HBA-JLV H.B. 2997 77(R) BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 2997 By: Callegari Environmental Regulation 3/18/2001 Introduced BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE Texas has not developed a comprehensive program for the use of environmental management systems (system) that assist regulated businesses in reaching, maintaining, and even exceeding compliance with environmental regulations. Many would like to implement these systems to improve compliance of environmental regulations and reduce pollution. The Sunset Advisory Commission has recommended that the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC) encourage regulated entities to develop these systems as a measure of their commitment to compliance with environmental regulations and to natural resource conservation. House Bill 2997 requires TNRCC to adopt a comprehensive program that provides certain incentives to encourage the use of environmental management systems by regulated entities. RULEMAKING AUTHORITY It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that rulemaking authority is expressly delegated to the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission in SECTION 1 (Section 5.127, Water Code) and SECTION 8 of this bill. ANALYSIS House Bill 2997 amends the Water Code to require the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC) by rule to adopt a comprehensive program that provides incentives to encourage the use of environmental management systems (system) by regulated entities, state agencies, local governments, and other entities. The bill provides that the incentives may include: _on-site technical assistance; _accelerated access to information about programs; _inclusion of information regarding an entity's use of an environmental management system in the entity's compliance history and compliance summaries; _consideration of the entity's implementation of an environmental management system in scheduling and conducting compliance inspections; and _expedited processing of permit renewal, modification, or amendment. The bill requires TNRCC to integrate the use of systems into its programs, establish a mechanism to allow for public participation, develop model systems for small businesses and local governments, and establish environmental performance indicators to measure the program's performance (Sec. 5.127). The bill sets forth provisions regarding a public hearing on an application for the renewal, modification, or amendment of any permit issued by TNRCC in which the executive director of TNRCC finds that the applicant has implemented a system for the facility for which the permit removal, modification, or amendment is sought, and has no outstanding significant and unresolved violations related to that facility (Sec. 5.557). The bill requires TNRCC, in considering evidence of an applicant's compliance history, to consider information regarding the applicant's implementation of a system at the facility for which the permit, permit amendment, or permit renewal is sought (Sec. 26.0281). The bill requires the TNRCC to adopt rules regarding the comprehensive program not later than December 1, 2001 (SECTION 8). EFFECTIVE DATE September 1, 2001.