Regan Templeton of KUT News and Reporting Texas researched and reported this article.
The Texas State Senate Natural Resources Committee handles the flow of legislation that includes water resources, air quality, oil and gas, waste, agriculture, and parks and wildlife. Republican Troy Fraser serves as the committee chair and Craig Estes serves as the vice-chair.
The committee is influential, as agriculture and energy make up a large portion of the Texas economy. In 2011, the committee was at the center of two important natural disasters: the drought and Bastrop wildfires. In June 2011, nearly two-thirds of the state had entered an “exceptional drought,” the most severe drought category. The drought caused concern over future availability of water in Texas.
The Texas Senate passed a bill in 2011 that recognized landowners’ “vested interest” in the water below their property. Fraser authored the bill. The bill was controversial because it pitted landowners’ rights against water conservation efforts.
In November 2011, the committee held a joint meeting with the Committee on Agricultural and Rural Affairs to determine the effects of the drought and wildfires on the Texas economy.
The committee is made up of nine Republicans and two Democrats. Committee members include Bob Deuell, Robert Duncan, Kevin Eltife, Glenn Hegar, Juan Hinojosa, Mike Jackson, Robert Nichols, Kel Seliger, and Carlos Uresti.