Join a People's Hearing on TCEQ Sunset Review Process

wed08jun5:00 pmwed7:00 pmJoin a People's Hearing on TCEQ Sunset Review ProcessIs the state environmental regulator doing a good job?

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Logging issues w/ TCEQ enforcement via For Our Communities.

As the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality goes through its once-every-12-years Sunset Review process in the hopes of determining if the agency is fulfilling its mission of protecting the health and wellbeing of the people of the state, opportunities to engage are emerging.

You can register for a “People’s Hearing” being held on June 8, 2022.

You can read the TCEQ’s own self-evaluation here. Or jump ahead to the state’s Sunset Commission’s take here, where some of the TCEQ’s shortcomings—including lax enforcement and inadequate transparency—are lamented.

There are opportunities to comment through the state systems or via a coalition of environmental interest groups (See: For Our Communities).

Also: Watch for the official Sunset Review public hearing on June 22, 2022 (tentative).

From the TCEQ:

The Sunset Advisory Commission is reviewing the mission and performance of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and welcomes public comments on whether the agency is still needed and ideas to improve its operations and services. The Texas Sunset Act requires the Sunset Commission to periodically review TCEQ and recommend whether to continue the agency and change state law to improve the agency’s efficiency and effectiveness. The Legislature ultimately will decide whether to continue TCEQ and adopt Sunset’s other statutory recommendations. The Sunset Commission also may adopt management directives for TCEQ that do not require statutory change.

The Sunset process has three stages. First, Sunset staff will evaluate TCEQ, seek public input, and issue a report recommending solutions to problems found. Second, the Sunset Commission will hold two public meetings: a hearing on the staff report and the agency, and a decision meeting to adopt recommendations to the Legislature based on the report and public comments. Third, the Legislature will convene in January 2023 and will consider Sunset’s statutory recommendations in a Sunset bill for TCEQ.

Cases lacking sufficient environmental enforcement are frequently the subject of investigative reporting. See a handful of cases mapped above as compiled by For Our Communities initiative.

The Sunset Advisory Commission’s Summary Findings unpack some of the “confusions and misperceptions” about how the TCEQ functions:

The state’s environmental regulator, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) charts a path between often competing objectives to promote public health and safety, protect the state’s natural resources and environment, and foster economic growth. TCEQ faces a unique challenge — to protect the public and the state from dangers associated with the very activities TCEQ is required to permit and regulate, namely the emission, discharge, or disposal of hazardous chemicals and pollution into the air, water, and soil.

Overall, the Sunset review found TCEQ performs admirably administering its complex programs and should be continued. However, the Sunset review also observed confusion and misperceptions about how and why TCEQ makes certain decisions, which contributes to a concerning level of distrust of the agency — by regulated entities, environmental advocates, public officials, and the general public.

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