Environmental Coalition Will Keep A Close Watch On State Legislators
As the legislative year begins, a major watchdog group for the Edwards Aquifer has claimed some successes for 2014 and said it would be keeping a close eye on what lawmakers did this year.
The Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance, a coalition of 51 community, religious, environmental and business organizations that want to create a more impactful voice for the environment and the aquifer, has stated that it would be following state legislation carefully to make sure the coalition retains its ability to advocate for the environment.
GEAA Executive Director, Annalisa Peace, said the group would focus on monitoring legislation that it fears could potentially restrict access to the State Office of Administrative Hearings, or SOAH.
“That’s where you can go and protest a permit. And we do that all the time. So people will put in a permit for a sewage-treatment plant – that’s one that we would be most involved with – but it also involves air permits for different industries,” she said.
A Sunset Review of SOAH in December found it provided a needed and independent venue for contested matters. However, the review also was somewhat critical of the agency’s ability to manage its caseload. Peace is concerned that SOAH might still face hurdles in the legislature by way of industry lobbyists.
Peace said the Aquifer Alliance had some solid successes in 2014, including the public purchase of lands that would protect the Bracken Bat Preserve and the natural resources nearby.