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Rep.Zwiener, Erin

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Rep. Zwiener Lays Out Common-Sense Bill on TCEQ Penalties  print page

by: Rep. Zwiener, Erin
05/06/2019

Austin, TX — State Representative Erin Zwiener (Driftwood) laid out House Bill 3035 last week in front of the House Environmental Regulation Committee to protect clean air and clean water. The common-sense bill would make certain that penalties imposed by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality are at least equal to the value of economic benefit gained by the alleged violator.

“We all know that fines exist to discourage bad behavior,” said Rep. Zwiener. “But if the consequence for ignoring the law is less than the financial gain, why would you stop? We need to ensure that businesses whose violations harm Texans are penalized at least the amount of any economic benefit from the harm done. We need a regulatory structure that encourages proactive compliance instead of rewarding strategic negligence.”

In an analysis of more than 9,000 enforcement actions over the past five years, KXAN found more than half of all businesses targeted by the TCEQ have received a discount of at least 20 percent on their fines, and in some cases, an even higher discount, suggesting a widespread problem. In her bill layout, Rep. Zwiener referenced an incident of a low fine levied against Intercontinental Terminals Company, where a devastating fire occurred this year in Deer Park.

“TCEQ’s job is to protect our air and water quality,” said Rep. Zwiener. “Appropriate penalties for endangering our environment are essential to protecting Texas from industrial disasters.”

Contact: Graham Senor

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