AUSTIN — Texas’ Environmental Defense fund may be the only way to rebuild a devastated Texas state after a series of hurricanes devastated the state in the past two years.
A new study released by the Texas A&M University Center for Rural Policy and Government released Tuesday finds the state’s Environmental Defense funds could provide about $2 billion in relief, or about $5.2 billion if the funds are spent in a timely manner.
“The Environmental Defense Funds are meant to be a lifeline for communities and businesses to recover from natural disasters and make a long-term commitment to the local economy and environment,” said Mary Schmaler, executive director of the Center for Urban and Rural Policy, a think tank.
“It provides money to help businesses and individuals, but also gives it back to communities that have been left out of the recovery.”
The center’s study, titled The Great Storms, also found the state has $8.3 billion in outstanding debt from the natural disasters that ravaged the state over the past year, and the state may have $1.8 billion in debt to rebuild that debt.
The state’s state and local governments owe $4.9 billion, the study found.
The federal government is also on the hook for $2.1 billion.
The study estimated the total economic impact of natural disasters in Texas could be $11 billion.
The report said that was not a figure that includes the impact of job losses.
The report also found that Texas is still grappling with its recovery from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, which has caused thousands of job cuts, a massive property loss and an estimated $5 billion in property damage.
A $2 million investment from the state could pay for a house in the Dallas suburb of Pearland, a $2,000 home in Houston, a home in Fort Worth, a new car and a $3,500 boat, according to the report.
The Texas Environmental Defense Center, or TEDC, is part of a network of regional and state-level nonprofit organizations focused on protecting the state and the region.
It was established in 1972 by the state legislature and was created by a 2002 law, which allowed the state to provide grants for disaster relief to communities in its recovery.
The TEDCs was founded in response to the natural disaster that devastated Texas in the 1970s, but it is not involved in hurricane relief.
“We’re in a time of great uncertainty, but we know we have to be ready,” said Schmalers senior policy analyst and the study’s lead author.
“Texas has lost millions of jobs in the last few years.
If the TEDs investments and assistance don’t go as planned, the state will be at risk of losing even more jobs.”