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Environment/Natural Resources Task Force

April 7, 2000
e-Texas Commission Members and Comptroller's Office Staff Hear Environment and Natural Resource Concerns in the Rio Grande Valley
Information access, electronic permitting and regulatory reporting, and innovative compliance methods are all taking advantage of new technology in the environment and natural resource business, according to testimony given at the e-Texas Environment and Natural Resources Task Force public hearing in Weslaco.   More-->
Dr. Schwartz

Noe Fernandez, Task Force Commissioner

In Texas there are 12 state agencies charged with the protection of Texas' natural resources. In fiscal 2000, these agencies are budgeted to spend about $911 million, or 2 percent of the total state budget. This expenditure is intended to ensure air and water quality and adequate water supplies; manage waste disposal safely; maintain adequate energy sources; operate and safeguard parklands and open spaces; protect nature's biological diversity; and keep the state's beaches clean and safe.

As the nation approaches the new millennium, government agencies charged with protecting public health and environment are rethinking traditional strategies. New ideas and approaches to protecting the environment are emerging that break with the traditional command and control techniques of the past. These new strategies are increasingly embracing market-based tools such as pollutant trading and voluntary pollution reduction programs. Problem solving methodologies that find solutions to individual problems instead of developing costly programs that do nothing more than treat the symptom instead of curing the disease are also being examined. These problem solving methodologies also seek to bring decision-making authority to the lowest level possible so that solutions to problems are devised at the appropriate level whether it be local, regional, state, or federal. Additionally, emerging new monitoring technologies will enable government to develop strategies that hold regulated entities accountable for the results of their actions instead of relying on prescriptive requirements.

Some examples of innovative approaches in Texas include Clean Texas 2000 and the voluntary cleanup program. Clean Texas 2000 is a voluntary program that works with industrial facilities, businesses, state and local governments, communities, schools, and organizations to promote conservation, recycling, and the reduction of pollution and hazardous and nonhazardous waste. The Texas voluntary cleanup program encourages cleanups of contaminated properties around the state by providing a certificate of completion that releases a property owner from future environmental liability. By removing disincentives and setting clear standards, more than 300 contaminated properties have been cleaned up in just four years.

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