Texas House Declaws Enviro Commission, Makes Fighting Pollution That Much Harder

warrenchisum.jpg
Warren Chisum doesn't mind a little chisum in his drinking water.
Frackers, oil companies, plastics makers, wastewater managers -- more or less anyone who spews a little shit into our midst in order to keep things running around here has dumped some money into the lap of Rep. Warren Chisum, the Republican from Pampa heretofore known for his fight against gay marriage. This week, Chisum is doing his part to repay them, ushering an amendment through the state House that will make it considerably more difficult for communities to keep polluters from overdoing it.

The bill in question, which passed the House on Tuesday, technically keeps the state's already impotent environmental regulator, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, in place. But an amendment offered by Chisum makes sure the commission won't have to do too much work when doling out permits to potential polluters.

Currently, if someone files an objection to a permit application before the commission, it's up to the applicant to prove that it will follow the state's not-exactly-powerhouse regulations. It's a setup that makes sense, since the companies applying for the permits typically stand to make truckloads of money off of them, and the opposition typically stands to gain very little, unless you count the extra arm the growing out of Little Jimmy's back.

But under Chisum's amendment, the burden of proof will shift to whoever's contesting the permit -- often surrounding communities that don't have the resources prove their case. "This bill is one small step for the Texas House, and one giant leap for Texas polluters," Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, told the Associated Press. "Texans will feel the effects of this bill -- literally."

It wasn't the only amendment Chisum slipped into the bill: From the Statesman:
Another successful Chisum amendment cuts fees imposed on the delivery of petroleum products. The fee cuts would slice $7 million a year from a pool of money used to remediate pollution related to underground storage tanks, but Chisum said it would ultimately save drivers from pass-through costs at the gas pump.
The bill passed the House and is expected to breeze through the Senate, so it's not like Chisum's riding solo on this declawing mission. But it's no surprise he's the lead missionary, considering the generosity of energy interests and other polluters, which were responsible for a good third of the $100,000 he raised in the second half of last year alone.

You scratch my back, I'll make sure you have more money with which to scratch it. That's the saying, isn't it?

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21 comments
Marc
Marc

TCEQ is a transvestite anti-environment agency dressed up and pretending to be there to protect us from polluters. It is comprised of people from big polluter companies, primarily from the oil and gas industry. Anybody who has ever had any in-depth dealings with TCEQ knows that those people are idiots who do what they are told by the very people whom they are supposed to regulate. Sadly, they are in charge of protecting our air and water, which is why the EPA occasionally has to step in and do their job for them.

yeahIsaidthat
yeahIsaidthat

All of y'all that voted for Rick Perry will now have to live with yourselves.

abuckley1970
abuckley1970

We're going 'green' alright...isn't that what color the water turns when it's polluted? oh wait, I can't prove that.

Jim Bob Guthrie
Jim Bob Guthrie

The environment is overrated. When is Mr. Burns ... I mean Chisum, building that big bubble over Texas again?

El Rey
El Rey

"...and the opposition typically stands to gain very little, unless you count the extra arm the growing out of Little Jimmy's back."Just think, if Little Jimmy had a third arm, he could flip more burgers, pick more fruit, or catch a football better! Warren Chisum is a visionary! (Wait, did he get money from Jerry Jones...I smell a conspiracy.)

Glenn Hunter
Glenn Hunter

So if you complain that a company is polluting, under this amendment you have to actually prove that you know what you're talking about. And this is considered unreasonable?

Harvey
Harvey

They better make hay while they can. That's because there is a new generation about to take over. They are much smarter and have a ton more conscience than their parents and grandparents.

The are wonderful and they will a change. Go Millenials, it's you planet they want to flush down the universe's toilet.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

He seems to have served his Masters Well.All that action based on $100,000 to his campaign.For them it was money well spent.

Texas is a Business friendly State .

Erich S
Erich S

From now on I'm just gonna throw my Big Mac wrappers on the ground...it's GOP approved!

WCGasette
WCGasette

Chisum tried to get this amendment passed as a full-fledged bill...but when that didn't work it became this amendment..

Guest
Guest

On the plus side, our early deaths from pollution-related illnesses will help save Medicare a lot of money.

scottindallas
scottindallas

This is corporate socialism. Socializing the costs and privatizing the gains. This man is no capitalist, he is a SOCIALIST. That point needs to be driven home to his constituents. Let them eat benzene

zobzerto
zobzerto

Why are Republicans like this so hell-bent on moving our state backwards?? Oh yeah. Money.

This is so frustrating. But it's nothing new.

WarHead
WarHead

He's more interested in Plutonium-239 based profits derived from the Pantex plant in his district.

Jim Bob Guthrie
Jim Bob Guthrie

Putting the burden of proof on the party accusing you of something is reasonable, and that's the way this would work if it were a lawsuit in court. But that is not the proposal. Instead, this makes the person complaining to the TCEQ prove what they are complaining about, without any of the resources or power of the TCEQ.

It effectively shuts down the TCEQ because all citizen complaints have to be proven before they are heard. But the private citizens can't prove a darn thing because they don't have any power -- only the TCEQ has that power and the legislature won't let them use that power to help the citizen prove it. That's what you call a catch-22.

Harvey
Harvey

Yeah, I think it is unreasonable.

You see I've lost two guys who served with me in Nam brain cancer caused by Agent Orange in the last five years. I live with the knowledge that it can happen to me.

The government and business dumped that shit on us and led us to believe that it wouldn't harm us. The only thing we did to deserve this was to be in the service of our country in a land far far away.

So when guys like you point to guys like me as idiots for not believing government and business is doing stuff in our best interest, well, I go back forty plus years, great friends when friends were really needed, they're gone now. But I'll bet the guys like you who are so big business being part of big government don't get it, probably never will, no room in their small world for real heroes to die real deaths in the name of unharnessed greed.

I guess it's all about perspective, when you've been bit the snake you don't see it as your friend......

Montemalone
Montemalone

The pollution is a given.We're talking about state issued permits to pollute.The question is the amount and severity in addition to such trivial concerns as health and safety of people.We all know how open and forthright big polluters are.Just ask BP.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Unfortunately, it will lead to new diseases and diagnoses that will be costly to treat. That tab will also be picked up by the government. Just one more way this is good for bidness, bad for taxpayers.

El Rey
El Rey

It's not just Republicans, most of the old-school good ol' boys in the Texas Lege used to be Democrats. They just chase the campaign contributions and do whatever it takes to get elected. Remember when all of the Dallas judges flipped from Dem to Rep in the '90's? Then when the county shifted back in '08, they all got booted out of office.

In short, professional politicians are whores to the almighty dollar.

Nachoman
Nachoman

It isn't just our state its the whole country. One of the big things they were fighting for in the new budget were severe cuts to the EPA. Apparently wanting clean air and water is unamerician.

scottindallas
scottindallas

And, the TCEQ's regulations are likely to be considered the last word on the matter. We should just get rid of the the TCEQ and just allow citizens to sue. I guarantee you that the very existence of the TCEQ indemnifies these polluters from any legal liability.

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