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Senate Interim Committee on Natural Resources

TEXAS AQUACULTURE INDUSTRY
Charge

Study the Texas aquaculture industry and its effects on state bays and estuaries.
Recommendations

  • The regulatory authority of the Texas Department of Agriculture over the industry should be abolished. Responsibility for monitoring and preventing the occurrence of disease should be given to the Texas Animal Health Commission. In the event of an outbreak of disease at a facility, the Texas Animal Health Commission should be required to notify both the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC). That facility would then be ordered to halt wastewater discharges.

  • The Texas Animal Health Commission and the Texas Department of Health should conduct a joint study of waste disposal practices at seafood processing plants. The study should focus on the occurence and possible transport of disease and ways to safely dispose of this waste.

  • The Aquaculture Executive Committee should be abolished and replaced with a Memorandum of Agreement between TNRCC, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Animal Health Commission.

  • Establish a committee composed of a representative from TNRCC, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Animal Health Commission. The committee would review applications for permits to discharge wastewater to ensure state bays and estuaries would not be adversely impacted.

  • Coordinate among state regulatory agencies to ensure quick action on unauthorized discharges or discharges from a contaminated site.

  • A commission should be established to conduct an exhaustive study of wastewater discharge from mariculture facilities.

    COST BENEFIT ANALYSIS AND RISK ASSESSMENT
    Charge

    Study the use of cost benefit analysis and risk assesment in environmental regulation.
    Recommendations

  • Any affected rule that is adopted by a state agency should use the "heightened scrutiny" approach.

  • The use of the heightened scrutiny approach in environmental permitting would apply to any regulations that exceed a federal standard, express requirement of state law, or a delegation agreement or contract. It would also apply to regulations adopted solely under the general powers of the agency.

  • When adopting an affected rule, an agency should identify the problem to be addressed; determine whether a new regulation is necessary to address the problem; and consider benefits and costs of the proposed regulation to state agencies, local governments, the general public, the regulated community, and the environment.

  • When adopting rules an agency should provide the maximum flexibility to the regulated community in methods of complying with the rule.

  • The draft impact statement should identify when a specific command and control requirement is the only regulatory option and explain why that method is preferable.

  • A rule should be adopted only after the agency makes a finding that the rule is both effective and economic costs are not substantially greater than alternative regulatory methods.

    INTERSTATE OZONE TRANSPORT AGREEMENT
    Charge

    Monitor the Environmental Protection Agency interstate ozone transport agreement and the agreement's impact on Texas.
    Findings

  • The Ozone Transport Assessment Group project may have serious implications for the manner in which air quality is protected in Texas, and may, as it currently is being developed, contain material scientific flaws as well as substantial inequities in the treatment of regions and sources.

  • TNRCC should participate in the Ozone Transport Assessment Group project to the extent possible, with the aim of preventing areas classified as Prevention of Significant Deterioration from being subjected to non-attainment provisions.

  • TNRCC should report to the Senate Natural Resources Committee on the status of and any legislation required to implement the Ozone Transport Assessment Group proposals prior to the start of the 75th Legislature.

    PETROLEUM STORAGE TANKS
    Charge

    Monitor the implementation of the Petroleum Storage Tank Bill, H.B. 2587, 74th Legislature.

    PETROLEUM STORAGE TANK PROGRAM
    Background

    Although the 74th Legislature significantly amended the Petroleum Storage Tank (PST) program at TNRCC, the PST program's principal mission has not repaired or removed leaking underground storage tanks, remediated contaminated sites surrounding those tanks or safeguarded the environment.
    Recommendations

    Several recommendations were made to help decrease the level of environmental contamination.

  • Conduct a Site Assessment.

  • A thorough risk-based site assessment involves a preliminary investigation, site investigation, and a report of all findings. Assessing the risk potential of a site involves identifying the hydrocarbon plumes, their rate of movement, and what their potential impact is.

  • Determine a Target Cleanup Level.

  • Plan A- Plan A is a generalized cleanup level based upon specified methods. It uses conservative assumptions regarding potential human exposure. Regulatory review is lessened in exchange for a more prescriptive cleanup level.

  • Plan B- Plan B allows flexibility in selecting an approach to site cleanup. Plan B requires that a limited risk assessment be completed and involve a more rigorous assessment than Plan A.

  • Propose and Implement a Corrective Action Plan.

  • Identify the most cost-effective plan for achieving cleanup goals.

  • Conduct pilot testing or other design criteria, if not previously performed.

  • Prepare a work plan cost proposal for optimal corrective action and submit for TNRCC review.

  • Implement the work plan after it is approved by TNRCC.

  • Monitor the results of the Corrective Action Plan and seek final TNRCC approval.

  • A Quarterly Monitoring Program should be established to ensure the completion of the Corrective Action Plan after the work plan has been completed and the target cleanup goals have been achieved.

  • If the concentration levels of targeted pollutants remain at or below the original target cleanup goals for one year, the responsible party may apply to TNRCC for a Site Closure Letter which will certify that the site has been remediated to commission standards.

    EFFECTIVENESS OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL AUDIT LEGISLATION
    Charge

    Monitor the effectiveness of H.B. 2473, 74th Legislature in increasing voluntary reporting of environmental violations.
    Recommendations

  • Direct TNRCC to continue to work with the EPA to fully explain the Texas law and show the EPA why its concerns are unfounded. Encourage the EPA to allow the Texas law to work by ceasing to make negative comments about the law.

  • Direct the Senate Natural Resource Committee to continue monitoring the implementation and effectiveness of the audit law because there is no sufficient indication that the law is or is not working, although initial results are positive.

  • Encourage TNRCC and other agencies to continue their efforts to implement the law. Encourage companies to seek out possible noncompliance and bring any discovered violations into compliance.

    COLUMBIA BOTTOMLANDS PROTECTION PLAN
    Charge

    Examine the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's decision to enact the Columbia Bottomlands Protection Plan in Brazoria, Matagorda, Fort Bend and Wharton counties, and determine the effects of the plan on the region.
    Recommendations

  • The Four County Task Force Co-Chairmen agree that the preservation and protection of these coastal woodlands can best be achieved through conservation easements, wildlife management cooperatives, or technical assistance for habitat management.

  • The co-chairmen feel that before any future efforts are taken on behalf of the "bottomland hardwoods" habitat, a definition should be agreed upon between the private and public sectors.

  • The co-chairmen believe urban development should be used as a tool by local planners to promote habitat preservation and appreciation of the area's natural resources.

  • To accomplish these tasks, the co-chairmen would like to adopt the findings of the Four County Task Force's Subcommittees on Habitat Management and Natural Resources to monitor the status of the forest habitat within Brazoria, Fort Bend, Matagorda, and Wharton counties. In addition, the co-chairmen recommended that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department be designated the primary steward of public lands within the State of Texas.

    IMPLEMENTATIONS OF THE PROPERTY RIGHTS LEGISLATION
    Charges

    Monitor the implementation of the property rights legislation (S.B. 14, 74th Legislature).
    Background

    This legislation was written in order to correct the Texas Constitution's Article 1, Section 17, which covers private property rights. Article 1, Section 17, ensures that private property owners are fairly compensated when their property is taken for public use. However, previous to S.B. 14 there was no statute which addressed the concerns of private property owners who believe governmental actions had resulted in reduced market value of their property, thus causing the property to be susceptible to a taking without proper recourse.
    Agency Recommendation

  • All named agencies should make final determinations to ensure that their rules are not affected by S.B. 14. These agencies will also create and comply with a specific Takings Impact Assessment (TIA) document. Also, when more than one agency is involved in creating a TIA, a lead agency should be named to coordinate such activity.
    Statutory Recommendation

  • All counties should adhere to S.B. 14 as of September 1, 1997. No exemptions will be granted on behalf of the county after this date. Agencies may approach the committee and seek correction if a function of that agency is affected by S.B. 14 but was not intended by the legislature to be affected. Also, modifications for active litigation may become necessary, dependent on outcome.

    WASTE TIRE RECYCLING LEGISLATION
    Charge

    Monitor the implementation of the 74th Legislature's S.B. 776, waste tire recycling bill.
    Background

    Some 55,000 tires are discarded every day in Texas. Until 1989 most tires were disposed of in landfills, thereby posing significant hazards to the health, safety, and welfare of citizens and the environment. That year the 71st Legislature adopted the Waste Tire Recycling Program, which banned the disposal of whole tires in landfills and sought to eliminate existing tire landfills. Subsequent legislatures have significantly expanded upon the original recycling bill. Current law bans all forms of tires in landfills (including shredded tires), promotes the use of products made from recycled tires, provides financial incentives to encourage the use of waste tires as fuel, and requires consumers to pay a small fee to cover tire recycling expenses.
    Administrative Recommendations

  • The program, while continuing to ensure that tires are collected, should not interfere with free trade, flow control or private enterprise of tire recycling activities.

  • TNRCC should implement an easily accessible database of all program participants.

  • TNRCC should take an active role in the public education of end-use practices.

  • TNRCC should continue to hold Scrap Tire Market Development Conferences as needed.

  • Audit and enforcement activities should be strengthened as necessary to ensure that no illegal dumps are created.
    Regulatory Recommendation

  • TNRCC should adopt the use of Scrap Tire and Rubber Recycling Terminology, as defined by the ARA Tire and Rubber Recycling Advisory Council.
    Statutory Recommendations

  • Change the name of the program from "Waste Tire Recycling Fund Program" to "Scrap Tire Recycling Fund Program." Use the phrase "scrap tires" instead of "waste tires." Currently these phrases are used interchangeably.

  • Change the current program sunset date from December 31, 1997 to December 31, 2001.

  • Effective January 1, 1998, reduce the current collection fee on passenger tires from $2.00 per tire to $1.50 per tire. The $3.50 agriculture tire fee should remain the same. From January 1, 2000 until December 31, 2001, reduce the collection fee on passenger tires to $1.00 per tire. Reduce the agriculture tire fee to $2.00 per tire for this time period.

  • Discontinue collection of the fee on "good used tires." The tracking of the collection of this fee has proved arduous at best. In addition, the selling of these tires is recycling in its truest form.

  • Access the tire fee at the wholesale level rather than the retail level. All new tires will still be covered but the collection and administration responsibilities will be reduced significantly.

  • Reduce fee paid to comptroller from 2 percent to 1 percent of fees received through the program. The comptroller's responsibility will be significantly reduced with changing the fee collection from retailers to wholesalers.

  • The total amount of funds collected from fees on new tires should be appropriated for use in the program. Any current balance of unappropriated funds should be appropriated for use in the program.

  • Change the scrap tire equivalent from 18.7 pounds to 20 pounds.

  • Allow transporters the ability to charge the generator for the collection of scrap tires.

  • Change the focus of the program from the middleman to the end-user by eliminating the reimbursement being paid to processors for shredding.

  • Define "end-use" to include: civil engineering practices; user of scrap tire material for energy recovery purposes; pyrolysis; products made from scrap tires; and any other process or product that the TNRCC determines meet the objectives of the program.

  • The making of crumb rubber or the baling of tires is not determined to be an end-use. In order for these processes to be considered for end-use benefits, a verifiable contract must be presented for the actual end-use of these processes (i.e., a contract for use of X pounds of crumb rubber in a product, or the use of baled tires in an end-use application).

  • Give incentives for end-use, whether through grants or end-user reimbursements. Grants would only be available for recycling facilities or processes located in Texas.

  • Implement regional/national recycling markets by reimbursing end users who remove tires from the waste stream of Texas. Out-of-state regional recyclers must demonstrate scrap tires collection in Texas; transportation of state tires out-of-state; delivery of Texas generated tires to an out-of-state processor who sorts, grades, and recycles the tire derived material in accordance with the end user of scrap tires material; and demonstrate active end user contracts for tire derived material.

  • As a last resort (as determined by TNRCC), allow disposal of scrap tires in a monofill until such time as TNRCC determines that there is sufficient end-use for all current generation tires in the state.

  • Give TNRCC discretion in using financial assurance funds for any abandoned processor site (i.e., request for bids utilizing stored tire chips at a processor's facility up to the total amount of financial assurance).

  • Give TNRCC more flexibility to enable the agency to amend the program specifics in emergency situations.