Seventeen Democrats in the Texas House launched a climate, environment and energy caucus this week with one simple goal: to talk about climate change at the Texas Capitol, where conversations on reducing emissions of greenhouse gases have been sidelined for years.
Led by state Rep. Erin Zwiener, D-Driftwood, the caucus includes Democrats from major cities across the state. During a press conference Wednesday, each spoke about a host of greenhouse gas-reducing strategies they’d like to accomplish — from removing barriers to widespread adoption of electric vehicles, to focusing state environmental cleanup efforts in communities of color to preventing chemical explosions.
But the overarching objective of the caucus this year is more basic.
“We are in violent agreement about the end goal,” said state Rep. Rafael Anchía, D-Dallas, who said he wanted lawmakers to acknowledge the scientific and international consensus on climate change. “We want the Legislature to be led by science on this issue.”
Rep. Ron Reynolds, D-Missouri City, pointed to recent action by the Biden Administration making climate change a national priority and said he wants Texas to be part of that initiative, which could have federal dollars attached.
Caucus members acknowledged that getting Texas Republicans to discuss climate change, which has become a fiercely partisan issue in a state where the oil and gas industry wields huge political clout, remains an uphill battle for Democrats. Zwiener said some Republicans were invited to join the caucus, but declined.
Members pointed out that the Legislature didn’t hold a single hearing on any bill related to climate change during the last session.
The new caucus won’t formally endorse any legislation this session, members said. Instead, they have their sights set on a more modest goal they hope is achievable — holding at least one hearing on climate change.