Why I Joined the League

July 29th, 2008

The environment is where we all meet; where all have a mutual interest; it is the one thing all of us share. It is not only a mirror of ourselves, but a focusing lens on what we can become.

– Lady Bird Johnson

Hi y’all. I’m James Canup, the new director of the Texas League of Conservation Voters. I wanted to take some time today to introduce myself to you, and to tell you some of the plans we’re working on here at the League.

I joined the League because I believe we have an opportunity — at this time, in this state — to begin to turn the tide away from the old time Texas politics of environmental destruction toward a new politics of environmental accountability. Texans need and deserve leaders who will stand up for clean air, clean water and clean energy. We need elected officials who will protect access to public lands, and who will fund our state parks and wildlife programs.

You know the problems we face – Houston has the worst air pollution in the nation. Dallas/Fort Worth’s air quality isn’t much better. We don’t spend enough money to maintain our state parks, and we’re rushing headlong toward dirty, polluting energy production. At the same time, there are clear rays of hope. Texas is #1 in wind energy production, and just this month a Texas oil billionaire announced that he is investing his money in wind energy. Dozens of Texas mayors worked together last year to stop the permitting of new dirty coal plants, and few if any Texan leaders can continue to legitimately believe that climate change – global warming – is a myth. Texans across the political spectrum are realizing that our environment is at risk and that elected officials have a duty to protect it.

The Texas League of Conservation Voters is ramping up to confront these situations.

  • Our Political Committee has begun the process of assessing the current crop of candidates for the state legislature. We’re meeting with the candidates, asking them about their commitment to environmental priorities. We’ll make endorsements and, in key races where we can make a real difference, investments of dollars and other resources. (And I hope you’ll let me know the candidates you think will be true to the environment and who, with our help, have a chance to win.)
  • We’re creating a brand-new website for which will include a better blog, new ways to take action and get involved, and we’ll use email as a means to connect in meaningful ways with Texans statewide. We’re removing every barrier to involvement and have high hopes that hundreds of Texans will take a stand for the environment through our new website. (And blog readers will be among the first to know when our new site goes live in the coming weeks!)
  • We’re embarking on an ambitious strategic planning process which will tell us how to position ourselves to make the most difference over the next five critical years. (And you can tell us how you think our organization should grow and evolve over the coming years.)
  • And we’re reaching out to everyone interested in working for a cleaner Texas. That includes our traditional partners in the environmental movement, and it also includes non-traditional potential allies such as pro-conservation conservatives, hunting and fishing aficionados, ranchers and others. As Texas becomes larger and more diverse, we must sustain dialogs with new communities of support, including Texas’ future Latino majority. (And you’ll hopefully help us spread the good news and connect with Texans who can support our mission and goals.)

Your continued support and involvement are critical to our efforts. I hope that you will let me know how we’re doing, how you think we should focus our limited resources, and how we can grow to obtain more resources. I hope you’ll be an ambassador for our organization, helping me introduce the League to Texans who should be standing with us. And I hope you’ll continue giving generously to us — especially in advance of this November’s elections.

I’ll close today with another quote from Lady Bird Johnson. “As I look back across a span of more than seven decades,” she said, “I’m grateful for the joy that nature has given me and for the lifetime of experiences that led me to believe that I might repay a part of the debt I’ve incurred for beauty enjoyed.”

That’s my commitment for the Texas League of Conservation Voters, and my challenge to you: to express our gratitude for the joy of nature by working to assure that everyone can enjoy it tomorrow. Help make environmental protection a true Texas value. Stand with us today by continuing your generous support, by advocating in support of pro-conservation candidates and in opposition to anti-conservation candidates, and by voting for the environment in each and every election.