or opportunities come out of this vital effort to recharge our economy. Last month, I sent a letter to the Legislative Budget Board urging the agency to review state agencies and programs that might be affected by the stimulus and to get ready for any new federal resources that come Texas’ way.
This is an essential development that could make a big difference to struggling middle-class Texans. We’ve got to be ready for it, and we must not politicize it. I’ll continue watching developments in Washington and at the Capitol to make sure Texas doesn’t miss out on opportunities to help the state and the economy.