Naked City

A waste of legislation

Naked City
Photo By Jana Birchum

At a demonstration held on the steps of the Governor's Mansion Monday, the Texas Campaign for the Environment joined local community groups in denouncing Gov. Perry's decision to sign HB 1609. Originally written to deal with small West Texas landfills, the measure was amended in the last days of the regular session to eliminate statewide, mandatory public meetings for hazardous waste sites, landfills, sludge dumps, and other trash facilities. The TCEQ, which requested the amendment, says the changes will save resources since 30% of the meetings are not attended by citizens. Critics, however, worry that HB 1609's only criteria for holding meetings – the discretion of the TCEQ director or the request of a state legislator – are too vague, and are demanding that TCEQ quantify specific standards. "The public meetings are the most important forum where Texans can ask questions about proposed landfills and hazardous waste facilities and speak about their concerns – whether it's drinking water, wells on their property, or the amount and kind of waste that may be coming into their community," said Trek English of the NorthEast Action Group, which is fighting two landfills in its area.

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