Get tough on environmental crimes
Texas law requires that the our state environmental agency, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), consider a facility’s past compliance when making decisions regarding permits or inspections. In fact, a facility’s Compliance History score affects every bit of its business with the TCEQ.
New rules currently proposed by the TCEQ to the Compliance History program would possibly bump up thousands of previously categorized “poor” performers to an “average” classification without having removed an ounce of pollution from our air and water. The TCEQ has introduced even more limitations which will only further serve to keep every facility average. These changes include increasing the score by which a performer falls into the poor category, separating repeat violations by media (i.e. administrative violations vs specific emissions violations), giving the TCEQ Executive Director extraordinary authority to change a facility’s classification, and handing out bonus points for ill-defined and unregulated voluntary measures that a facility can implement.
If the Compliance History program reforms go forward as currently written, we will be missing out on two major opportunities by continuing to pretend that all facilities in this state are average.
- First, we miss a chance to implement the type of regulation that a lot of people in our state prefer.
- Second, and most importantly, we miss a huge opportunity to try to clean up the air and water around our state in a business friendly manner.
At a time when the challenge of grappling with an increasing array of environmental and health threats to our state and its population gets harder every day, we cannot afford to let such opportunities pass us by. We urge the TCEQ to reconsider its Compliance History rules, and deliver a program that works to the people of the state of Texas.
The public has a chance to weigh in on these rules and we ask you to consider coming to the public hearing on March 6th or sending comments to the TCEQ by March 12th. Tell them:
- Don’t pardon the polluters by increasing the threshold for being declared a poor performer
- Don’t give the executive director the right to pardon polluters
- Don’t give polluters a get out of jail free card for signing up for “defensive polluting” classes
As we know from our criminal justice system, swift sure and certain punishment deters crime. We should apply these lessons to environmental crime too
Public Hearing : TCEQ will hold a public hearing on this proposal in Austin on March 6, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. in Building E, Room 201S, at the commission’s central office located at 12100 Park 35 Circle.
Comments can be submitted by March 12, 2012.
- via TCEQ’s eComments page – http://www5.tceq.state.tx.us/rules/ecomments/
- via mail: Texas Register Team – MC 205
General Law Division
Office of Legal Services
P.O. Box 13087
Austin, TX 78711-3087
- via fax to 512-239-4808
Tips on Commenting Effectively
You will be providing comments for the rulemaking – 2011-032-060-CE: HB 2694 (4.01 and Article 4): Compliance History
- Identify who you are and why the regulation affects you;
- Explain why you agree or disagree with the proposed rulemaking;
- Be direct in your comment; and
- Offer alternatives, compromise solutions, and specific language for your suggested changes.