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Texas: Do Not Silence Environmental Complaints!

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Sponsor: The Rainforest Site

Citizen complaints are crucial in holding polluters accountable, and investigations resulting from these complaints are more likely to find violations. Tell Texas to listen to its citizens!


Texans are concerned about the state's environmental issues, including water scarcity1, air pollution2, and climate change3. These concerns are shared by ordinary Texans, not just environmental activists and policymakers. Texans need government and environmental oversight that is accessible to all.

The oil and gas industry is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in Texas4. Its operations have been linked to air pollution and water contamination, causing health problems for Texans, including respiratory issues, cancer, and birth defects5. Additionally, droughts and water scarcity are expected to worsen due to climate change and increased demand.

A proposed bill in Texas, Senate Bill 471, could fine residents for making multiple environmental complaints that don't lead to enforcement action6.

If the bill passes, it could lead to missed violations due to slow responses to complaints. TCEQ can take weeks or months to resolve investigations, and by the time the agency sends an investigator, the problem may have disappeared or changed7.

Under the proposed law, residents could face a fine it they file more than three complaints to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) within a calendar year8. Indeed, responding to citizen complaints is a crucial part of TCEQ's job. Citizen complaints are essential in holding polluters accountable, and investigations resulting from citizen complaints are more likely to find violations9.

Like all Americans, Texans should have the right to call for stronger environmental regulations and oversight to address environmental concerns. They should have the right to urge their elected government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, protect water resources, and promote renewable energy. Considering recent legislative efforts to shield the oil and gas community from climate initiatives, the Texas government is more closely aligned with the oil and gas industry, which could make it difficult to implement meaningful change10.

The proposed bill is an intimidation tactic that will discourage people from reporting environmental problems across the state. Citizen complaints are essential to holding polluters accountable, and Texans need to have access to environmental oversight. Sign the petition to stop Texas from silencing environmental concerns!

More on this issue:

  1. Texas Living Waters Project (20 April 2022), "Texas Needs Your Help Shaping Its Water Future."
  2. Ryan Wood, ABC News (11 November 2021), "How much greenhouse gas does Texas add to the atmosphere? And where is it coming from?"
  3. María Méndez AND Erin Douglas, The Texas Tribune (18 May 2022), "Seven ways climate change is already hitting Texans."
  4. United States Environmental Protection Agency (13 April 2023), "Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions."
  5. James A. Martinez, American Lung Association (20 April 2021), "New Report: Texas Air Still Failing."
  6. Sen. Drew Springer, Texas Legislature (13 March 2023), "SB 471."
  7. Alex Chamberlain, Era Environmental Management Solutions (13 November 2019), "EHS Compliance in Texas: Preparing for a TCEQ Investigation."
  8. Alejandra Martinez, Texas Tribune, and Martha Pskowski, Inside Climate News (17 April 2023), "Senator’s Bill Would Fine Texans for Multiple Environmental Complaints That Don’t Lead to Enforcement."
  9. Alejandra Martinez, The Texas Tribune (17 April 2023), "Senator’s bill would fine Texans for multiple environmental complaints that don’t lead to enforcement."
  10. Erin Douglas, The Texas Tribune (4 May 2021), "Texas Legislature advances bills to shield oil and gas from climate initiatives."
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The Petition:

To the Governor, House of Representatives, and State Senate of Texas,

We, the undersigned, urge you to dismiss Senate Bill 471, introduced by Republican Sen. Drew Springer of Muenster, which would impose fines on Texans for filing more than three complaints to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) within a calendar year, regardless of whether or not enforcement action is taken.

This proposed bill is a clear violation of Texans' right to report environmental violations and hold polluters accountable. It discourages residents from reporting pollution and could lead to missed violations due to slow responses to complaints. Citizen complaints are essential in protecting the environment and public health, as investigations resulting from these complaints are more likely to find violations.

Texans have the right to a safe and healthy environment, and it is the responsibility of the government to ensure that right. The proposed bill would undermine the government's responsibility to protect the environment and public health. It would also make it more difficult for Texans to hold polluters accountable, which is crucial in a state heavily reliant on the oil and gas industry.

We urge you to dismiss Senate Bill 471 and instead focus on strengthening environmental regulations and oversight in Texas. Texans deserve a government that is accessible and responsive to their concerns about the environment. Let us work together to build a better, safer, and healthier future for all Texans.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,

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Signatures: