Bill to make polluters pay advances in Texas House

On Friday, Apr. 23, House Bill 1820, which would help push corporations to do more to prevent all too frequent industrial fires and chemical releases, was passed out of the House Environmental Regulation Committee and is now one step closer to full House vote. 

If signed into a law, this bill could strengthen the enforcement of environmental regulations in our state by allowing the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to issue stronger fines for illegal and injurious releases of air pollution.

Together with partners, AAH has been advocating for tougher penalties for years. State Rep. Erin Zwiener, a Hays County Democrat, authored the bill in response to the rash of petrochemical fires and explosions in the Houston, Beaumont-Port Arthur and Corpus Christi areas in 2019 and 2020.

Earlier this month, on Apr. 12, our Community Air Monitoring Program Manager and lifelong Galena Park resident, Juan Flores testified on HB 1820 at the House hearing for the bill. He reminded the committee about the frequent chemical fires, pollution and smells that communities like his are experiencing, highlighting the urgent need for more enforcement of environmental laws. 

We want to thank Rep. Zwiener and all the committee members who voted ‘aye’ on moving this bill forward – Rep. Alex Dominguez, Rep. Geanie Morrison, Rep. Penny Morales Shaw, Rep. Ron Reynolds & Rep. Vikki Goodwin. 

“We are exposed almost daily to harmful chemicals from nearby chemical plants and refineries. My son tells me that he can smell them during tennis practice after school. It’s not right that our health is put at risk. I’m very hopeful that this bill will become law and force companies to be better neighbors,” Juan commented on the announcement that the bill is advancing in the House. “My Galena Park neighbors and I want clean air every day.”  

The bill will move next to the House Calendars Committee, who may place it on the calendar for debate before the full House. It will then need to be voted on favorably by the full House, and finally pass the Texas Senate before it can become a law. 

Please tell your elected officials that we’ve been through enough pollution and deserve a healthier, safer Texas. HB 1820 would help us get there.

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