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Local organization fights bill silencing TCEQ complaints

You may recall that in February we alerted you about SB 471 by Senator Springer, one of the meanest bills we have ever seen. This bill directs the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to charge a person who files a complaint for the cost of the investigation if, in the same calendar year in which the complaint is filed, the person has filed at least three complaints with TCEQ.

You may recall that in February we alerted you about SB 471 by Senator Springer, one of the meanest bills we have ever seen. This bill directs the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to charge a person who files a complaint for the cost of the investigation if, in the same calendar year in which the complaint is filed, the person has filed at least three complaints with TCEQ.

Persistent citizen complaints often indicate that the problem has not been fixed. For example, for four months, residents of the Grove subdivision at Vintage Oaks, a suburb of New Braunfels, complained to TCEQ about “a horrible sewer, rotten egg, sulfur, and feces smell” emanating from the Vintage Oaks wastewater treatment. According to one resident, the smell “permeates our homes, sinks, stove, air vents, shower drains, and toilets. It is so bad that you can smell it off Interstate 46.” GEAA’s research shows intermittent complaints about foul odors coming from this plant had been registered since 2019 to 2023. Many of these folks filed more than three complaints each year.

From information found in the TCEQ Central Registry, we deduce that the cause of repeated complaints is often be due to the fact that the problems occasioning complaints have not been addressed and, in certain cases, have not yet even been investigated prior to TCEQ closing the complaint file. To assess fees based upon the status of TCEQ’s complaint file, rather than the actual resolution of the source of repeated complaints, seems arbitrary and, frankly, a cruel practice to be foisted upon the citizens of Texas.

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