Republican Sen. Drew Springer proposes tougher bill measures that could protect the environment. Senate Bill 471 suggests that Texas residents who file three or more complaints to environmental regulators, the amount of which will be decided by TCEQ, their complaints don’t result in enforcement actions but will face fines, The Texas Tribune reported.
Senate Bill 471
Senate Bill 471 doesn’t specify the cost of fines but it states that it would be less than or equal to the amount of the complaints investigation. Republican Sen. Drew Springer said that the bill will target abusive complaints. However, as early as now, the proposed bill has received criticism. Critics argue that it will discourage Texans to report any environmental problems and it would also discourage low-income communities, which are more likely to face health and environmental impacts, especially from industrial pollution.
Mary Evans, economist, and professor at the University of Texas found that investigations stemming from citizen complaints were two to four times more likely to find violations than merely investigations not instigated by complaints. Critics of the bill said that responding to citizens’ environmental issues and concerns is part of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and complaints must be investigated and find solutions.
The Bill Intimidates Residents, Critics Says
Critics added that the bill is seen as a tactic to intimidate people from filing complaints, and people are more likely to think twice before filing an investigation. If the environmental problem persists, Texans are justified in filing multiple complaints, and if pollution is affecting someone’s life, then they would complain every single day.
Overall, while Senate Bill 471 proposed tougher measures to protect the environment, critics are saddened that it would discourage people from reporting environmental issues and concerns. Citizens’ complaints must be taken seriously and rapid actions must be taken so that citizens will be encouraged to report. It is important to remember that protecting the environment is essential for everyone and everyone should be encouraged to report environmental problems.