Archive for April, 2011

Chisum Amendment to TCEQ Bill Passes – see how your rep voted

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Citizens across Texas suffered a significant loss of their rights protect private property and water resources when the State House of Representatives voted last night to adopt the Chisum amendment to the TCEQ Sunset Legislation. Even sadder, the 96 to 44 vote wasn’t even close. See how your representative voted here.

Of our Hill Country Delegation who represent you:

John Garza, Larry Gonzalez, Harvey Hildebran, Jason Isaac, Tracy King, Edmund Kuempel, Lyle Larson, Doug Miller and Charles Schwertner voted for the Chisum amendment to gut your ability to contest TCEQ permits.

Deserving of our thanks for opposing the bill are Roland Gutierrez, Donna Howard, Trey Martinez Fischer, Ruth Jones McClendon, Jose Menendez, Elliot Naishtat, Eddie Rodriguez, Ralph Scheffield, Mark Strama and Mike Villarreal.

Those of you who live in rural areas, where you rely most heavily on contesting TCEQ permits for bad projects because your county governments are prohibited from nixing bad projects, will notice that your representatives voted to take away your most useful venue of protest.

Although there were some good things that passed with the TCEQ Sunset Bill, the debate brought out some very troubling aspects about how our current crop of representatives regard pollution in our State. According to the Austin American Statesman (4/20/11-House passes TCEQ sunset bill but softens agency’s bite), “Republicans swatted away an amendment that would have declared the TCEQ’s mission to be ‘the protection of human health and the environment.'”

So many of us have achieved so much during the past years by contesting TCEQ permits. Now, those rights are severely compromised. Please contact your legislators to express your thanks or your displeasure as warranted by their vote on this important issue.

Many thanks to all of you who have been contacting your legislators. The session isn’t over yet. We need to let those who represent us in the Hill Country region how we feel about pollution in our State.


GEAA opposes Chisum Amendment

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A very serious threat to our ability to control pollution here in Texas is coming up in the House of Representatives today (Tuesday, April 19th). State Rep. Warren Chisum will attempt to sully HB 2694 – the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) “sunset” legislation – with an amendment that is identical to HB 3037 that would gut the process for contesting TCEQ permits – a process that currently allows citizens to improve pollution control permits or even stop the issuance of permits for bad projects.

Specifically, the Chisum amendment is designed to give polluters yet another advantage in the contested case process. It would place the ‘burden of proof’ on those contesting a pollution control permit. Currently the burden of proof is where it should be – on polluters – to demonstrate that their discharges into the water or emissions into the air will be within legal limits and will not produce adverse impacts. If a person or a company wants to introduce pollutants to our air and water, they need to prove that it will not be harmful – the burden should not be on those who might be affected by the pollution. To learn more, click here.

As I testified in opposition to Chisum’s bill on April 6th, “All too often, GEAA, our member groups, and individual citizens have been required to contest permits for projects that should have never been granted in the first place. We have seen TCEQ issue permits based upon faulty modeling and false information. Permits to applicants who have a long history of non-compliance with TCEQ regulations. Permits for projects that pollute our surface and groundwater. Permits for projects that would result in the degradation of our natural resources. The agency is underfunded, understaffed, and under pressure to grant permits in compliance with a timeframe that does not favor thorough review. Mistakes do happen. Texans rely on the right to contest permits that impact their property and well being. Please do not compromise or deny them this right.”

Flawed as it may be, the contested case process provides the only recourse to fight bad TCEQ permits. Please contact your legislators today to let them know that you oppose the Chisum amendment to HB 2694.

All you gotta do is call now into the Capitol Switchboard at (512) 463-4630.

Ask for your state representative. The switchboard will ask you your address and then send you to the right office.