HBA-AMW H.B. 44 77(R) BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 44 By: McClendon Environmental Regulation 3/15/2001 Introduced BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE Municipal solid waste facilities are often concentrated in certain geographical areas, placing a disproportionately high amount of the adverse health and environmental effects from those facilities on residents in the surrounding communities. The cumulative effect of various pollutants from many facilities may cause an area to become saturated if steps are not taken to help mitigate the pollution. Under current law, Texas's strategic solid waste plan does not expressly address the effects that the multiple siting of solid waste facilities may have on surrounding communities. House Bill 44 requires the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission's strategic solid waste plan to consider the effect of multiple sources of pollution, ensure adequate solid waste management capacity, minimize the adverse effects of solid waste facilities, and refrain from locating solid waste facilities disproportionately in low income or minority areas. 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 6 (Section 361.070, Health and Safety Code) and SECTION 7 (Section 5.127, Water Code) of this bill. ANALYSIS House Bill 44 amends the Health and Safety Code and the Water Code to prescribe and amend policies related to the siting of solid waste facilities. The bill amends the Health and Safety Code to modify the state's solid waste disposal policy to ensure that new solid waste facilities are not located disproportionately in low-income, minority, or other communities and that the adverse effects of solid waste facilities on the communities in which they are located are minimized, while ensuring that the state has adequate solid waste management capacity. The bill requires that the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission's (TNRCC) strategic state solid waste plan (plan) include provisions to ensure that new solid waste facilities are not located disproportionately in low-income, minority, or other communities, and to require the consideration of the effect the presence of multiple sources of pollution and other nuisances may have on the community surrounding a solid waste facility. The bill requires TNRCC's plan to assess historical trends regarding the siting of solid waste facilities in low-income, minority, and other communities. The bill requires TNRCC to submit a report biennially to the governor and members of the legislature evaluating the implementation of the state's policy of ensuring that new solid waste facilities are not located disproportionately in low-income, minority, or other communities, and the adverse effects of solid waste facilities on the communities in which they are located are minimized. The bill also adds environmental justice activities to the list of activities that the office of pollution prevention directs and coordinates for TNRCC. H.B. 44 requires an applicant for a new solid waste facility that accepts municipal solid wastes to hold a public meeting in the county in which the proposed facility is to be located within 45 days of filing the application. The bill requires the meeting to include a discussion of the compatibility of the proposed facility with relevant state or regional solid waste management plans, other sites considered for the proposed facility and the process for selecting the site identified in the application, and the effects the facility may have on local residents, places of worship, schools, day-care centers, or surface water bodies used to supply public drinking water. The bill also requires the meeting to address potential benefits to the local community of constructing the proposed facility. The bill sets forth requirements for the applicant to publish notice of the public meeting at least once each week during the three weeks preceding the meeting, requires the applicant to pay the cost of the notice, and gives TNRCC the authority to establish by rule a procedure for payment of the costs. The bill requires the applicant to mail to TNRCC a report of the proceedings of the meeting postmarked no later than 30 days after the date the meeting concludes. H.B. 44 also amends the Water Code to authorize an affected party to offer, and require TNRCC to consider, in an administrative proceeding involving the siting, expansion, or operation of a solid waste facility in the local area in which other facilities are located evidence relating to the cumulative risks involved. Evidence relating to cumulative risks includes the effect of releases, emissions, or discharges from the facility and from other facilities in the area, the potential for exposure to a particular substance by means of multiple pathways, and the combined level of noise, odor, and other impacts from the facility and other facilities in the area. The bill requires TNRCC to develop and implement policies to protect the public from cumulative risks, particularly in low-income or minority communities and communities in which permitted facilities are concentrated. The bill also requires TNRCC to give priority to monitoring and enforcement in areas in which permitted facilities are concentrated and requires TNRCC to adopt rules as necessary to accomplish these purposes. EFFECTIVE DATE September 1, 2001.