Yana Skorobogatov of StateImpact Texas researched and reported this article.
At a public hearing today in Austin, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality heard from groups worried about proposed changes to the way the state agency tracks emissions and pollution by companies. A proposal before the Commission as part of the state’s sunset review process would change the criteria for businesses to qualify for environmental permits.
Tom “Smitty” Smith, director of Public Citizen Texas, says the new rules could move businesses with poor histories of environmental compliance into the same category as businesses with average or high compliance. “It’s kind of like grading on the curve, and changing the curve to make sure that more people pass the exams and are given privileges that they perhaps don’t deserve,” he told StateImpact Texas.
A TCEQspokesman said the rule change is meant to create incentives to encourage voluntary compliance with environmental regulations. In a statement to StateImpact Texas, the spokesperson said that “the proposed rulemaking modifies the components and formula of compliance history in order to provide a more accurate measure of regulated entities’ performance and make compliance history a more effective regulatory tool.”
The three-person governing commission will close comment on the proposal on March 12, and it will go before the commission for a vote this summer, according to the TCEQ.