January 29, 2019
Representative Kyle Biedermann met with TCEQ Executive Director Toby Baker. Please read Rep. Biedermann’s full statement below:
“This past week in my pursuit for finding out what the TCEQ can do for District 73, I and members of my staff met with the TCEQ Executive Director, Toby Baker, and senior members of his staff. We spent time explaining the land development issues in District 73 and how many of the developers appeared to be environmental stewards and others were not. Some developers were serious about protecting larger areas of the Hill Country while some appeared to be more interested in making money and moving on to other projects. I explained my proposed bill on Municipal Utility Districts (MUD) and the need to have more local members as MUD board members, the need to change the eminent domain restrictions to include wastewater discharge locations, and the need to ensure that the people living in the MUD were more promptly and adequately informed of any legal actions pending against the MUD.
We thoroughly discussed the current situation and growth potential for aggregate production operations. I have proposed one bill to strengthen and enhance the existing TCEQ air permitting program. My bill outlines a two-prong approach where the TCEQ and the aggregate industry should jointly conduct an air baseline study of the entire quarry area. The end result would be an environmental assessment including a health assessment on what the air data shows for APO’s in Texas. The information would either validate the current data that is being used in the state’s air models or cause the TCEQ to require the APO’s to provide periodic air sampling in accordance with their newly developed air permit requirements. In conjunction with air, I emphasized the need for the TCEQ to work closely with groundwater conservation districts (GWCD) before an APO permit issued. Presently, APO permits are being issued in District 73 with some level of regulatory review of the APO’s proposed use of groundwater. However, the GWCD must be able to perform an in-depth review before the TCEQ issues their permit. In addition, I also support the Texas Railroad Commission (TRRC) being assigned a new role involving their review of newly established requirements for reclaiming all APO land. In essence, I recommended that the TCEQ would maintain it’s senior regulatory role but GWCD’s and the TRRC would also have regulatory roles.
We finally discussed the need for a different level of public involvement. I stressed that serious discussions need to occur within the state legislature and existing statues need to be revised. This is needed to ensure the public is better informed and the public have ample opportunities to provide their thoughts and recommendations on an issue.
All of the topics I raised with Mr. Baker will involve some level of statutory changes in existing laws regarding the TCEQ to make them stronger and more protective of the Hill Country and the state of Texas. I will continue to work hard to develop coalitions with my fellow legislatures to ensure these bills are timely placed in their correct committees and then seriously evaluated. As equally important, I will work closely with with my Hill Country colleagues and other legislatures to have these bills become law.
I have created subject matter working groups, and I encourage all interested persons living in District 73 to sign up to the groups you are most interested in. I will be intently looking to your observations and insights regarding each of these important topics and periodically contacting various members in each working group. I am looking forward to hearing from you and diligently working to provide a high quality of life in Comal, Kendall, and Gillespie Counties.”