HBA-JLV S.C.R. 23 77(R) BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisS.C.R. 23 By: Brown, J. E. "Buster" Environmental Regulation 5/10/2001 Engrossed BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE The reduction of pollution and the protection of the environment are matters of state and national concern, and both the state and the federal governments bear responsibility for actions in this regard. Ideally, this mutual concern and shared responsibility should manifest itself in a collaborative partnership to reduce pollution and protect natural resources. While both state and federal governments share these goals, differences have arisen regarding the most effective approach to environmental problems and specific pollution reductions and environmental protection efforts. These differences reflect a state-federal relationship that relies less on mutual development of policy and coordination of agency efforts and more on a command-and-control approach that focuses exclusively on state implementation of federal regulations, thus denying Texas the flexibility it needs to protect its natural resources and environment as effectively as possible. The current approach instituted by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to limit pollution at the state level through the use of a federally mandated permitting process has proven to be moderately successful at reducing pollution, but it is also burdensome and costly to both the states and the regulated facilities. In Texas, the burden of enforcing federal regulating and monitoring compliance with required permits falls primarily on the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC). However, the overly prescriptive approach that the federal government has taken gives TNRCC no input in the development of these regulations and little flexibility, either in interpreting regulations or in the way TNRCC is required to enforce them. Alternative approaches are available, including outcome-based assessment methods that allow the state to measure the actual reduction of pollution and identify and target offending facilities rather than expend limited agency resources to monitor each facility's compliance. States should be given greater latitude to implement innovative regulatory programs and other pollution reduction methods that vary from the current top-down model that requires states to adhere strictly to the federally mandated permitting process. TNRCC should take a leadership role in these efforts and work as closely as possible with the EPA and other national environmental associations to establish a working relationship that would give states a greater voice in the decision-making process and allow them greater flexibility in the implementation of federal environmental programs. Senate Concurrent Resolution 23 provides that the 77th Legislature of the State of Texas urges TNRCC to expand its coordination efforts with the EPA, the Environmental Council of the States, and other national associations. RULEMAKING AUTHORITY It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that this resolution does not expressly delegate any additional rulemaking authority to a state officer, department, agency, or institution. ANALYSIS Senate Concurrent Resolution 23 provides that the 77th Legislature of the State of Texas urges the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission to expand its coordination efforts with the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the Environmental Council of the States, and other national associations to increase flexibility for the state in the implementation of federal environmental regulations.