2010 Sunset Review Process

Several energy and environment-related agencies are currently undergoing review by the Texas Sunset Commission, including The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), The Texas Railroad Commission, and the Public Utility Commission. Through the Sunset process over the next 18 months, Texas has an opportunity to provide valuable information to the Sunset Commission about how well or poorly an agency performs its functions. TCEQ and other environmental and energy agenciescan be reformed to assure they are more protective of public health and the environment, more responsive to citizens, more transparent, and more accountable. 

TCPS will be involved in the work required during the early months of the Sunset process, which will include:

  • developing a series of research papers regarding crucial issues and comparing Texas in terms of best practices environmental policies to other states;
  • conducting a poll to assess how Texans view the state of our environment;
  • helping to coordinate efforts of up to 20 environmental and community organizations in communicating information to Sunset Commission staff and commissioners, press, cities, counties, businesses, and religious organizations;
  • and launching a public education campaign about the Sunset process, how citizens can participate, the issues that plague TCEQ, why this matters and how it impacts individuals and communities.

Individuals and organizations usually participate in the Sunset process by identifying potential issues for study and by commenting on proposed changes to the agency. The public can participate by:

  • Providing Input to Sunset Staff. The staff seeks input about the agencies under review from interested persons and organizations during the review. Comments can be submitted on an input form online or mailed to the Commission.
  • Commenting on Sunset Reports. Sunset reports are made available to the public before Sunset Commission hearings to provide an opportunity for public comment on the staff's findings and recommendations and on the agencies themselves. Comments can be submitted to the Sunset Commission by letter or by email.
  • Testifying at Public Hearings. The Commission holds public hearings on each agency under review. These hearings offer the public an opportunity to testify about an agency and comment on the Sunset staff's recommendations. Witness affirmation forms are available at the meeting if you would like to testify before the Commission Public hearings are webcast and archives are available.

While the main focus will be on the TCEQ, efforts will be reflected in suggested coordinated polices that should be adopted at other agencies, as well. Texas faces an unprecedented opportunity to advance laws and policiies on environmental quality and protect the lives and well-being of people throughout the state. It is crucial that the public plays an integral role in this process. A reformed TCEQ is needed.

Background
In 1977, the Texas Legislature created the Sunset Advisory Commission to identify and eliminate waste, duplication, and inefficiency in government agencies through a top to bottom review of an agency’s execution of its mission. The 12-member Commission reviews the policies and programs of more than 150 government agencies. Each agency is reviewed every 12 years. The Commission seeks public input through hearings and recommends actions on each agency to the full Legislature.

The Consortium
TCPS is part of a consortium of organizations who have an interest in making the TCEQ a more equitable and effective agency through the Sunset process. Current partners include:

  • Public Citizen
  • Environmental Defense Fund
  • Sierra Club, Lone Star Chapter
  • Galveston Houston Association for Smog Prevention
  • Mothers for Clean Air
  • Environmental Integrity Project
  • Texas Campaign for the Environment
  • Environment Texas
  • Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition
  • Texas Impact
  • Community In-Power and Development Association
  • Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services
  • Citizens for Environmental Justice
  • Caddo Lake Institute

 

Sunset Review Consultants

Project Director: Lize Burr - Alliance for Clean Texas

Research Director: Eric Allmon - Lowerre, Frederick, Perales, Allmon, and Rockwell

 

Have questions or comments? Contact Project Director Lize Burr at lize@allianceforcleantexas.org or (512) 619-7076.

 

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© 2010 Texas Center for Policy Studies