News Roundup: Lawsuit Seeks to Save Threatened Central Texas Salamanders

Our daily look at Texas headlines from around the state.

By Becky FogelJune 4, 2019 12:11 pm

An environmental advocacy group is suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Center for Biological Diversity accuses the agency of failing to protect two Central Texas amphibians listed as threatened species: the Georgetown and Salado salamanders.

Elise Bennett is a staff attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “One thing that’s really unique about them and I find particularly endearing is that their heads are crowned by these beautiful fluffy gills,” she says. “They use these gills to live their entire lives underwater, and that’s why it’s so important to protect springs for these salamanders.”

Bennett says under the Endangered Species Act, U.S. Fish and Wildlife is required to protect the habitat of these salamanders.

“Unfortunately the service did not do that, even though the law required it,” Bennett says. “Now we’re about five years away from that decision to protect them – and they’ve still gone without these protections. So this lawsuit is all about making sure that there will be clean water and habitat for these salamanders moving into the future.”

Bennett adds that ensuring the salamanders have clean water not only protects their habitat, but it protects people as well.

Gov. Greg Abbott is working his way through bills state lawmakers passed during the 86th legislative session.

Gov. Abbott signed a measure into law Monday that will allow Texans who are at least 21 years old to order alcohol with food or grocery deliveries. He posted a video on Twitter:

Abbott also attends a bill signing ceremony in Dallas Tuesday afternoon, for legislation that cracks down on human trafficking and reduces the backlog of untested rape kits.

Texas could soon see $4 billion in long-awaited funds for Hurricane Harvey recovery.

The U.S. House of Representatives finally passed a major disaster relief bill Monday, after a series of delays. The U.S. Senate passed the measure before the Memorial Day recess, but it got tripped up in the House.

Austin-area Republican Rep. Chip Roy drew national attention for blocking the vote on May 24.

He defended his previous effort to block the bill during debate Monday, saying “my Democratic colleagues tried three separate times to pass this $19 billion disaster supplemental – which is unpaid for and most members haven’t read – without members present for a vote through simple consent with solely two members in this chamber.”

The disaster relief bill now heads to President Trump.