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  • An East Texan guide to environmental consciousness

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    By Caleb Fortenberry

    For most Texans and Americans alike, there is a notion that we as individuals should not be concerned with the environment. So, here’s some hard hitting facts to consider before you blow this article off.

    Facts:

    • According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in 2018, there were 292 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) produced in the United States. 69 million tons of 2018’s MSW were recycled. Of the total waste, 146 million tons went to landfills. The rest was either burned, composted, or used in various manners.
    • In 2018, the average household wasted 338 Lbs. of food and 102,953,370 tons were estimated to be wasted in total by industries.
    • The U.S. only recycles 14% of plastics.
    • Microplastics can be found almost everywhere, including in animals, which humans eat. Which means, humans can be eating plastics.
    • According to National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) The sea level has rose 8 inches in the last century, with the last 20 years being twice the rate of the rest of the century. The rates have increased every year.
    • Nonpoint source pollution (pollution that doesn’t come from one specific spot) is the number one reason for pollution in water. Agriculture is the main source.

    MSW pie chartFILE PHOTO Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) pie-chart data according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 2018.

    So, here’s a few tips as to what you can do while living in the sticks of East Texas:

     

    Collect rainwater

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    Many people around here garden or have animals to feed. With our area, water recharge happens quickly. So, it’s safe to save some of that rain. Just make sure if you drink it you’re using the correct filtration. You don’t want to worry about those pesky microbes.

     

    Recycle Glass

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    Around here, it isn’t uncommon to see people having several hundreds of beer cans or bottles. Why not save and recycle them? You can even get money back from the recycling centers. That’s like saving coupons!

     

    Create a compost pile

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    Composting can serve several purposes. For one, it can make great fertilizer for a garden. It can also cut down on your overall waste. No more extra trash bag leftover for pick-up day! If you get creative enough, you can make a hot tub with it too.

     

    Change your lights out with LED light bulbs

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    This will save you money in the long run. Not only will you save more monthly, the bulbs will last much longer, and typically are brighter!

     

    Change your thermostat temp

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    I know it sucks coming home to a cold or hot house after a long day at work, but you could reduce your electric bill drastically by changing your thermostat a few degrees. Or just turn it off all together! You won’t be home anyways.

     

    Avoid plastic

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    If you can, use some old-fashioned dishes. Plastics are everywhere and don’t go away for hundreds of years. So, if you do plan on using plastics, and aren’t planning on recycling, try using Styrofoam. It only takes 50 years to go away, not 500 years.

     

    Don’t waste your food

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    You can avoid wasting food by donating to the Southeast Texas food bank, or other food banks. Another tip is to buy farm market vegetables. Not only does it cut overall carbon emissions since the food is closer to the location of purchase, it also supports local businesses.

    Get into canning. Once you’ve used up the food you want, can the rest! You can save the food for later rather than just throwing it out. However, if its unavoidable, compost the food.

     

    If you want a well, instead of city water, protect your groundwater

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    Dispose of motor oil properly. You can drop this off at several auto parts stores.

    Avoid pesticides if possible. Make sure you check the weather to ensure there will not be any rain several days in advance of spraying pesticides.

    If you have a groundwater well, think about these things. Any kind of chemical can seep into your water, but be especially mindful of herbicides, pesticides, motor oil, mothballs, paints, household cleaners, flea collars, and medicines.

    Think twice about having a well with neighbors that don’t care about your groundwater well. If you live downhill of someone that fertilizes, there’s a good chance your water is going to be full of it.

     

    Get a V6 for your next truck

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    Everyone loves a big truck, but having a V8 for no reason isn’t helping anything. If you tow stuff, we get it, but if you need a truck for basic things around your home, why a have V8? All your doing is wasting gas. Nobody expects you to get a Prius in East Texas, but you should consider finding ways to save money and keep as many pollutants out of the air as possible.

     

    Switch to Solar

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    Solar energy is a great way to break free from the hassle of paying a monthly electric bill. Not only does it lower your carbon footprint, you don’t have to rely on someone else to get your power back up after a storm. Bring on the hurricanes!

     

    Obviously, not everyone is into homesteading, but there is still some stuff you can take away from this. Even if it’s just saving money, it’s still helping the environment. We should all do what we can and maybe, collectively, we can make a difference.

  • Babin slams Equality Act

    BRIAN BABIN Courtesy of Babin.House.Gov Courtesy of Babin.House.Gov Rep. Brian Babin

    By Chris Edwards

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Brian Babin (R-Woodville) took the Equality Act to task in Congress last week, referring to the bill as “an outright lie.”

    Babin, who voted no on the bill, said before the House of Representatives, that the Equality Act is more about the political left prioritizing a “radical agenda over religious freedom, the well-being of children and the safety of women and girls.”

    The Equality Act, if passed, would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964, to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity with regard to employment, housing, education opportunities, federal funding and the jury system.

    Since it was introduced on Feb. 18, the bill picked up 223 co-sponsors and subsequently passed the House in a 224-206 vote on Thursday, Feb. 25. The bill was introduced by Rhode Island congressman David Cicilline, a Democrat from the state’s 1st congressional district. All of the House Democrats voted in favor of the bill, and eight Republicans, including San Antonio-area congressman Will Hurd, voted for it.

    Cicilline, who served as mayor of Providence, RI prior to being elected to Congress, is, according to his biography, the first openly gay mayor of a U.S. state capital. The bill’s passage also comes in the wake of President Joe Biden’s ending of former President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender troops serving in the military.

    Babin’s opposition to the bill is shared by many feminists, women’s rights organizations and some religious organizations, which have opposed part of the bill due to verbiage that defines biological sex to include gender identity. Critics claim that factor will harm single-sex spaces, such as prisons, locker rooms and shelter.

    “As the father of three daughters and the grandfather of nine granddaughters, I am outraged at the assault this bill launches on women in sports,” Babin said.

    Babin also expressed concerns from the perspective of a healthcare provider. Babin, who is a dentist, said the bill, if passed, would prohibit physicians from counseling children with gender dysphoria. Instead, physicians would have to administer “dangerous medical treatment,” which includes puberty blockers and even surgeries, and contradicts science, he said.

    “These treatments compound these children’s confusions, rather than solving it,” he said.

    The bill is now in the hands of the Senate for consideration and a vote as to adopt it as law or not.

  • Brady: Congress not working for the people

    Kevin BradyFILE PHOTO Congressman Kevin Brady

    By Tony Farkas

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressman Kevin Brady said the federal government is not working in the best interests of the people, especially the people of East Texas.

    In a conference call on Wednesday, the Republican from Conroe, who represents the 8th District, also said that the recent ice storm has highlighted a need for better energy plans.

    “The toughest issue is for the Legislature to face is if Texas has the right balance of power in emergencies such as this,” he said. “Obviously, the answer is no. For my part, I and the Texas Delegation sent a letter to ERCOT to get answers. We want to make sure the state doesn’t go through similar situations.”

    Brady said he introduced a bill recently to expand oil and gas development, designed to unlock state’s energy potential by giving governors power to nominate land for development, and to give states more input into plans for development on the continental shelf.

    He said this is the opposite approach that President Biden has taken, since he launched two attacks on Texas energy and jobs by canceling the Keystone XL pipeline project and putting a moratorium on permits for drilling on federal land.

    “This will cost more than 1 million jobs, many here in Texas,” Brady said. “I’ve invited President Biden to come down to this region and meet face-to-face with the energy workers whose jobs he cut. He can explain to them why their families don’t matter. He can tell them where to apply for all these good-paying jobs, because they need help right now.”

    The stimulus package for the country coming to grips with the coronavirus, which passed the Senate last week and is heading to the House for more debate, neither a stimulus nor was not focused on defeating COVID, Brady said.

    “Less than a dime of every dollar goes toward COVID vaccines and defeating the virus, and that’s an insult, because that’s our top priority, and it does next to nothing to help Main Street businesses or get America back to work,” he said.

    Brady said the Democrats in Congress refuse to work with the GOP, and every amendment offered by Republicans has been voted down in favor of pork. He also said there has been absolutely no discussion about the $20-plus trillion debt and trillion-dollar deficits by the current Congress.

    “If (the stimulus bill) becomes law, Congress will have racked up 5 ½ trillion dollars in additional spending in a year, and new reports show that isn’t the full amount, because interest is rising,” he said. “We have created an unbelievable amount of debt, and … we tried to get in a bill a provision to require a balanced budget, but that was crushed pretty quickly. We need to recognize that none of this spending is free, and it will come back to bite us either in inflation, higher interest rates or higher taxes for our children and grandchildren.”

    Two other measures that the House is considering also work against the common good, Brady said: one that nationalizes state and local elections, and bans voter ID requirements and mandates ballot harvesting, among other things; and the other is one to defund the police.

    “Democrats are seeking to remove the immunity shield protecting officers from civil suits, which will drive good law enforcement officers out,” he said. “They’re seeking to nationalize the police, and I think that’s a dangerous approach.”

    Brady said the Democrats feel that no crisis should go to waste, and they see in the current discussions about police the need to expand federal control.

    Also, Brady said he was against recent Democratic pushing for a $15 minimum wage, or tying the minimum wage to the cost of living.

    “Artificially mandating the minimum wage is incredibly damaging to workers, especially young and non-skilled workers,” Brady said. “The Congressional Budget Office has said that raising it to $15 will cost as many as 2 million jobs, and will kill more jobs than it will lift people out of poverty.”

    In Texas, Brady said, a small business with 10 employees will pay an additional $150,000 in payroll a year, without any additional revenue or new customers.

    “Business won’t survive, and the ones that do will look to cut personnel or hours,” he said. “That’s not good for anybody.

    “I think we’re asking the wrong question here,” Brady said. “It shouldn’t be how high the minimum wage should be, but how do we get more workers off of it and into better paying jobs. Minimum wage is a training wage.”

  • GOP chair receives award

    041521 wrightCOURTESY PHOTO The first-ever Greg Abbott Leadership Award was presented to Dwayne Wright, chairman of the Republican Party of San Jacinto County.

    Special to the News-Times

    AUSTIN — Dwayne Wright, chairman of the Republican Party of San Jacinto County, was recently recognized by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for his contributions to conservative principles in the state.

    This is the first leadership award given by the governor, which from now on will be annually awarded.

    Wright promotes strong core values in the state, and contributes his time and effort across the area to champion conservatism and strong Texas principles.

    Wright is not only head of the Republican Party of San Jacinto county, but also is executive director of the Texas Republican County Chair Association. He has worked on various campaigns to help spread conservative values throughout the state.

  • Weatherford named to state jail standards commission

    Weatherford 01 14 21FILE PHOTO Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford.

    By Chris Edwards

    AUSTIN – Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford, who just recently began serving another term has another reason to celebrate: an appointment from the governor.

    Last week, Weatherford was appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott to serve as one of the nine-member Commission on Jail Standards. He will fill an unexpired/vacated position that was occupied by Dennis Wilson, the Sheriff of Groesbeck County. Wilson’s term ends on Jan. 31.

    Weatherford will begin serving his six-year term on the commission, once he is confirmed by the state senate.

    He is looking forward to serving in that capacity, in addition to his duties as Tyler County Sheriff.
    He said it is exciting to him, personally, that East Texas voices are able to be heard in Austin, but above all, he wants to make sure that he does the job.

    “I want to make sure that I do a good job on representing our county in the aspect that the jails are running up to the standards set forth by the Commission,” Weatherford said. “I’m really excited about this appointment,” he added.

    The Texas Commission on State Jail Standards serves as the regulatory body for all of the county jails in the state, as well as privately operated municipal jails. It was created by the state legislature in 1975 to implement a statewide policy for all jails under its jurisdiction to conform to a minimum standard for the care and treatment of inmates, as well as the construction, maintenance and operation of jails.

    Weatherford has served and protected Tyler County citizens for 30 years in various capacities. He worked first as a police officer for the City of Woodville, then as a Justice of the Peace and most recently as Sheriff, after he was elected to his first term in 2013. Weatherford and his wife Ashley, who serves as the Director of Curriculum/Federal Programs for the Woodville Independent School District, are both Tyler County natives.

    Public service runs in Weatherford’s family, as his brother Brad is a Texas Ranger with the Texas Department of Public Safety and one of his sons, Tyler Bryan, is employed as a DPS State Trooper.

    Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Milton Powers will administer the Oath of Office to Weatherford at a later date.