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Tomorrow, the Texas House of Representatives will consider the TCEQ Sunset bill (HB 2694) on the House floor. This bill, which will “continue” the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for the next twelve years, will have a profound impact on the health and environment of Texas. This morning, we learned that amendments have been filed that would give polluters even more advantages in the permitting process and would severely limit our ability to protect our land, our communities and our health.
Representative Warren Chisum has filed several amendments that would roll back reforms put in place during the last TCEQ (then the TNRCC) Sunset review in 2001. One of these amendments is based on a bill he introduced that would severely limit citizens’ ability to oppose permits through contested case hearings. The bill (HB 3037) was heard in House Environmental Regulation earlier this month. People from around the state stayed in the Capitol until 1:30 a.m. to testify in opposition; HB 3037 would limit their ability to protect their property, their families and their communities from harm. As folks who’d participated in contested case hearings to keep their water clean and to limit the toxins their children and livestock breathe, they know how important contested case hearings are to all Texans. Now this bill has become an amendment that the Texas House could pass as part of the TCEQ Sunset bill.
Bob Thompson, a rancher with property in Jack County, stayed late to let the committee know how important the contested case hearing is. At the end of his testimony, he made this statement:
I see this bill as an assault on private property rights. I think most ranchers I know in the part of the country where we ranch would view the situation very similarly. If you emasculate private property rights here in the state of Texas, I think you’re going to be having people coming down here with pitchforks.
Over and over, at town halls and formal public hearings, we hear ranchers introduce themselves as “the original environmentalists.” We know how deeply they love the land and how hard they fight to protect it. We think Bob Thompson speaks for all Texans who believe it’s their duty to protect the environment–today and for generations to come. Here’s a clip of his testimony so you can see for yourself.
This is one of those fights we can’t fight alone. Please call your state representative by 10:00 am on Tuesday morning to tell her or him to VOTE NO on the Chisum amendments to HB 2694. You stand with Texans all over the state who believe they have the right to protect their health and their property through the contested case hearing process. If you’re not sure who represents you, you can find out online here. A directory of all the House members is available online and includes all Capitol office phone numbers.
And in what would seem to be quite a coincidence, Senate Natural Resources will hear SB 657–the Senate version of the TCEQ Sunset bill jointly authored by Senators Huffman and Hegar–tomorrow morning as well. Stayed tuned
2013 ACT Legislative Agenda
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About ACTThe Alliance For A Clean Texas (ACT) brings together environmental, public interest, consumer rights and religious organizations from around the state dedicated to improving public health, quality of life and the environment in Texas by working for change at the regulatory and legislative levels.