In the last days of the 82nd Legislative Session, industry has finally shown how far they will go to protect their power to pollute at will. Tuesday night, Rep. Dennis Bonnen (HB 25, Angleton), offered an amendment on SB 875 that would provide industry an affirmative defense against civil suits. This amendment would severely restrict Texans’ ability to protect their property by giving industry immunity from nuisance and trespass action on nearly every type of regulated activity.
After an hour-long debate, the House tried to remove the Bonnen amendment yesterday from SB 875. The vote was 82-63 to remove the terrible Bonnen amendment from the bill. But the motion failed because, according to the House rules, an amendment on 3rd reading, requires a 2/3rd majority for passage. In other words, even though a majority of representatives opposed the Bonnen amendment once they understood what it did, the amendment remains on the bill. And the bill passed on 3rd reading with the Bonnen amendment on it, even though the majority of representatives had voted to take the amendment off just moments earlier.
Now, only the Texas Senate can stop this assault on Texas property owners’ ability to protect their property. This will sound familiar to those who have followed the TCEQ Sunset legislation and industry’s attempt to weaken the public’s ability to contest a permit. We have to take immediate action to get this amendment off this bill and preserve Texans’ rights to protect our property.
How can you help? Call your senator’s Capitol office today. Here’s what you need to say:
The Senate should not concur with SB 875 as it comes back from the House. In fact the Senate should wait the full 48 hours to review this bill. The Bonnen amendment goes too far in giving industry a free pass to pollute without fear of consequences and restricts our ability to defend our property. Texans believe in private property rights–and they will rightly object to laws passed to restrict these rights. Kill this bill or at the very least, strip the Bonnen Amendment.
Please CONTACT YOUR TEXAS SENATOR IMMEDIATELY!!!
For those who’d like to learn more about this issue, we’ve put a video of Rep. Eiland’s explanation of the Bonnen amendment on YouTube. Please feel free to share it. And please forward this email to your friends and groups. Our senators need to know that Texans do not want polluting industry to have a free pass to pollute in any of our backyards.
Thank you for your efforts to keep this damaging amendment from becoming law. Call your state senator before 1:00 pm CT today, Thursday, May 26, 2011–they need to hear from us!
Thanks to Ken Kramer with Lone Star Chapter, Carol Geiger and Tom ‘Smitty’ Smith at Public Citizen, and Lize Burr at Alliance for a Clean Texas for all your work on this issue and your content for this post.
Donna Hoffman, Communications Coordinator Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club