FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 01/17/2019
Huberty Files Sand Mining Regulation Legislation to Prevent Future Flooding
Austin, TX - State Representative Dan Huberty today filed several bills aimed at mitigating future flooding along river ways and lakes in Texas by strengthening regulations on aggregate production operations (APOs), more commonly known as sand mines, in order to decrease the amount of sedimentation and siltation released into the water.
"In 2011, I passed a bill requiring sand mining operators to register with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) in an attempt to curb the amount of illegal mining along waterways. This was a great first step and has allowed TCEQ to focus on penalizing the bad operators. But recent events, like the flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey, have shown that there is still more to be done. These bills will give TCEQ more ability to enforce the regulations and provide much-needed resources for investigations," Huberty said.
The first piece of legislation, House Bill (HB) 907, simply revisits the existing APO statute and doubles the current registration violation penalties.
Huberty's second item, HB 908, increases administrative penalties for APO violations and makes site inspections more frequent. Any funds collected from these higher penalty amounts would be directed to a water resources management account under TCEQ, to cover the increased oversight responsibilities of the agency.
The third item, HB 909, would require TCEQ to adopt and publish "best management practices" for APOs to model. Through the public comment process, the agency would create a system of structural, operational or vegetative practices to prevent or reduce water pollution wherever APO sites are located. "Asking all Texans from subject-matter experts to industry members and everyday residents to be involved in this process will ensure that TCEQ crafts appropriate and relevant practices," said Huberty.
Huberty added, "combined, these three simple changes will update the APO rules allowing for the good actors to continue operating without issue and provide TCEQ the ability to focus on stopping the bad ones."
Additionally, Huberty filed HB 911, relating to the creation and functions of the Lake Houston Area Watershed Commission. HB 911 would form a board to streamline public communication and oversee flood control plans and projects in the entire Lake Houston area. The Commissioners would be appointed members, representing Harris, Montgomery and Liberty County Commissioner's Courts; the Cities of Houston and Humble; the boards of directors of any municipal utility districts around the Lake and two non-voting positions for a member of the San Jacinto River Authority and the Coastal Water Authority.
"Hurricane Harvey did much to highlight the multi-jurisdictional issues that Texas counties, cities and communities have faced for years. Specific to our region, the storm emphasized the lack of authority for agencies to act when it comes to Lake Houston. To clarify the roles and responsibilities of all parties when it comes to this resource, the area needs a single entity that can serve as an advocate. HB 911 will do just that," Huberty stated.
State Representative Dan Huberty has represented House District 127 since 2011. During the 85th Legislature, he was named Chairman of the House Committee on Public Education. Huberty has served on the State Affairs, Calendars, Pensions, Redistricting and Transportation Funding Committees.
Contact: Casey Christman