Environmental Textbook Author Sues Texas Over Alleged Censorship

When it comes to textbook publishing, Texas calls the shots across the nation, by virtue of being big enough to need a whole heck of a lot of books. In the past, the Lone Star State has grabbed headlines for refusing to use science texts that teach evolutionary theory and not creationism; now, a major case is brewing over the teaching of environmental studies. At issue is “Environmental Science: Creating a Sustainable Future,” a textbook that has been used in high schools and colleges across the country for two decades. Although the book passed all the requisite peer reviews and was recommended for use by the Texas commissioner of education, it hit a snag during an 11th-hour hearing before the state board of education in 2001. Board members called the book inaccurate, as well as “radical,” “anti-Christian,” and “anti-American,” citing as evidence its discussion of global climate change, among other things. Now, the author has sued the board in federal court, in a case that pits environmentalists, educators, publishers, and First Amendment advocates against the energy industry, the Christian right, and defenders of the state’s right to control decisions about textbooks.