Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

Bill Aims to Prepare Texas for Climate Change

Photo by Bob Daemmrich

Houston Democrat Rodney Ellis introduced a bill to prepare Texas for global climate change.

*This article originally referred to Rodney Ellis as a State Representative, which is incorrect. He is a State Senator. We regret the error. 

In a state like Texas, where much of the political leadership still disagrees with the scientific consensus on global climate change, you might call Rodney Ellis a dreamer.

You might even say his new bill doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in an unusually hot Texas summer of passing.

But Ellis, a Democratic State Senator* from Houston, is introducing legislation to prepare Texas for the effects of global warming. And he seems unconcerned with the odds.

“A lot of places are moving towards adaptation now. Instead of arguing about whether the climate is getting warmer or not,” he told StateImpact Texas.

Senate Bill 78 aims mandates state agencies to devise climate adaptation plans. They would include a review of what climate change means for each agency’s mission, and steps for agencies to fulfill their mandates during anticipated climate change. Agencies listed in the bill include the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the Public Utility Commission and the Department of Agriculture.

“I think that I’m going to get some support from agriculture people who increasingly realize that crop and livestock will be increasingly challenged,” Ellis said.

“Even if you are a climate change denier that’s OK. I think you would still agree that its worth having a dialogue. Putting plans in place. It won’t cost that much,” he added.

Ellis believes people will become more receptive to proposals like his, as sectors of the state economy feel the effects of rising temperatures rising sea levels and changing rainfall patterns.


  • I noticed several years ago that most climate change reports and scientific papers use a less than realistic emission scenarios in their calculations. Since these emissions are long lived, this has led to a deepening concern about the climate situation and it’s impacts today, in my lifetime, now.

    This important talk by Dr. Anderson at this year’s Cabot Lecture clearly points the finger at scientists for not accurately reporting how bad the climate situation is. He also explains why we cannot meet the 2 degree C (3.8 F) target set by the world’s government and its impacts on us today. His talk is timely in light of this week’s paper from the World Bank that found:

    “Even with the current mitigation pledges fully implemented, there is roughly a 20% likelihood of exceeding 4°C by 2100. If they are not met, warming of 4°C could occur as early as the 2060s.”

    Globally, we are nowhere close to meeting our mitigation pledges and long lived CO2 emissions continue to accumulate in the atmosphere at an accelerating rate. It’s like civilization has collectively said: Fuch it. Dr. Anderson is very animated and I think you will find it enlightening.


  • Matt Owens

    I follow climate data very closely and do some research of my own as the editor of a small news and analysis blog on climate change. Lately, my attention has been centered on water balance in the U.S., and I have to say, this proposal is good for what it’s worth, but might just be a dollar short and a day late. I guess you have to start somewhere…and at least this will get people thinking about the issue, so perhaps the farmers and ranchers won’t be as shocked when they finally file for bankruptcy. For anyone interested, the site I edit is: http://climatewatch.typepad.com/

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