Posts Tagged ‘house environmental regulation’

We will be posting the weekly update provided to us by the Alliance for Clean Texas throughout the legislative session.

Now that April’s in full swing, there’s never a dull moment for environmental advocacy at the Capitol. I want to tell you where we are on several of ACT’s priority bills this week.  The TCEQ Sunset bill (HB 2694) was passed out of the House Environmental Regulation Committee today.  We anticipate that this bill will be on the House floor for a vote early next week.  Right now, we are still waiting to see what kind of amendments this bill draws.

The fracking fluid disclosure bill (HB 3328) was heard in the House Energy Resources Committee last week. This bill, which has bipartisan support, would enable Texans to know what kinds of chemicals are being used in hydraulic fracturing operations and establish much-needed transparency measures as gas drilling continues to increase. We hope it will be voted out of the committee this week.

Other environmental legislation is also working through the process. The TV Take Back Recycling bill (SB 329/HB 1966) has passed through the Senate and has been heard in House Environmental Regulation. The energy efficiency coordinating council bill (HB 773)–which would make our state’s energy efficiency programs more efficient–has been reported out of committee. There’s still time for other bills to make it through, but the prospects are best for bills that are out of committee in the next week.

The Alliance For A Clean Texas is an alliance of environmental, public interest, consumer rights and religious organizations dedicated to improving public health, quality of life and the environment in Texas by working for change at the regulatory and legislative levels.

ACT Partner Organizations

Sierra Club
Public Citizen (Texas office)
Environmental Defense Fund
Texas Impact
Air Alliance of Houston
Texas Campaign for the Environment
SEED Coalition
Environment Texas
Texas League of Conservation Voters
Re-Energize Texas
Environmental Integrity Project
Texas Center for Policy Studies
Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance
Hill Country Alliance
National Wildlife Foundation
Clean Water Action
Baptist Commission on Christian Life

Other state-wide organizations that work with ACT :

Physicians for Social Responsibility
American Lung Association
Texas League of Women Voters

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Original post created for the Alliance for a Clean Texas:

Over the past weekend, the Texas Medical Association (TMA) adopted the following resolution:

BE IT RESOLVED, That the Texas Medical Association (TMA) urges our state, local, and federal government leaders and legislators to act promptly and aggressively to reduce the health burden of pollution from vehicular, diesel, air toxics, and NAAQS criteria pollutant emissions.

TMA is to be applauded for adding its authoritative voice to the growing medical consensus that legislative action is necessary to protect the health of Texas citizens.

Right now, Texas medical organizations are joining together and calling for action. Last week, Health Professionals for Clean Air (a member of The Alliance for a Clean Texas) released its Consensus Statement on Reducing the Health Burden of Air Pollution in Texas. The following medical specialty societies have already endorsed the consensus statement:

  • Texas Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
  • Texas Chapter of the American College of Cardiology
  • Texas Chapter of the American College of Physicians
  • Texas College of Emergency Physicians
  • Texas College of Occupational & Environmental Medicine
  • Texas Pediatric Society

Additionally, five other leading societies are currently reviewing the consensus statement (including the Texas Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Society).

With four weeks left in the session, the Texas medical community has given the 81st Legislature a prescription: pass legislation that will reduce air toxics, vehicular emissions, mercury emissions, and improve overall air pollution “by basing air quality standards principally on human health.” This week is crucial for clean air legislation: SB 16 – Senator Averitt’s omnibus clean air bill – is still in House Environmental Regulation. (There’s a committee meeting this afternoon upon adjourment.) Additionally, the school bus idling bill (HB 4298), the school siting bill (HB 1839), the enhanced air monitor technology bill (HB 4581) and the comprehensive emissions database bill (HB 3582) have all been reported out of committee and should be on the House calendar.

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stp-water-pond2HB 2721 threatens to fast-track water permits for nuclear plants, which use vast quantities of water. Water is precious, and Governor Perry has just requested federal aid for all 254 counties in Texas due to statewide drought. Water permits should be given careful scrutiny, and not be rushed. This bill, which will be heard tomorrow on Earth Day, would actually deny citizens the right to a contested case hearing for these water permits!

According to Greg Harman over at the San Antonio Current’s QueBlog:

To cool down the superheated water used to create electricity can take hundreds of thousands of gallons of water per minute. According to the Sustainable Energy & Economic Development (SEED) Coalition fighting nuclear power in the state, the plants proposed at Comanche Peak in North Texas would require104,000 acre feet per year: 33.8 billion gallons.

To ease the potential political stew that could come from the plants’ permit applications (if they are built), Canton-based Representative Dan Flynn filed a bill to fast-track the water permitting process. (Dan was joined by Houston’s Rep. Bill Callegari as co-author a couple days after the bill was filed and has since also been joined by reps Randy Weber, Tim Kleinschmidt, and Phil King.)

Under House Bill 2721, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality must create “reasonably streamlined processes” to move those applications along. One key way to move a controversial permit it to not allow the TCEQ refer it to the State Office of Administrative Hearings for a public airing. (more…)

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In addition to Lon Burnam’s HB 3423, there are five other good bills that will be heard in the House Environmental Regulation Committee this Wednesday, April 1, 2009 at 10:30 am or upon adjournment of the House in the Capital extension – Hearing room E1.014. We are incouraging everyone who has a few minutes to stop by the committee room and put in cards supporting these six bills. The five bill numbers are listed below, followed by a brief description of the bill and why your support is important. Please send this message along to anyone else you think might be interested!

HB 1450, Rep. Rodriguez. Relating to the disposal and reuse of coal combustion waste.  HB 1450 establishes the disposal and reuse of coal combustion waste as a class I industrial waste and prohibits use as mine backfill. In addition, it requires groundwater and soil monitoring that must be made publically available.   We’ve been over this one before. Texas tops the list of states at risk from toxic coal ash waste, remember?  No bueno.

HB 557, Rep. Hernandez. Relating to the establishment of an air pollutant watch list and associated reports for the purpose of controlling the emissions of air contaminants under the Texas Clean Air Act.  HB 557 establishes an air pollutant watch list and associated reports for the purpose of controlling the emissions of air contaminants under the Texas Clean Air Act to protect against adverse effects related to :

(1) acid deposition;
(2) stratospheric changes, including depletion of ozone; [and]
(3) climatic changes, including global warming; and

(4) air pollution.

HB 769, Rep. Hernandez. Relating to standards for measuring the emission of air contaminants under the Texas Clean Air Act.  HB 769 requires TCEQ to set standards for measuring the emission of air contaminants under the Texas Clean Air Act that takes into consideration acute and chronic health effects on a person resulting from exposure to an air contaminant; the lifetime exposure of a person to the highest concentration of the air contaminant from an emission source; and does not increase the risk of cancer in a person exposed to the air contaminant by greater than one chance in 100,000.

HB 3428, Rep. Hernandez. Relating to measuring, monitoring, and reporting emissions.  HB 3428 requires TCEQ to establish and maintain an air pollutant watch list available online to the public.

HB 3422, Rep. Burnam. Relating to the establishment of a program for the collection, transportation, recycling, and disposal of mercury-containing lights.  HB 3422 establishes a program to safely dispose of and recycle mercury containing lights. It requires manufacturers to provide collection bins, to collect the bulbs and cover the costs of shipping to an appropriate facility. Mercury containing lightbulbs would have to be removed before buildings are demolished. The bill also has an important educational component.

You can register comment on all of these good bills in one fell swoop by visiting the House Environmental Regulation Committee hearing in E1.014 this morning.  Committee hearings are open to the public, and you can put your official stance on the record by just dropping a card.  If you can’t visit the Capitol today, why not give one of the fine legislators on this committee a call?

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Last week was pretty crazy for Austin — SXSW came in like a lion, and I’ll admit I am quite pleased that the city is laying quietly like a lamb once again.  But though Sixth Street may be back to its sleepy Monday morning self, Public Citizen’s office is back in full swing.  We’ve got a lot coming up this week: Solar Day in the Senate, Energy Efficiency hearings galore, a press conference and hearing on Sen. Ellis’ coal moratorium bill… and that just brings us to Tuesday.  But before we launch headfirst into the environmentalist’s version of March Madness, let’s take a moment to regroup from last week.

From the good folks at Alliance for a Clean Texas, check out this mid-week review.  A taste:

With meetings of the House and Senate State Affairs committees, House Energy Resources, House Environmental Regulation and not one but two meetings of the Senate Natural Resources Committee, the environmental agenda is in full swing in the 81st Session. This morning, Senator Lucio and Representative Gallego led a press conference highlighting legislation filed that supports investment in emerging renewable energy such as solar and geothermal. (The entire press packet is available here.) Among the benefits to investment in renewable energy? Green jobs, for one. (Stay on the lookout for green hardhats in the Capitol. You never know who’ll turn up wearing one.)

For more information on our St. Patty’s Day press conference with Sierra Club, check out Floor Pass’ Luck O’ the Lege post.  You heard right, the number of renewable energy bills this session has doubled compared to last.  As Mark Strama noted at the conference, “if you can just get everyone that filed a renewable energy bill to vote for a renewable energy bill, you’ll pass them all.”  We should be so lucky!

Legislators who have authored Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) bills held a press conference this morning to announce that the number of renewable energy bills filed has doubled from last session to this session. For those yet unfamiliar with the jargon, RPS is a policy tool that sets a goal for providing a certain percentage of total energy used from renewable sources like wind and biomass. You can find descriptions of the RPS bills here.

Check our Flickr photostream for photos from the press conference, and stay tuned to stay in the loop this week!

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