Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

What to Watch For at the Texas Legislature This Week

Photo by Nika. http://www.flickr.com/photos/nika/

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.)

Railroad Commission Name Change and More 

The Texas Railroad Commission’s misguiding name could change to the Texas Energy Resources Commission, if a bill, SB 212 by Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, passes the legislature. The bill would also implement changes to the agency outlined in a 2011 Sunset review that didn’t pass  last session, such as authorizing the commission to impose a fee for permitting pipelines to help pay for safety programs. The Senate Natural Resources Committee will discuss the bill Tuesday morning.

Saltwater Pipelines for Fracking Fluid

Hydraulic Fracturing uses a lot of water. It also produces a lot of waste water. A bill, SB 514 by Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, could allow for the transport of used liquid by pipeline instead of by truck. The Railroad Commission would have oversight.  The Senate Natural Resources Committee will discuss the bill Tuesday morning.

Beach Closure for Space Flights

Sunbathing near a space flight launch could be dangerous. A bill, SB 1574 by Sen. Eddie Lucio, D-Brownsville, would make sure the General Land Office can temporarily close public beaches nearby a proposed South Texas space launch site. The Senate Natural Resources Committee will discuss the bill Tuesday morning.

Changes to Environmental Flow Regulations

A bill, SB 1894 by Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe bay, could alter the way environmental flow plans are reviewed. Environmental flows are the waters that must flow through Texas’ rivers into the ocean to maintain a sound ecosystem. The Senate Natural Resources Committee will discuss the bill Tuesday morning. Previously: “What Are ‘Environmental Flows’ and How Does Texas Protect Them?”

Customer Notification About Water Loss

If a public water utility loses more than 10 percent of its total water supply, the utility could have to notify customers on their billing statement according to a bill, HB 1641 by Rep. Jimmie Aycock, R-Killeen. The bill would also require public utilities to explain how the water was lost. The House Natural Resources Committee will discuss the legislation Tuesday morning.

Definition of Drought 

What exactly is “drought?” A bill, HB 1776 by Rep. Matt Schaefer, R-Tyler, would define drought in Texas as a level of dry weather considered “exceptional” or D4 on the National Drought Mitigation Center’s Drought Severity Classification scheme. The classification would be used for emergency orders concerning water rights issued by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), as

Only in Texas, Big Honors

Where the buffalo roam? The first week of May could be designated Texas Bison week by SCR 20 authored by Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls.

Hats off to Garland. The City of Garland could be designated the Cowboy Hat Capital of Texas by HCR 96 authored by Rep. Ryan Guillen, D-Rio Grande City.

Break in your boots before you head to the City of Canton, it could be declared the Walking Capital of Texas by SCR 13, which was authored by Sen. Bob Deuell, R-Greenville.

Wait an hour after eating before you swim. Texas could name April as water safety month if SCR 1 authored by Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, passes.

The honorary bills (and more) will be discussed at the House Culture, Recreation and Tourism Committee meeting Wednesday afternoon.

David Barer is a reporting intern for StateImpact Texas. 


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