The Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club was recently given the opportunity to comment on the proposed 2020-21 budget for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC), and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD).
What is the Sierra Club?
The Sierra Club is a nonprofit, member-supported public interest organization that promotes conservation of the natural environment by influencing public policy decisions.
It was founded by preservationist John Muir in May 1892 and is one of the world’s first large-scale environmental preservation organizations.
Summary of Comments:
Comments about Recent TCEQ Budget:
In a statement released on March 2, 2021, the Sierra Club voiced its support of the TCEQ budget, particularly the allocation of all revenues to TCEQ for the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP). The statement noted that the Trump Administration had re-validated the 2015 ozone standard, and several Texas cities- Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and El-Paso violate the standard.
Approved Changes to Enforcement of CWA , CAA and other federal laws
The organization noted that one of the primary roles of TCEQ is inspections and enforcement of clean air, clean water, and other federal laws. On this point, it applauded the request to increase salaries in order to attract and retain inspectors and others involved in the permitting and enforcement efforts of TCEQ.
The Sierra Club also made recommendations for changes to several Riders.
Concerning the budget of RRC, the Sierra Club was generally supportive. However, it felt that the Oil and Gas Regulatory Clean-Up Fund was not generating sufficient revenues to keep up with the needs of the organization. Amongst its recommendations to resolve this, the organization suggested raising bonding fees, permit fees and maximum enforcement fines.
The Sierra Club commended Senator Nelson, Senator Kolkhorst, Rep. Cyrier and the voters of Texas in their decision to fully allocate the sporting goods tax to state and local parks. It acknowledged the positive impact of this move on TPWD and the state of Texas for decades to come.
However, it stated that there was still need for improvement. Several state parks and natural areas have been closed to the public for long periods of time, such as the Davis Hill SNA which hasn’t been opened in over 35 years. The organization feels that these areas will not be able to open without sufficient funding and staff to oversea such projects.
Read more here. Sierra Club Comments on TCEQ Budget