White Turns Green in State of City Address

In his third "State of the City" address since he took office in 2004, Houston Mayor Bill White veered from traditional political speeches and instead called on Houstonians to be more energy efficient and conscious about where their trash goes. As Houston Public Radio's Jack Williams reports, the mayor was decidedly "green" in his first major address of 2007.

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Mayor White is halfway through his second term as the leader of Houston and says he'd like to see the entire city cut down on energy consumption. He set a goal of cutting per capita residential power consumption by 5-percent in five years.

"I want 2007 to be the year that Houston, Texas set out to become the leader in this country in energy efficiency and making more sustainable and afforable economic growth in our community by conserving on the resources that we use and the waste that we generate."

White says that waste is many cases includes things that could be recycled but instead are filling-up the city's landfills.

"We put a shameful amount, a vast amount, I mean it's about a third of the amount we do, of leaves, weeds, tree trunks, branches within these landfills. We need to recycle that material and come up with a way that we as a community get the benefit of those waste streams, not put a noose around the next generations neck because we're putting everything in a landfill that could be recycled."

Touting conservation and waste reduction programs used by the nation's largest companies, like Wal-Mart, the mayor told an audience at the Hilton Americas Hotel downtown what's good for Fortune 500 companies is good for the city.

"They're doing it not just because they realize it is important for this county, but also because they understand that these higher energy costs, if they can be managed and managed well with new technologies, makes their business more competitive. Houston should have that same kind of attitude."

The mayor also touted an array of successes in 2006, including pension reform, Safe Clear, rapid transit improvements, and the city's ability to find homes for tens of thousands of Katrina evacuees.

"We were a shining example of what happens when a community says that it cannot afford to fail and calls on the best and now many people have been able to return, a few people incarcerated, and many many evacuees have found jobs, put down roots, got on with their lives and we don't call them evacuees anymore if they want to live here. They're Houstonians, right?"

White hinted at the mayoral election later this year and told the audience that he'd ask for their support in "renewing his contract" for a third and final term as mayor.

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