The House Committee on Environmental Regulation met on August 23 to take up HB 7 (Landgraf) relating to the transportation, storage, or disposal of high-level radioactive waste. The bill was passed out of the committee with 6 ayes and 1 nay.

This report is intended to give you an overview and highlight of the discussions on the various topics taken up. It is not a verbatim transcript of the discussions but is based upon what was audible or understandable to the observer and the desire to get details out as quickly as possible with few errors or omissions.


Opening Comments

  • Chair notes public comment portal is open


HB 7 (Landgraf) relating to the transportation, storage, or disposal of high-level radioactive waste

  • Bill laid out by author; impetus is license that could be issued as soon as next month
  • Bill aims to keep high level waste out of Texas and Andrews
  • Goodwin – heard about concern on greater than class C (GTCC), reason why bill does not address those as well?
    • Bill limited in such a way, call for special session relates to high level nuclear waste
    • Has heard similar concerns but before he unilaterally adds, wants to get feedback and be compliant with call
    • Doesn’t want to miss chance to send message as NRC considers issuing license
    • Commissioner Resolution spells out they support existing facility but concern is high level waste
    • Trying to expedite getting feedback from local officials and those who weighed in at the public hearings – if he gets feedback they want to move forward then with that feedback
  • Goodwin – did you intend bill language to address government agencies with the word “persons”?
    • Language used in bill taken up in regular session
    • Person would apply to entities they want to prohibit
  • Goodwin – could it be clearer to say government agencies and person?
    • At risk when making it clearer could make it less clear
  • Goodwin – your intent is for companies?
    • Yes, that is the intent
  • Goodwin – are there any outstanding applications?
    • There is one pending now so Sept 13 is earliest date NRC can issue license
  • Goodwin – anything addressing water quality?
    • Provisions of bill said if license is granted, TCEQ would be prohibited from issuing permits


Public Testimony

Cyrus Reed, Lone Star Chapter of Sierra Club – On

  • “Good intent but needs more teeth”
  • Would like to see the reactor related greater than class c added to the bill, believes governor call is wide enough
  • Would like language to address no other applications in case one gets started now, “unless TCEQ had already approved”
  • Landgraf – clarified state is going on record to oppose with bill language


Carolyn Crume, Self – Against

  • Bill should clearly state that Texas oppose license not just high level nuclear waste
  • Provides her concerns on GTCC that she believes should be included in bill language
  • No penalties in bill – falls short of expectations
  • Goodwin – reactor waste should be stored underground but your concern is that it would be above ground and why?
    • Yes, people behind her may answer that better
  • Goodwin – asked Chair if he new if it needed to be stored above ground or below
    • License not issued yet, not sure


Becky Halpin, Self – Against

  • Get rid of “person” language in bill, finds it confusing
  • Wants stronger language in bill to prohibit, add GTCC
  • License does not separate out entities, thinks bill should also be blanket for both entities
  • Request language to be cleaned up in bill
  • Dominguez – asked if transportation concern was about flying waste in
    • No
    • “Stored on site but just slightly off site” concern


Richard Halpin, Self – Against

  • Applaud effort put into bill but will not protect Texas
  • Will not protect against waste GTCC
  • Bill needs stronger language
  • Would like to see investigation of site before moving forward
  • Andrews county needs to be included
  • Applications for high level nuclear waste in Texas and New Mexico, concerned it will ever get moved again and will “position our land”


Suzzie Bell Gossley, League of Women Voters – Against

  • Proposed brakes such as TCEQ permits could be good but it is not clear if they are required
  • Penalties are not clear
  • Does not think transportation provision is valid due to interstate commerce clause
  • Notes WCS President said they are not asking to increase curies and volume but they have done so at every session except two
  • Landgraf – looking at ways to address concerns, do you think no bill at all is better than this one considering Sept 13 is date NRC is scheduled to issue license?
    • A concise statement is needed from legislature in agreement with Governor, there is no high level in this state – none of it
    • Doesn’t agree with choices its either this or none, says they should change the bill or amend it on the floor
    • Says members “finagle” stuff all the time, they can make stuff happen
    • Decision has to be made the people or the company – this bill does not help the people
    • Back and forth continues between chair and witness on this question


Tom ‘Smitty’ Smith, Public Citizen – Against

  • Would like to support the bill, believes there are way to do that
  • For example author was looking earlier today at GTCC
  • Grateful to bill author and governor and others who are speaking out
  • Problem with bill is that it does not have the kind of teeth they think it had
  • Argue transportation section does not do what author says, thinks language could be tweaked to address
  • Thinks may already be covering GTCC in bill but it needs any clarification
  • Originally did not think water section had any teeth but just spoke with TCEQ and heard they will require WCS permit
  • Needs clear band language in bill
  • Landgraf – interstate commerce discussion is a point well taken but many states in this boat & TCEQ does have ability to address
    • Reactors are out of state and would have to come into Texas, so this language penalizes Texas companies
    • Agrees TCEQ has fines but their fines don’t deter much


Karen Hadden, SEED Coalition – Against

  • Agree with idea of bill but want to include reactor and GTCC waste
  • Explains GTCC
  • Needs clarity in bill language and definitions
  • Points out Andrews petition that has been signed
  • Would be supportive if they can get fixes they have asked for


Ashley Forbes, TCEQ – On

  • Resource witness
  • Author notes the bill language has exceptions for university campuses and research reactors
  • Landgraf – asked about penalties?
    • If something not done, the entity would be subject to potential enforcement
  • Morrison –If bill passes, could license holder store more waste than what is currently being stored either permanently or in interim?
    • Don’t believe so, but notes lots of complex federal issues that are changing


Author Closes on Bill

  • Goodwin – have you seen online petition of 600 people of banning GTCC?
    • Have not; but discussing with many people and opposition of GTCC
    • Looks forward to having quick discussions with those in Andrews in the next few hours
  • Goodwin – hearing concerns and wants to know why GTCC not included?
    • Heard hours of testimony with little to any discussion on GTCC, discussion was on high level nuclear waste
  • Goodwin – hears issue is not including GTCC, asked bill author is open to amending bill and commitment to not allowing an amendment that would reduce fees on the floor
    • GTCC is not high level but if important to have discussion, thinks there can be an expedited discussion on it while being mindful of looming deadline
  • Author remarks
    • Bill not all things to all people
    • Better to have bill than to not
    • Open to having conversation about changes but need to do quickly and it must comply with the call
  • Dean – made it clear you are asking for and receiving feedback from the county? Looking today at a bill that will move the process forward
    • Yes
    • Time is of the essence, need to get it out and clean
    • Dean comments they still have time to hear concerns even if they vote the bill out of committee

Bill Reported out Favorably to full House (6-1)