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Here at the Senators on the Natural Resources and Economic Committee. If any of these are your Senators you may want to contact them right away.
I just received the message below from David Frederick. David represented us in our successful battle to stop the rock crusher at Center Point Texas. His firm has also worked with the Friends of the Brazos in their battle to protect the in stream flows in the Brazos.
He is warning us about a bad bill that would eliminate the possibility of getting a contested case hearing from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. As you know, it is through contested case hearings (or the threat to have one) that this organization has been able to successfully stop things like that rock crusher, or some bad sewage treatment plants.
He will explain how you can contact your state senator and state representative to ask him or her to defeat this bill.
Tom Goynes, president
Texas Rivers Protection Association
This email is an “alert” to warn you of a bad bill at the legislature that, if enacted, will further hamstring regular citizens in their efforts to challenge new or expanded pollution sources in the citizens’ areas.
Senate Bill (“SB”) 1628 seeks to abolish the trial-like process that is available to citizens in permitting proceedings at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. This process, known at the legislature as the “contested case hearing process,” allows citizens worried about new or expanding industrial pollution risks to have live witnesses and to cross-examine live industry witnesses and to take depositions and the like before environmental permits are issued (or, maybe, denied), when citizens challenge the issuance of new permits or amendments of old permits.
Industry lobbyists have been pushing for this sort of roll-back of citizen rights since at least 1995. Mostly, these attempts have failed, but, most legislative sessions, there nonetheless have been small erosions of citizen rights — some “streamlining” has occurred that puts additional barriers in front of citizens. It is quite silly, if you think about it. Industry is thriving in Texas. There is no believable evidence that there is too much citizen meddling in agency decision making and that that participation hobbles Texas industry and our economy.
The bill may be read here: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/Text.aspx?LegSess=85R&Bill=SB1628 if you care to read it. It is not calculated to make any sense to a non-lawyer or to anyone without a lot of experience in the permitting field.
Most folks receiving this email have had some experience with the contested case hearing process. You know that it gives the “little guy” a meaningful shot at exposing the problems with permit applications. Even if you did not win, absolutely, you likely got some improvements in the permit that ultimately issued, and you made your industry opponent take you seriously, going forward.
You have benefited from efforts that people like yourself made 10 or 20 years ago to squelch earlier bad bills like SB 1628. Please pay that benefit forward. This is an ever-ongoing battle between (1) the CEOs of industry and their henchmen and (2) you and your neighbors to determine which of the two of you bears most environmental risks. Please take a moment to call your State Representative and Senator (don’t just email) and leave that person a message that you are opposed to SB 1628; tell that person you value the right to have a real — not just a window-dressing — role in environmental decision making.
You can get the information on your Representative and Senator here:
FREDERICK, PERALES, ALLMON & ROCKWELL, PC
1206 SAN ANTONIO
AUSTIN, TEXAS 78701
(512) 469-6000 / 482-9346 (facsimile)=