For Immediate Release:
Oct. 2, 2017
Public Citizen to Texas House Natural Resources Committee: Climate Polluters Should Pay Their Fair Share of Hurricane Harvey Recovery
AUSTIN, Texas – Texas should require climate polluters to pay their fair share of the Hurricane Harvey recovery effort, Public Citizen will tell Texas lawmakers on Wednesday.
Responding to an interim charge from Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, the House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing at 10 a.m. CDT Wednesday at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston. The hearing will take public testimony on issues related to Hurricane Harvey and flooding in general.
The hearing comes amid a disagreement between Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner about how to fund the Harvey recovery effort. After Turner proposed an unpopular temporary increase in property taxes, the governor allocated $50 million from the state’s disaster relief fund – representing half of the total for the biennium – for Harvey recovery. The governor has not foreclosed the possibility of allocating Rainy Day funds as well, though he has stated that will not happen before the 2019 legislative session.
For Wednesday’s hearing, the committee has asked for strategies to fund efforts to mitigate future flood events.
“Fossil fuel companies have shirked their responsibility for climate change for too long, with some aware for at least 40 years of the role their industry has played,” said Adrian Shelley, director of Public Citizen’s Texas office, who is testifying Wednesday. “Houstonians have paid the cost of the carbon pollution industry’s neglect. It’s time climate polluters pay their fair share.”
The contribution to climate change by carbon polluters, including the fossil fuel industry, worsened Harvey’s impact on Texas. Ninety companies from around the world, mostly from the fossil fuel industry, contributed 57 percent of carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere and approximately 42 to 50 percent of the rise in global mean surface temperature between 1880 and 2010 globally, according to a recent report in the journal Climate Change. Many of those companies have offices in Houston.
According to Dr. Kevin Trenberth with the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research, “The human contribution can be up to 30 percent or so of the total rainfall coming out of the storm. It may have been a strong storm, and it may have caused a lot of problems anyway – but [human-caused climate change] amplifies the damage considerably.”