Texas House Bill Would Make It Harder To Stop Polluters

AUSTIN (AP/CBSDFW.COM) – The Texas House passed legislation Tuesday that would make it harder for citizens and activists to block permits for industrial plants that emit pollutants into the air and water.

Texas already leads the nation in industrial pollution, and environmentalists say the legislation would make the state even dirtier. Under the bill that continues the functions of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, people who complain in “contested hearings” about waste from power plants, feed lots, cement makers and other industrial facilities would have to prove the pollution controls are inadequate or that emissions exceed accepted standards.

Under current law, the burden of proof is on the companies applying for the permit.

Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, said the change is needed so that power plants and other facilities don’t run into so much opposition that they don’t build needed industrial infrastructure.

“It kind of levels the playing field,” Chisum said. “Too many times these contested case hearings have just been to not do anything else but extend the permit process until people just virtually have rolled up their stuff and left.”

Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, called the bill a “major victory” for polluters.

“This bill is one small step for the Texas House, and one giant leap for Texas polluters,” he said. “Texans will feel the effects of this bill — literally.”

The amendment was tucked into legislation that would keep the TCEQ as the state’s environmental protection agency for another 12 years. The bill is required as part of the “sunset” process that phases out agencies unless the Legislature specifically re-authorizes them. The bill faces a final procedural hurdle before moving to the state Senate.

Democrats portrayed the TCEQ as the lapdog of industrial polluters but were shot down on a variety of amendments trying to give the agency more teeth.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been battling Texas over air pollution for several years.  Late last year, the federal agency took over from the state the process of granting certain kinds of industrial permits.  The EPA said Texas’ system for granting the permits violated the Clean Air Act.

Environmentalists did score one victory: Chisum withdrew a proposal that would have allowed polluters to pay a single fine for violations for which regulators currently can assess multiple sanctions.

Copyright 2011 CBS Local Media.  The Associated Press contributed to this report.

  • http://fortworthinsight.com/news/texas-house-bill-would-make-it-harder-to-stop-polluters/ Texas House Bill Would Make It Harder To Stop Polluters « Fort Worth News Feeds

    […] Texas House Bill Would Make It Harder To Stop Polluters The Texas House passed legislation Tuesday that would make it harder for citizens to block permits for industrial plants that emit pollutants. Go to News Source […]

  • Rick McDaniel

    Is Texas stupid?

    The environment is being destroyed, and the state wants to support allowing industry to make it WORSE?

    Rep. Chisum is a lunatic. Hopefully, the Texas Senate will not be so foolish.

    • Hope

      Don’t be so optimistic Rick, Perry and his cronies are all for this bill. And the TCEQ is entirely staffed by Perry appointees.

  • Gary

    Rick Perry could careless about the air quality of this state and has proved it time and time again. As long as big business wants it, he’ll gladly give it to them. We have long been the most polluted state and every republican governor has given free rein as long as they give them the contributions come election time. It’s all about the money!

  • John Weiss

    Rick Perry is a maroon. The pic above is showing steam, hardly air pollution.

  • Reeper

    Well of course they did, they don’t care who they kill in their quest for gold and they surely don’t represent the people, only money. Remember they are also pulling aide to health care for exactly the same reason, they know it’s harming people and only the rich shall survive in their world.

    Yes we need more air/water pollution so these people can make a buck that if they spent a buck wouldn’t cause so much pollution. Remember there is a town in Oklahoma that is so polluted with that kind of greed the residents where forced to leave and the place is being bulldozed down, yet that is what Texas wants?

    Human error caused Three mile island, lack of water caused Japan’s nuke crisis and Chernobyl was just a fluke that didn’t harm anyone. So what if these plants when they are no longer operational still have to contain their deadly waste, you don’t have any enemies that would blow them up now do you. If the Twin Towers couldn’t hold up to the pressure of large planes, think nuke plants could? Why are people having health problems from cleaning up cement in NY if it won’t harm people to breath the stuff?

    How about a proposition that anyone who voted for this bill, paid money to get it presented (those same ones that want to pollute you and live elsewhere), or had anything to do with it’s promotion has to move right next door to one of those contested polluters and live out the rest of their live there with no options to move if it affects their health. Most you’ll get is a 1 week vacation away once a year, otherwise you have to choke on your own garbage for life.

    I’m not party affiliated, I am a true American who is disgusted with the way this State is conducting business on a greedy/corrupt basis. What the yo-yo’s don’t understand is they may be able to temp. prevent the EPA from protecting us via their votes, but new sources can come along and fine not only those causing the pollution, but take away every penny of those who voted to harm their people with it. Egypt is not so far away and those greedy/corrupt leaders have lost everything which is true justice.

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  • Ward in the Woods

    Justice for Texas!

  • Jim

    This is the most ridiculous bill I have seen. Only in Texas would this type of thing even be proposed.

    • Reeper

      Not only proposed, but it will probably pass given the current state of corruption.

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