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A citizen's right to challenge a permit granted to a polluter could be severely limited by a bill approved by the Senate Natural Resources Committee.
Senators voted Tuesday and now the bill will go to the full Senate for consideration. The proposed law by Republican Sen. Troy Fraser would limit what is called the contested case hearing process.
Under current law, a citizen can challenge a permit the state grants to landfills, hazardous waste facilities and power plants. Residents have used the process to insist on tougher pollution standards in their communities.
Fraser's bill would drastically change the hearing process to limit the evidence allowed and eliminate live testimony and questioning. Supporters say it will help businesses hampered by environmental claims, while opponents say it will hurt local residents.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
"The deck is already stacked against residents when a powerful polluter applies for a permit to discharge chemicals in to our air, water and land. The contested case hearing process has played a critical role in giving residents the ability to ask the polluters tough questions and make them take steps to mitigate health and environmental threats." Environment Texas Director Luke Metzger on Senate Bill 957, which would severely restrict contested cases.