News Digest - November 26, 2019

A bill directing the EPA to set a drinking water standard for PFAS has passed the House Energy & Commerce committee. The proposal is an amalgamation of eleven bills intended to bolster PFAS monitoring and regulation. If passed, it would require the EPA to set a drinking water standard for PFAS and require the Department of Defense to work toward addressing water contamination as a result of the use of PFAS-containing firefighting foam across the country.

Funds administered by the Texas Railroad Commission Brownfields Response Program, as well as the EPA’s Superfund program, have been put to use at a former saltwater disposal and hydrocarbon dump in Andrews. The site is now a restored wetland lagoon and birding site open to the public.

Speaker Dennis Bonnen released interim charges for the Texas State House of Representatives to study and report on before the 2021 legislative session, highlights include:

Ways & Means / Energy Resources

Evaluate the status of water recycling and reuse efforts in the oil and gas industry in Texas and elsewhere. Evaluate options for tax credits, deductions, or discounts to encourage recycling, treatment, or reuse of produced water from oil and gas production activities. Make recommendations on statutory or regulatory changes needed to promote recycling and reuse strategies for produced water.

Natural Resources

Conduct active oversight of all associated rulemaking and other governmental actions taken to ensure intended legislative outcome of:
• HJR 4, SB 7, and SB 8, which relate to statewide and regional flood planning and mitigation. Monitor the progress of the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) and other entities to provide for the planning, development, and financing of drainage, flood mitigation, and flood control projects statewide to strengthen the state's infrastructure and resiliency to future floods.
• HB 720, which relates to appropriations of water for recharge of aquifers and use in aquifer storage and recovery projects. Monitor the rulemaking process for the permitting of unappropriated flows for aquifer storage and recovery projects by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).
• HB 721, which relates to reports on aquifer storage and recovery and aquifer recharge projects. Monitor the implementation by the TWDB of legislation to encourage the development of aquifer storage and recovery and aquifer recharge projects, including the completion of a statewide study of the state's aquifers' suitability for aquifer storage and recovery and aquifer recharge projects.
• HB 807, which relates to the state and regional water planning process. Monitor the appointment of the Interregional Planning Council by the TWDB and the Council's progress toward increasing coordination among Regional Water Planning Groups.

Study the efforts of the TCEQ, the TWDB, and the Public Utility Commission of Texas to incentivize, promote, and preserve regional projects to meet water supply needs and encourage public and private investment in water infrastructure. Identify impediments or threats to regionalization with special emphasis on: prioritization in planning and implementing the State Water Plan, Regional Water Plan, and other recommended water supply projects; barriers to private investment and the development of public-private partnerships to implement needed water supply projects, including the retail water and wastewater industry, to address the state's growth challenges; public water and wastewater systems that are unable to meet federal and state standards due to inadequate operational capacity and factors that prevent such systems from being integrated into larger systems and processes that more easily facilitate the sale, transfer, or merger of systems; and state agency authority to regulate regional water supply pricing.

Monitor the joint planning process for groundwater and the achievement of the desired conditions for aquifers by groundwater conservation districts.

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