April 6, 2018

Win: Texas Governor Lifts Post-Harvey Suspension of Environmental Protections

Statement of Adrian Shelley, Director, Public Citizen’s Texas Office

Note: Nine groups, including Public Citizen, on Wednesday called on the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to end the suspension of 46 public health and environmental protections suspended in response to Hurricane Harvey. On Friday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s office lifted the suspension.

We want to thank Governor Abbott and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for their quick action. The public spoke up about their concerns and the state responded. Environmental rules are there to protect the public and it’s important that they stay in place and are enforced.

Generally, we don’t think that rule suspensions are appropriate. The TCEQ always can choose not to fine facilities that pollute during a disaster. But with 46 environmental rules having been suspended across 60 counties for six months, there could be consequences to public health. If TCEQ chose to enforce against any violations that occurred during that time, companies might use the rule suspension as a defense against enforcement. This could limit the TCEQ’s ability to hold polluters accountable. When the next disaster happens, the governor should leave our public health and environmental protections in place.

We are happy with the outcome today, and we thank Governor Greg Abbott and the TCEQ for taking this step to protect the people of Texas.