This is first in a series of weekly updates on bills in the Texas Legislature that address environmental issues in the final weeks of the session. Photos courtesy of the state of Texas.

May 12, 2015 

With the 84th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature only three weeks from closing June 1, bill consideration is fast and furious. Emphasis on “furious,” for green-loving folks, given the heavy load of environmentally adverse bills. There are also some green ones.

This Green Lege Update is to help readers follow bills that are up for action this week. It’s now or never to weigh in, by contacting committee members and/or district representatives. See below for contact info.

Bill descriptions are condensed from summaries by Alliance for a Clean Texas.  Italicized comments on the bill's intent or anticipated effects are based on reporting over the session or quoted from expert observers.


Scheduled for Monday, May 11, hearing in the Senate Agriculture, Water and Rural Affairs Committee 

Any of these bills passed out of committee Monday proceed to a final Senate floor vote, possibly next week, the last stop before Gov. Abbott’s desk for possible signing.

Right, Texas Senate floor. 

HB 1902 by Howard. Requires the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to adopt rules and standards for additional uses and sources of household gray water for residential use, such as air conditioning condensate and water from washing machines, showers and other sources. Potential for significant water conservation. 

HB 1232 by Lucio III. Provides for a study by the Texas Water Development Board to map and analyze the quality and quantity of water in aquifers around the state. Among other benefits, could deter the current permitting of wastewater disposal without public knowledge of aquifers’ location, tributaries or water quantity and quality.


Scheduled for a House floor vote Wednesday

HB 1472 by Workman. "Exposes cities to compensatory damages and attorneys' fees of plaintiffs, such as developers, if the court deems their grandfathered 'vested rights' are violated. HB 1472 would produce a chilling effect on cities’ ability to devise ordinances," said Rita Beving of ACT.

Right, Texas House floor. 

"Conceivably, under this bill oil and gas operators could claim that the Denton fracking ban violated their "vested" rights deemed by the state of Texas to "fully exploit" their mineral rights…and (sue) the city…for attorney's fees and corporate compensatory "damages" for the delay in developing those rights," summarizes Beving.  

Senate Natural Resources & Economic Development Committee, Tuesday, May 12

If passed out of committee, this bill will move to the Senate for final floor vote.  

HB 1794 by Geren (SB 1509 by Hancock) – Limits the penalties assessed to a polluter by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to $50 - $25,000 per day for 120 days, capped thereafter at $1,000 per day. The bill also sets a statute of limitations of filing suit within 5 years.

The penalty limits and statute of limitations herein would have precluded important Texas environmental clean-ups in the past from being successfully prosecuted, according to Tom (Smitty) Smith of Public Citizen.


Who Represents Me?

Senate Agriculture, Water and Rural Affairs Committee 

Senate Committee on Natural Resources & Economic Development Committee

Alliance for a Clean Texas – A citizen advocacy alliance of 15 environmental, public interest, consumer rights and faith groups.groups.

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