Environmental Vaues: Transportation

February 11th, 2009

This legislative session, the Texas Department of Transportation is up for “sunset” review. Additionally, a number of legislators will bring proposals to change the way TxDOT operates. That means that Texas conservationists have opportunities to influence elected officials to increase TxDOT’s accountability with regard to environmental issues.

Here are some environmental values that should become priorities for TxDOT:

The Trans-Texas Corridor, if built, even partially, would be disastrous land use policy, and irreparably harm Texas wildlife habitat, farms, ranches and open space. Authority to establish and operate the Trans-Texas Corridor should be repealed. (Rep. Leibowitz and others have proposed just this in House Bill 11).

As many other states do, Texas should require higher fuel efficiency and emissions standards in new cars – adopting the standards of a state like California. Senator Ellis (SB 119) and Rep. Strama (HB 776) and others are advancing legislation on this front.

Texas transportation agencies need reform in order to better protect the environment and to promote clean air. For example, environmentalists working for TxDOT should be accountable to environmental staff at TxDOT headquarters, rather than to local district directors and managers. An expert on “Smart Growth” policies should be added to the staff of the Texas Transportation Commission. Furthermore, neither now nor ever should TxDOT begin acquiring land for roadway expansions until the final completion of a full environmental impact study.

Want to talk to your legislator about transit and transportation issues? Or other environmental issues? Join the Alliance for a Clean Texas lobby day next week! Learn more here and sign up now.