Yesterday, the Texas State House of Representatives voted on third reading for House Bill 2694 that, if it passes the Senate, would continue the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. 96 numb Representatives — all but one Republicans, voted for an amendment that Panhandle Rep. Warren Chisum attached to the bill. Chisum’s amendment removes citizen’s rights to contested case hearings by placing the burden of proof on the citizens as opposed to big industry.
Ken Kramer, Director of the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club commented,
The House floor action on the TCEQ sunset bill Wednesday was a historic low point in legislative activity on environmental issues. It represents a failure of the majority of state representatives to protect both public health and the rights of their constituents to a clean environment.
Dallas Rep. Rafael Anchia made a valiant effort to strip the Chisum amendment from HB 2694 and protect citizens’ rights to a fair, contested case hearing. David Weinberg with the Texas League of Conservation Voters considered the floor debate on the Anchia amendment to be, “some of the most compelling arguments of this Session.”
Ken concluded —
The TCEQ sunset bill as filed in the House represented 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. Key amendments to the bill on the House floor today have undermined that balance and have given polluters the best present they could have asked for to celebrate Earth Day later this week. The most egregious changes in the TCEQ bill were those that undercut or in some cases eliminate the rights of Texans to contest proposed pollution control permits that pose a threat to their communities and their families.
There is hope that the bill as it moves to the Senate will be cleaned up to make it the balanced legislation it started out to be. If the TCEQ sunset bill isn’t cleaned up in the Senate, neither will the state of Texas be cleaned up.
Posted by Donna Hoffman, 04-21-2011