Proposed Senate Bill Aims to Help Neighborhoods Affected by Environmental Quality Issues

Texas State Senator Borris Miles of Houston recently filed a bill for the upcoming legislative session aimed at protecting neighborhoods disproportionately affected by environmental quality issues. Senate Bill 180, filed earlier this month, would create a new chapter in Texas’ Health and Safety code that legally defines “environmental justice community” as a community in which either 30 percent of the population live below the federal poverty line or over 50 percent of the population are racial or ethnic minorities. In addition, the bill would create a more thorough permitting process for companies seeking to build emissions-producing facilities – such as concrete batch plants or waste management sites – in these environmental justice communities.

This piece of legislation has the potential to benefit neighborhoods across Houston and the state that have historically been inordinately affected by air quality issues. The requirements outlined in Senator Miles’ bill would not only ensure that permit applicants take every possible step to minimize the environmental impact on residents in order to secure a permit, but will actively encourage community participation in the permitting process. Creating more stringent hearing notice requirements will allow every affected resident the opportunity to make their voice heard.

SB 180 will have a tough, uphill battle in the coming legislative session, which begins in January 2019. We encourage everyone to spread the word about the importance of this bill and to engage your communities to activate support. Please contact your State Representative and State Senator to express your support for this piece of legislation.

You can read the entire SB 180 here.