Dear Texas Lawmakers: For Our Health, Protect Our Trees! July 18, 2017

Governor Abbott has called the State Legislature back to the State Capitol for a Special Session beginning July 18, 2017. One of the issues on his slated agenda could have detrimental effects on Texans’ health; the governor wants to preempt more than 80 city ordinances designed to protect trees.

Texas trees must be protected.

Trees are important for human health, especially in our time of worsening climate change. According to research, trees help avert $6.8 billion in U.S. health care costs annually, and in 2010, they prevented 850 deaths and 670,000 cases of acute respiratory symptoms. Their pollution-removing health value is highest in urban areas, so city ordinances that protect trees are especially important.

Research conducted by the U.S. Forest Service on Austin’s urban forest shows that trees provide almost $34 million in benefits to the community in air pollution removal, carbon sequestration, and energy savings.

If Governor Abbott gets his way, in-state and out-of-state developers will be free to clear cut every tree—even giant heritage oaks—from project sites. Developers might benefit in the short term, but Texans would suffer higher costs and poorer health for years to come. We must not allow that to happen.

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