Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

Agreement Reached Between Texas Government and Rice Professor

Photo by flickr user OneEighteen/Creative Commons

A tanker cruises across Galveston Bay.

In October, word got out of a scuffle between scientists and the Texas government. On one side, Rice University oceanographer John Anderson, who submitted an article on rising sea levels for a report to be published by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) on Galveston Bay. On the other, the TCEQ itself, which didn’t like some of what Anderson had to say, and excised his references to climate change and human impacts.

An agreement has now been reached between the two parties that will result in Anderson’s article being published in the commission’s report.

It’s not immediately clear what the compromises are between Anderson and the commission due to a confidentiality agreement.

After the TCEQ excised Anderson’s references to climate change in October, he released the edits the commission made to his article, and that led to the commission removing his article from the report entirely. The commission was criticized for silencing scientific warnings on climate change, and an online petition was taken up by a fifth-grade teacher in San Antonio at change.org, asking the commission to release the un-edited version of Anderson’s article. Commission spokesperson, Andy Saenz, said at the time, “why would we include things we don’t agree with? That’s ridiculous.

The petition seems to have been a success. It appears that both sides are happy with the outcome. The TCEQ says in a statement that “we are pleased that the project can move forward and this scientific report can add to the body of knowledge on this unique and precious part of Texas.” Anderson told the the Houston Chronicle in his own statement that he was “pleased” and that his “research found that the rising sea levels in Galveston Bay are due to climate changes that are caused in part by humans. It is important that people have access to my complete scientific findings.” The teacher behind the petition, Mobi Warren, said in a press release from change.org that she is “gratified that Texas officials heard the public outcry from the petition and science has won the day.”

The report is believed to be on its way to the printers. Once it’s released, it should be more clear how the two sides compromised.

Here is Anderson’s article with the edits initially made by the commission:


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