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Bill Detail: HB20-1143

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Title Environmental Justice And Projects Increase Environmental Fines
Status Governor Signed (07/02/2020)
Bill Subjects
  • Natural Resources & Environment
House Sponsors D. Jackson (D)
S. Gonzales-Gutierrez (D)
Senate Sponsors F. Winter (D)
House Committee Energy and Environment
Senate Committee Finance
Date Introduced 01/17/2020
Description

Current state law sets the maximum civil fine for most air quality
violations at $15,000 per day and most water quality violations at $10,000

per day, but federal law allows the federal environmental protection
agency to assess a maximum daily fine per violation of $47,357 for these
violations. Sections 2 and 4 of the bill raise the maximum fine to $47,357
per day and direct the air quality control commission and the water
quality control commission in the department of public health and
environment (department) to annually adjust the maximum fine based on
changes in the consumer price index.
Current law allocates all water quality fines to the water quality
improvement fund; section 4 authorizes the use of money in that fund to
pay for projects addressing impacts to environmental justice communities.
Section 4 also extends the repeal date for the water quality improvement
fund to September 1, 2025.
Current law allocates all air quality fines to the general fund;
section 3 allocates them to the newly created community impact cash
fund. Section 3 also:
  • Specifies that the department is to use money in the
community impact cash fund for environmental mitigation
projects (EMPs);
  • Defines an EMP as a project that avoids, minimizes, or
mitigates the adverse effects of a violation or alleged
violation of the air quality or water quality laws;
  • Creates the environmental justice advisory board to
recommend EMPs in response to violations or alleged
violations that affect environmental justice communities;
and
  • Creates an environmental justice ombudsperson position
within the department, who serves as chief staff to the
advisory board and advocates for environmental justice
communities.
Section 3 also requires the department to post proposed EMPs on
the department's website in a format that allows the public to submit
comments on the proposed EMP, not approve an EMP until at least 45
days after the EMP has been posted on its website, and include a
description of all approved EMPs in its departmental SMART Act
presentations.
Section 1 sunsets the advisory board on September 1, 2025.

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