TCEQ will soon be making some big decisions on how to implement reforms passed during the last legislative session, especially on its penalty policy–and your input is needed quickly:
- Comments are due on August 30th
Last session, Public Citizen worked with a partnership, The Alliance for a Clean Texas (ACT), and thanks to the efforts of thousands of citizens who joined forces with ACT, the Texas Legislature made some very important improvements to TCEQ’s laws regarding enforcement policies and penalties for polluters.
Lawmakers raised penalties to $25,000 per violation and told TCEQ to minimize the economic benefit to polluters of breaking the law. Now, to make these new policies work, TCEQ commissioners must adopt rules that address:
- The economic impact of decisions to pollute (The state auditor has previously found that fines are 1/8 of the economic value gained by violating the law.)
- How to assess fines for repeat violators.
- Whether to assess a separate fine to each permit violation or just one per overall incident, called speciation. (This can make a huge difference in the size of the fines and the incentive for companies to not pollute.)
- Whether to put TCEQ’s enforcement policies into the rules or just adopt them as general guidelines. (Putting the policies into rule makes them stronger and harder for the TCEQ to let polluters off with inadequate penalties.)
Comments are due August 30th on these rules. To sign on to ACT’s draft comments, go here. You may also use them to develop for your own comments. You can find tips about writing comments here. Go here for the TCEQ Sunset Process hub on the ACT website.