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With SB 471, TCEQ is useless as teats on a boar hog

Updated: May 21, 2023


Steve Box is a scientist, not a politician
Steve Box, founder and director of Environmental Stewardship

"The bill enumerates the many different ways the TCEQ is not required to investigate a complaint, stripping away yet another public right and leaving us defenseless against the polluters the TCEQ, and the Legislature, are enabling!” Steve Box, Environmental Stewardship.


A hearing on SB 471 is scheduled for Wednesday, May 10 at 9 am by the TX House Environmental Regulation Committee. The bill has­­ already cleared the Senate.


We're gonna tell you why SB 471 TCEQ is useless. Options for what you can do, after you read this article:

Environmental Stewardship v. the Reluctant Regulator


Steve Box is an environmental hero who calls TCEQ "the reluctant regulator." He is a scientist. not a politician and therefore likely being too nice. For the last twelve years, we at LIV have trusted Steve's independent advocacy for the tools needed to protect our water supply -- groundwater and surface water -- in perpetuity.

Senate Bill 471 (SB 471), was authored by Senator Drew Springer (R-Muenster, Senate District 30). We steal a paragraph and quote about the legislation from an expert, Tim Doty, who was interviewed in this Texas Tribune article, published on April 17:

"Tim Doty, an independent environmental consultant, and former TCEQ air-monitoring employee, said responding to citizen complaints is part of the agency’s job: “Just because it doesn’t lead to an enforcement action doesn’t mean your complaint is not valid.”

Pigs fly when making the rules at TCEQ
Pigs need to fly out of TCEQ leadership

TCEQ Pigs Can Fly


Senate Bill 471 (SB 471), was authored by Senator Drew Springer (R-Muenster, Senate District 30). We steal a paragraph and quote about the legislation from an expert, Tim Doty, who was interviewed in this Texas Tribune article, published on April 17:


Tim Doty, an independent environmental consultant, and former TCEQ air-monitoring employee, said responding to citizen complaints is part of the agency’s job: “Just because it doesn’t lead to an enforcement action doesn’t mean your complaint is not valid.”


For those of you who believe environmental protection in Texas will not happen until pigs fly, we both agree and we disagree. We know the "industry lobby monolith" really does run the show at the Texas Lege. The Environmental Regulation Committee has plenty of special interest influence on it. That said, if we don't complain, we're not in a good position in the next round to DO something about it. And, remember, the bill hasn't passed the House yet.


More from independent expert, Tim Doty

Doty sounded the alarm for us here at LIV with this email about the risks this bill poses, and how difficult it will be to unwind if it passes:


"Whether you realize it or not, the submission of environmental complaints to the TCEQ is one of the most powerful tools in your toolbox. This proposed bill as written will negatively impact your ability to get the TCEQ to address your environmental concerns at industrial sites and properties around Texas…If this bill is not stopped and delayed at this House Committee level, it will pass and will be the law of the land in Texas. I will guarantee you that no one will be happier than the TCEQ - less work and less responsibility. If we do not band together to stop this bill, each of you will eventually regret the inaction because you will lose power and leverage to minimize environmental impacts around the state."


Doty makes the point that we will all suffer a long list of negative impacts if the Agency no longer has the benefit of its enforcement and complaint histories to inform its evaluations of, and its judgments about industry performance.

Don’t we need a proactive “Texas Commission on Environmental Quality” to ensure clean water and clean air, and to protect our natural environment and human health from the risks of pollution? SB 471 instead promises the opposite result. It gives TCEQ the green light many of us have suspected the agency has wanted for decades --- permission to ignore one of its core functions of conducting environmental investigations, by simply ignoring complaints from the constituents it is sworn to protect ---- that would be US!

PS TCEQ is under review by the Sunset Commission chaired by Sen. Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown). Where is he when every Texan really needs him to reverse the notion that TCEQ is useless?

Have at it -- SB 471 -- folks!

The independent political movement is on its way if you stay in the game. And become a member of LIV today and get active with us. We meet every week on Monday nights.


For more information, please read LIV's News section and our "Big Squeeze" page.




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