“Mr. Chairman, as a point of order do we swear in Jack Daniels as a witness?”

This was too funny not to share.

Courtesy of Gardner Selby at the Austin American Statesman’s Postcards blog:

Rep. Jim Dunnam of Waco, leader of the House Democratic Caucus, stunned observers at a hearing this afternoon by lining up what looked like shots of whiskey on the members’ dais in the hearing room and then gulping down several to buttress a point about the cumulative impact of air pollution.

But rest easy, Temperance League.

Dunnam said after shot three that the brownish liquid in the shot glasses was iced tea.


This is such a beautiful analogy.  Chairman Dunnam made this point while explaining HB 2495, “AN ACT relating to the consideration of the cumulative effects of emissions from proposed facilities in actions by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality on applications for certain air contaminant emissions permits or permit amendments.”  With a total of 9 lines and less than 200 words, this was very simple.

When permitting new coal-fired power plants, current TCEQ policy does not consider the cumulative effects of the emissions from those plants.  That means that if eight coal stacks were to be built within one county, as they were in McLennan county in 2007, then TCEQ can consider each of the proposals only as an individual entity and its potential to cause harm to health and quality of life.  As Rep. Dunnam illustrated, the effects are cumulative, whether you drink one shot in Waco, one in Houston, one in San Antonio, etc.

Currently, TCEQ can only consider cumulative effects within a 30 mile radius.  However, once a county exceeds the pollution levels set by EPA (what is called “non-attainment”), TCEQ has the power to look at all cumulative sources of pollution for existing plants, just not proposed ones.

Rep. Lon Burnham of Ft. Worth mentioned several times how Tarrant County is currently in non-attainment, but this is largely because of pollution sources outside of the county which TCEQ would not consider in their permitting process whether it would affect the air in Dallas-Ft. Worth.

So, if we’re already tipsy from pollution, should TCEQ be allowed to cut us off for another drink?

Texas Legislature puts video of their committee meetings online.  You can watch the whole heaing here, but go ahead to 2 hours :19 minutes for the drinking show.

Best.  Committee Hearing.  EVER.

Also of note, Andy Wilson of our office testified on 7 different bills in this committee hearing, much to the Chair’s chagrin.  Watch as he keeps his last two peices of testimony to under 1 minute.  Two more bills and he would’ve gotten Bingo.