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April 24, 1998     (512) 463-0300

NATURAL RESOURCES HOLDS PUBLIC HEARING IN BROWNSVILLE

BROWNSVILLE - The Interim Committee on Natural Resources held a public hearing in Brownsville on Friday, April 24, in the new Science and Engineering Technology building on the University of Texas at Brownsville campus. The committee has been traveling around the state to hear from the public on the implementation of legislation relating to emissions from non-permanent facilities, consolidation of enforcement provisions, and permitting flexibility; granting of general licensing authority to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD); the siting of solid waste facilities; the operation of the SuperFund and voluntary clean-up programs at the Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission (TNRCC), and the implementation of the Federal American Heritage Rivers Initiative. The committee members include Senators J.E. "Buster" Brown (chair) of Lake Jackson, Ken Armbrister of Victoria, Carlos F. Truan of Corpus Christi, Eddie Lucio of Brownsville, and Jeff Wentworth of San Antonio.

The committee began with testimony by Dan Pearson, Executive Director of the TNRCC on the siting of solid waste facilities. Mr. Pearson addressed the TNRCC's consideration of the issue of land use and compatibility in making solid waste permitting decisions. The commission has met in several agency work sessions focused on: how other states address land use compatibility, statutory language relating to counties, ordinance-making authority; and the need for specific criteria and guidance to ensure consistency in permitting decisions. Questions from the committee members focused on the role of local decision makers such as counties or regional counsel of governments in citing decisions that affect the lives and property values of local citizens.

The committee also heard public testimony from a representative of the Citizens Against Landfill Location regarding their concerns about the citing of landfills near a drinking water supply. The committee anticipates further discussion on the issue of landfill citing in their upcoming public hearing in Dallas scheduled for Tuesday, June 16.

Additional public testimony focused on the granting of licensing authority to the TPWD, particularly as it relates to the licensing of the shrimp industry. The TPWD representative briefly answered questions relating to a recent local aquaculture virus event, and the TPWD's authority to regulate viral infestations.

Several members of the community testified in support of including the Rio Grande in the American Heritage Rivers Initiative. The Rio Grande serving as a international border presents a different situation than all other Texas rivers.

The committee stands recessed subject to the call of the chair.

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