Industry Pushing Bills & Amendments that Threaten Rights to Protect Property from Harmful Pollution

This week, both chambers of the 82nd Legislature will consider legislation that will affect the future of environmental protection and regulation in our state. Frankly, most of this legislation would further limit TCEQ’s ability to keep our air, water and land safe–particularly by limiting citizens’ right to protect their health and their property by contesting TCEQ permits. When you take a look at all the bills and amendments out there that would further weaken environmental regulation and enforcement in Texas, you can’t help but wonder if industry’s feeling a little like the kid in the candy shop, not knowing just which bill to like best.

The centerpiece of this legislation remains HB 2694–the TCEQ Sunset bill. This bill establishes how TCEQ will operate over the next twelve years, adopting changes to the agency to make it more effective and efficient. On Tuesday May 3rd, the Senate Committee on Natural Resources will consider HB 2694. The original version of HB 2694 included much-needed improvements to TCEQ’s enforcement policy and practices. ACT supported HB 2694 as introduced.

However, the Alliance for a Clean Texas does not support HB 2694 in its current version. The Texas House voted to weaken TCEQ by adopting amendments that limit the agency’s ability to protect our health and our environment. These amendments limit citizens’ right to contest permits for air emissions, wastewater discharges, hazardous waste disposal and other pollution. These changes, which were not recommended by the Sunset staff or the Sunset Advisory Commission, would favor industry over property owners and local governmental entities.

The good news is that the Texas Senate can fix the problem sent to them by the House. The Senate can vote to strip off the House amendments and vote for a “clean” TCEQ Sunset bill. By voting for a clean bill, the Texas Senate can restore Texans’ right to legal protection of their property.

If you want to maintain your rights to protest a coal-fired power plant, a sewage treatment plant, a hazardous waste landfill or other pollution sources that could threaten you community or family, now is the time to contact your state senator. Tell him or her to support a “clean” version of HB 2694 without the House amendments. If you are not sure who represents you in the Texas Senate, you can find out here. A directory of Senate phone numbers is available here; call the Capitol office.

Meanwhile, the attack on environmental regulation continues in the Texas House in the form of stand alone bills. More on that in ACT’s next post.

 

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