Roy Beck's picture


  by  Roy Beck

I'll be in Dallas at the Texas State Fairgrounds the next few days at the largest Earth Day exposition in the country, presenting our massive new study, VANISHING OPEN SPACES.

I got one view of the Texas environmental ethos when I first arrived for my six years of living in the state back in the 1980s. I was riding in a car driven by a government official and was surprised to see him pull a beer out from a cooler, open it and begin drinking as he drove in the middle of a city. It was the first time of many more that I heard that being a real Texan meant being able to drink and drive and toss the empty can out the window when you are through. I never actually saw a can go out a window, so I guess it was just the thought of being free to throw it that was important to the frontier-independence mindset.

But if that mindset was more than a self-aware-satire meant to confuse and play on outsiders' prejudices, Texans should be overjoyed that sprawl in their state has been destroying more woodlands, prairies and farmland than in any other state -- 1,572 square miles eliminated in the previous decade. That was almost double what happened in Florida, the state with the second highest level of destruction.

Sprawl in this state is Texas Big.

In fact, Texas had 4 of the worst 10 sprawling cities out of 497 Urbanized Areas. In order from worst to 10th worst: Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Phoenix, Chicago, Charlotte, Austin, Raleigh, San Antonio, Philadelphia.


A poll this month of all likely voters in Texas found that Texans aren't much different from Americans in general in that they value spending time in natural areas, they worry about the vanishing of woodlands for wildlife and think it is unethical to build on good cropland.

Conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, the poll found that most Texas voters are well ahead of government officials in their concern about vanishing open spaces and their interest in reducing the national population growth that drives most of the loss. While most elected Texas officials are doing very little to stop federally-forced population growth -- and many are trying to force even higher rates -- most Texans whether conservative or liberal would prefer a Texas much different from the one being created.

Our study concluded that all of the state's sprawl in the 2002-2010 period was related to population growth.

The average Texan was using less land in 2010 than in 2002 to meet residential, commercial, occupational, transportation, educational, recreational and cultural needs. But there were 3.4 million more people in Texas in 2010 that had to be accommodated for all those things.

While the Texas population growth came from other countries and the higher fertility rate of its immigrant population, it also came from a lot of U.S.-born resident moving in from other states. In the country as a whole, our study found that new immigrants and births to immigrants were the equivalent of about 70% of total population growth. (Since 1972, Americans have fertility rates that are just below replacement level.)

Among the poll results:

  • 90% of Texans say it is important (70% "very important") to protect farmland from development to ensure the ability to feed the U.S. population in the future.
  • 71% say this loss of farmland and natural habitat is a problem.
  • 68% say it is important for the United States "to have enough farmland to be able to feed people in other countries as well as its own."
  • By a 5-1 margin, Texans think it is unethical to pave over good cropland rather than being legitimate to provide housing for a growing population.
  • Most Texans (73%) feel a spiritual or emotional uplift from time spent in natural areas.
  • 79% say it is important (42% say "very important") to be able to get to natural areas fairly quickly from where they live.
  • 80% say the loss of 17 million acres of woodlands cut down nationally in the last three decades is a significant problem for wildlife.
  • Most Texans (59%) say current population growth will make their local area worse, while only 8% say it will make Texas better.
  • If the population in Texas doubles this century -- like the national population is projected to do under current immigration policies -- only 16% of Texans believe "the government will be able to build enough extra transportation capacity to accommodate the extra people;" 74% say the traffic "would become much worse."

Told that the U.S. Census Bureau projects the U.S. population to nearly double this century if present growth rates continue, Texans were asked their preference:

  • Only 13% of Texans prefer that U.S. population growth continue at its present rate.
  • 31% of Texans prefer that the rate of growth be cut in half
  • 35% say they prefer there be no more population growth
  • 14% say they would like to see the population "slowly become smaller"

Informed that government data show that "nearly all long-term population growth" is from federal immigration policy (new immigrants and the children of immigrants), Texans were asked what they prefer:

  • 71% of Texans say the "government needs to reduce immigration to slow down population growth"
  • 19% favor keeping "immigration the same and allow population to double this century"
  • Only 5% want what Pres. Obama and the majority of the Senate want, which is to increase immigration to more than double the population this century.

Told that the government currently allows one million legal immigrants each year, Texans were asked how many immigrants a year they prefer.

  • 9% chose TWO million
  • 16% chose ONE million (current rate)
  • 21% chose HALF a million (half the current rate)
  • 22% chose 100,000 (one-tenth the current rate)
  • 22% chose ZERO
  • 10% chose "not sure"

That suggests that only 25% of Texas voters support continuing current high levels of annual legal immigration.

Before Texas destroys any more of the natural heritage and agricultural lands of the state, Texas politicians ought to start looking at immigration issues on the basis of how they affect the voters' ethical, quality-of-life and emotional desires for the land that feeds and nurtures them.

ROY BECK is Founder & President of NumbersUSA

Environental Sustainability
Ethics of Population and Immigration
population growth
natural habitats

Updated: Fri, Apr 25th 2014 @ 9:12am EDT

NumbersUSA's blogs are copyrighted and may be republished or reposted only if they are copied in their entirety, including this paragraph, and provide proper credit to NumbersUSA. NumbersUSA bears no responsibility for where our blogs may be republished or reposted. The views expressed in blogs do not necessarily reflect the official position of NumbersUSA.
Gene 5798 of TX's picture

Very somber facts about desire and reality in one written piece. Thank you, Roy. Reminds me in 2008 a friend 15 years my senior said to me, "Gene, I beleive that you and I got to live the best years that the United States history will ever record." This blog, Roy, reminded me again that he was right.

Mike 1111 of CO's picture

Even if you could provide enough land for them, the pressure that immigrants place on food, fuel, power, and water is becoming unbearable. In my opinion, we are at, near, or past the sustainable capacity of our land on a nationwide basis. Some states are already well beyond their sustainable capacity, and they must import the shortages at great cost. You can do a 'quick check' of this by looking at the high electricity prices in CA, NY, OH, PA, and TX and comparing them to the nationwide average of about 11.5c/kWh.

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Thomas 2924 of IN's picture

With our current excessive population we are already borrowing from our children's future to support an unsustainable quality of life that keeps getting worse anyway as population continues to rise. As the polling shows, Americans almost all know that.

Caroline 7445 of CO's picture

I was in grade school in 1950 when the population turned over to 150 million. It doubled in 57 years. Now it's expected to double again by the end of the century. 600 million people. Unsustainable. An overpopulated nation is an ignorant nation.

Thomas 2924 of IN's picture

Caroline, I lived and worked in Colorado for a few years in the late 1970s. The population of that state has more than doubled since then. I still go back to hike and snowshoe, but the traffic, congestion, and loss of open space make it is much less enjoyable place than it once was. It's really tragic.

Gene 5798 of TX's picture

Crime statistics, welfare resource drain, natural resources depleted, etc, etc, government is in cahoots in some devious plan that thus far only displays serious failure. They apparently do not even have faith in the plan or they would brag about it. Sure GLAD that I try to stop it, by voting against both parties, because after 50 years of voting, an improved America from 50 years ago is difficult to claim. Hard words, but truthful from my perspective.

Robert 4907 of DE's picture

This may be a little off topic, but, didn't Rick Perry agree with Jed Bush when he said, it‘s an “Act of Love” the illegal aliens are here. How about an “Act of Defiance” they are here? Illegal aliens are here raping the American taxpayers because of their anchor babies, taking our jobs, overcrowding our schools, overwhelming our hospitals, jails and everything else. They want to give these people amnesty? It will change NOTHING and cost BILLIONS upon BILLIONS to give them amnesty. Are they IDIOTS? ENFORCE THE DAMN LAWS!

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Aaron 8129 of ID's picture

Yep it was Jed Bush who said it was a "Act of Love" that the illegals are here. Ever since any articles about him and this subject the comments are angry at him!! I like your "Act of Defiance" instead as it's more likely happening in reality!!

Albert 3441 of PA's picture

This blog underscores the growing disconnect between the will of the people and the determination of the Beltway Elite to thwart that will. They are more than willing to sell the land from under the unborn feet of future generations of their fellow countrymen in order to concentrate more economic and political power in their own hands.

Underlying the environmental rapacity of the plutocrats is the nature and scope of the plutocracy itself. Although I am no fan of the open-borders stance of Counterpunch, they published an excellent blog on this topic last year:

[link url=""]

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None 2150 of WY's picture

As long as those politician's live in their ivory towers, it will be the same. They are making sure that their children are cared for with the colleges and health care they can get.

They could care less about the middle class and obviously care more about illegal aliens. Why and how they get away with making their own laws is beyond me. We have the laws on the books as everyone knows. But they ignore them at their leisure. Aren't they just lucky! BAH!

Albert 3441 of PA's picture

The fact that no bankers went to prison for the crimes that led to the economic collapse of 2008-2009 demonstrates that we have an entire economic class that is functionally immune from the economic and social consequences of their destructive behaviors.

Thomas 2924 of IN's picture

You might think of that 1572 square miles as a mile-wide suburb winding its way snake-like through Texas for 1572 miles. As usual, when they are polled honestly the American people show enormous wisdom. Our representatives in Washington aren't fools either, but the vast majority of them have sold out to business interests. I recently read in Politico (a great place to comment on immigration stories) that Eric Cantor (a big advocate of high immigration rates) already has $2 million dollars in his campaign fund, a lot of money in a congressional district that, like all others, only has about 700,000 men, women and children. Is it his campaign that is already paid for, or his votes in Congress?

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Jm  2943 of CO's picture

We heard on NPR today; Boehner has over 2 million while his 3 primary opponents haven't even raised $40000 together so you know this is true!

Thomas 2924 of IN's picture

I would guess that the average Texan was using less land in 2010 than in 2002 because poor people buy smaller houses on smaller lots. There are more poor immigrants in 2010 and they have driven the wages of other workers down more. The slowing in the increase in per capita land use for the U.S. is explained in the same way. People at the top keep getting richer. However, the real wage of the median male worker peaked in 1973. The massive influx of foreign workers is a major factor in the suppression of wages, just as planned by business interests and the Members of Congress they own.

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John 4110 of MI's picture

Some things are basically irreversible. Population growth is just about one. Losses of jobs to foreign trade can be changed over decades with new policies.

It should be noted that Ralph Nader shares many of NumbersUSA views on excessive immigration. Of note he opposes increases the increase in technical worker visas in part because it is damaging to the rest of the world.

Thomas 6502 of OR's picture

The very thought of bringing into the USA as new Citizens from this talk about Amnesty , some 18 Million people this is the size of a State all of its own. America is surviving through these depressions and recessions we have not broke free from it all yet and Our Senators want to add into this equation 18 million illegals ? WHY ? You first need to FIX America's Financials and Program ? Do not Amnesty anyone !! America is Broke and Broken due to Obama and his band of Thieves in the Democrat Congress.

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William 6898 of AZ's picture

Thank God for real Americans like Jeff Sessions. He is one of the few in Washington that remembers who he is supposed to be representing.

James 0686 of TX's picture

The last thing we need is to give amnesty to millions of invaders that have not earned their status as Americans! They have paid nothing in and become instant burdens on the system. Besides that, they are criminals! They broke the law to get here and stay here, so for goodness sakes don't reward them for breaking the law! There is a system already in place for legal immigration. Use it and sene all the illegals back home. Truth is, we don't need or want them. Give us the individuals willing to follow current law!

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