Action Alert: Oppose House Bill 1714 by Wayne Smith

May 7th, 2013
After tragic events in West, Texas and Beaumont, the Texas House should be working to protect public health and safety from environmental hazards.  Unfortunately, a bill being considered on the House floor on Wednesday heads in the opposite direction.

House Bill 1714 by Wayne Smith ends a program at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to inform the public as to which companies doing business in Texas do not have good environmental compliance records.  The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has for the last decade provided “compliance history” regulations that generate a score for each regulated facility in the state based generally on the number and severity of violations the facilities have faced through environmental enforcement actions. TCEQ uses these scores as a public “report card” for regulated entities, as well as in decisions regarding the issuance, renewal, amendment, modification, denial, suspension or revocation of permits, enforcement, the use of announced inspections, and participation in innovative or voluntary programs.

Ending TCEQ’s Compliance History program now would be a huge step in the wrong direction for citizens and communities having access to critical information on what facilities in their community have a poor environmental compliance record.  HB 1714 would also end or restrict public hearings on certain permit applications.  The TCEQ at a regular meeting could approve an application to renew or amend a permit relating to the discharge of waste or pollutants into or adjacent to water in Texas.  Further, the bill restricts the evidence of a final determination of noncompliance with federal statutes or statutes of any state concerning solid waste management by an applicant for a solid waste management facility permit that may be offered by a party at a hearing concerning an application.

It is imperative that your State Representative hear that they should oppose House Bill 1714 on Wednesday.  Calls to your State Representative’s office are hugely helpful.  To send an email to your State Representative, please click on the link below.

Thank you,

David Weinberg
Executive Director