Public Input Sought Next Week on TCEQ Review

Texans will have an opportunity to personally express their comments and concerns next week (Dec. 15, 16) when the Sunset Advisory Commission holds its final public hearing of the year on its formal review of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) at the State Capitol. This will be the final opportunity to communicate to the commission about our state environmental agency before it decides on formal recommendations to the 82nd Legislature.

Those especially concerned about Texas air quality should know that this review process happens just once every 12 years and represents the best opportunity to air grievances and suggest changes to the agency and its operations.

What is Sunset Review?
In Texas, all state agencies are required to undergo a review process every 12 years. The Sunset Advisory Commission, an independent state agency composed of 12 members appointed by the Lieutenant Governor and the Speaker of the House, is in charge of the process. The purpose of this formal audit is to:

  • assess the need to retain the agency;
  • look for potential duplication of programs with other state agencies; and
  • consider changes to improve agency operation.

This year, TCEQ was under review. Part of the review process required that the agency put together a self-evaluation report outlining changes that the agency itself sees as necessary. As part of the review process, the Sunset Commission was required to:

  • seek public input through interviews and discussions with external interested parties;
  • conduct its own analysis and audit;
  • meet with TCEQ staff; and
  • develop a Staff report.

What changes in air quality have we suggested?
While the Sunset Commission made several good recommendations, such as increasing the statutory cap on emission limits, the report specifically did not address some additional issues of concern regarding air quality, such as:

  1. Adoption of the Air Pollution Watch List Protocol into rule (see previous blog about APWL);
  2. Adoption of air monitoring screening guidelines into rule, which would have provided more enforcement in APWL areas; and
  3. Giving TCEQ clear discretion to deny an air permit.

How can you participate?
Attend the public hearings next week Dec. 15, 16 and hear testimony from Sunset Commission staff, TCEQ and other concerned citizens. To learn more about the sunset process or the upcoming hearings, visit the Alliance for a Clean Texas, and also read its response to the Sunset Report. Adoption of the Sunset Commission’s management and statutory recommendations regarding TCEQ will take place Jan. 12, 2011. These recommendations are then submitted to the 82nd Texas Legislature.

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