Matt Stamey Staff photographer, Gainesville Sun /Landov
Several bills pertaining to water, the environment and public policy will be discussed at the Texas Capitol this week.
In the gauntlet that is the Texas Legislature, the bills that have made it this far are looking at the final few obstacles in the way of becoming law.
StateImpact Texas has compiled a short list of bills pertaining to water, the environment and energy that could be heard by House and Senate this week.
HB 788 by Rep. Wayne Smith, R-Baytown, would put the job of permitting greenhouse gas emissions into the hands of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). Permitting is currently done by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Proponents of the bill, namely oil and gas interests, say the TCEQ could issue permits more quickly and alleviate the bottleneck of projects. Opponents the bill, like the Sierra Club and Public Citizen, say the legislation takes out contested case hearings that allow regular citizens to voice their opposition to certain projects. The bill has already passed the House, and was placed on the Senate calendar Monday for a second reading. Continue Reading →
The Texas House passed several bills this week that could affect Texas' water and how it is used.
The flow of water legislation continued this week as the House passed several bills that could affect one of Texas’ dearest natural resources. Thursday was the deadline for most bills originating in the House to come to floor for a vote. (The Senate has some more time, however.)
StateImpact Texas compiled a short list of some notable water bills that were passed out of the House and now head to the Senate for consideration.
However, one bill that would have put big money towards water projects in Texas is notably absent from the list. HB 11, by state Rep. Allan Ritter, R-Nederland, a landmark piece of water legislation that would have used $2 billion from the state’s Rainy Day Fund to finance water projects across Texas, was sunk last week.
The blind salamander is one of Texas' endangered species. A new bill passing through the House could move Texas' endangered species monitoring duties from the Comptroller to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
Earlier: The Texas House could vote today on a bill that would strip the Texas Comptroller’s office of its endangered species monitoring duties and send the job over to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
Advocates of the legislation, like Bill Stevens, a government affairs consultant for the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers who lobbied for the bill, say the switch could help keep potential species off the endangered species list. The listing of species can invite federal intrusion and hinder business.
“We need a more transparent and broader state-government involvement,” Stevens told StateImpact.
A supercell storm west of Newcastle, Texas tries to build up strength April 9, 2013. The Texas Legislature passed a couple bills regarding water Wednesday but stopped short of discussing landmark bill HB 11.
Quicker than a spring thunderstorm, the House Natural Resources Committee met and pushed forward several bills at the Capitol this morning. While several smaller pieces of legislation were approved, representatives at the meeting managed to avoid talk of HB 11, a marquee piece of water legislation torpedoed on the House floor Monday evening.
A bill promoting rainwater collection and another regarding water loss reporting by utilities were “voted favorably as substituted.” In other words, they were voted out of committee.
The rainwater collection bill, HB 2781 by Rep. Allen Fletcher, R-Cypress, would allow people with a public water supply connection to collect rainwater for potable purposes.
A man dressed as a nuclear waste drum stands in front of protesters holding hands on March 9, 2013 in the center of Paris. New legislation in Texas could promote the importation of more radioactive waste.
Update, May 1, 2013: The Senate has passed SB 791. The bill could allow states around the U.S. to import more of the “hotter” radioactive waste into a West Texas disposal facility and limit contested case hearings. Several amendments to the bill were passed, including ones that would make generators of radioactive waste responsible for the cost of transportation accident cleanup, allow for random audits of shipments of radioactive waste into the site and affect the Compact Commission Executive Director’s ability to modify disposal licenses. The bill now moves to the House Environmental Regulation Committee.
Original story, March 26, 2013: A controversial new bill could encourage states from around the country to send waste with higher levels of radiation to Texas. The legislation prompted some heated debate at a Senate Natural Resources Committee meeting today at the Capitol.
The bill, SB 791, by Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, would allow “hotter” radioactive waste into West Texas’ only radioactive waste disposal site, which started running last year after many years of controversy and debate, which continued in part today. Continue Reading →
While it's called the Railroad Commission of Texas, it actually deals with regulating oil and gas in the state. A name change could be in the works this legislative session.
Update, May 2, 2013: The Senate Bill passed on the Senate floor today, and now heads to the House.
Original story, April 24, 2013:
SB 212, which would change the name of the Railroad Commission of Texas to the Texas Energy Resources Commission passed out committee today. The bill would also restrict campaign contributions for Commissioners, their ability to run for a different office while overseeing the Commission and institute a pipeline permit fee. There were no amendments. The bill now heads to the Senate floor.
The Railroad Commission wields a big stick in Texas. It regulates the state’s most profitable industry, oil and gas, and all Texans elect its three commissioners. One thing the Railroad Commission doesn’t control, however, is railroads.
Few oppose a more apt title for the agency, but wrapped up in the legislation are also rules restricting campaign contributions for commissioners and their ability to run for a different office while overseeing the commission.
What “we’d like to see changed in the bill are the resign-to-run [provision] and the two ethics financial issues,” relative newcomer Commissioner Christi Craddick said during testimony. “But otherwise I’d like to see this bill move.” Continue Reading →
“There’s often been tension between Texas and Oklahoma. A dispute over the state boundary line dates back nearly 200 years. And for more than a century Texas and OU football teams have clashed in the Red River Rivalry. Tuesday, the latest skirmish goes before the U.S. Supreme Court when the State of Oklahoma and the Tarrant Regional Water District in Fort Worth argue over water rights.”
State lawmakers will discuss whether to recognize the City of Garland at the cowboy hat capital of Texas this week.
Time is winding down at the State Legislature, but the pace is picking up.
We’ve put together a list of some important bills on energy and the environment up for discussion this week. They tackle the Railroad Commission, fracking, drought and more. But they aren’t all serious, a House committee will discuss a slew of honorifics as well.
(The bills are not listed in any particular order, and the list isn’t meant to be comprehensive.)
The bill for the latter, HB 2781, would allow people with a public water supply connection to collect rainwater for potable purposes. People living in rural, unincorporated areas already have that right.
Rep. Allen Fletcher, R-Cypress, said when he started writing the legislation he didn’t realize he was writing a cleanup bill for legislation passed in the last session. A previous bill, written by Rep. Doug Miller, R-New Braunfels, who sits on the Natural Resources Committee, was supposed to allow most people to install potable rainwater collection systems, but complications with the language in the bill stopped it short of its original intent.
“It was brought to my attention that the people of Texas weren’t being allowed to use their rainwater at their homes as they saw fit and I just thought it was common sense legislation,” Fletcher said.