By Robin Schneider
TCE Executive Director
In 2019 Texas Campaign for the Environment worked with neighbors of waste facilities or proposed waste facilities to get two good bills passed into law.
HB 1331 by Rep. Ed Thompson will raise the application fee for solid waste permits so that taxpayers and consumers are footing less of the bill for polluting facilities. That bill has been signed by the Governor.
HB 1435 also by Rep. Ed Thompson will require TCEQ to actually visit a proposed waste site before they approve its permit and verify some of the information in its application. This bill requires rule-making and the TCEQ Executive Director Toby Baker stated that his agency plans to do a wider look at the rules on trash facilities after the session ended.
These bills were important steps forward for improving the waste industry in Texas and they send a message to our environmental agency that they need to act to make even more changes soon.
TCE helped defeat some legislation that would have made it more difficult to oppose pollution permits and pre-empt local governments when it came to waste facilities and tree ordinances, for instance.
Unfortunately, some bad legislation was passed despite objections from TCE and our supporters and allies HB 2771 to begin the process of dumping waste from fracking into Texas waterways. There were also many other laws we and allies sought that went nowhere because special interests got them bottled up.
This was the session after the monumental climate disaster of Hurricane Harvey. Instead of getting down to business on how to prevent future loss of life and property damage, the state legislators passed HB 3557 a bill to over-criminalize people who are putting their bodies on the line to protect our planet and the people and other living things on it. People who engage in peaceful and non-violent action now face felonies.
On Sunday, filibuster could have killed this bill but not one Senator was willing to step up and defend our civil liberties and the rights of planet protectors.
Just last Wednesday a lawsuit was filed a similar law in Louisiana. It’s highly likely that our taxpayer dollars are going to be spent defending this unconstitutional law in Texas too. This was a travesty.
The supporters of this bill used under-handed methods and frankly lied to advocates to pass this bill. It’s no exaggeration to say that powerful polluting industries such as the oil and gas industry own the Capitol building.
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