The Texas House chooses to make protecting our health and our environment even more difficult


Last Tuesday, when the Texas House of Representatives took up the TCEQ Sunset bill, our state representatives had the opportunity to show us where they stand. This legislation, which will “continue” TCEQ for the next twelve years, has been in development for nearly two years. Thousands of people participated in the TCEQ review and recommendation process with the goal of identifying ways to make the agency more effective and efficient. The floor debate was our representatives’ chance to make TCEQ a more effective protector of our health and our environment.

Instead, they decided to make the bill considerably worse.

As Ken Kramer, executive director of the Sierra Club Lone Star Chapter, put it, the House of Representatives took a balanced piece of legislation “that reflected the recommendations of the Texas Sunset Commission after a thorough and careful review of the state’s major environmental regulatory agency” and “have given polluters the best present they could have asked for to celebrate Earth Day.”

Without question, one amendment adopted by the House would have a profound impact on Texans’ ability to protect their health and their property. Rep. Warren Chisum offered an amendment to change the contested case hearing process. The proposed changes will mean that thousands of Texas property owners will now find participating in the permitting process even more burdensome and expensive.

Rep. Rafael Anchia, a member of the Sunset Advisory Commission, asked his colleagues to oppose the amendment, explaining that it was completely outside the realm of issues discussed and recommended by the commission. He not only opposed the amendment during the floor debate on Tuesday—Rep. Anchia took the step of offering a counter amendment the following day, on third reading, to strip the contested case hearing amendment from the bill. The video above is from that debate. It explains the changes this amendment would put in place clearly.

ACT remains committed to making TCEQ a stronger and more effective environmental protector and regulator. Our partner and affiliate organizations are working to improve the TCEQ Sunset bill in the Senate. Texans depend on TCEQ to keep the air they breathe clean, the water they drink safe and the land they love preserved for generations to come.

We will fight these efforts to weaken TCEQ. Call your State Senator in Austin now and ask her or him to prevent any debate on the TCEQ Sunset Bill until the crippling House amendments are removed. The people of Texas want a clean bill that does not weaken our state’s environmental regulatory agency.

If you’re not sure who represents you, you can find out here. A list of Senate phone numbers is available here.

 

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