Legislator tells of killing bill allowing toxic sludge in Victoria

  • AWARDS

  • The Victoria Chamber of Commerce handed out several awards Wednesday during its August luncheon. Those include:

    Small-business partner of the month: Crossroads Mechanical Inc.

    Corporate business partner of the month: DeTar Healthcare System

    Ambassador of the quarter: Karoyn Scogin

Rep. Geanie Morrison said she's never before raised a point of order to kill a bill. For toxic sludge in Victoria County, however, she made an exception.

" ... Usually, I can help kill it in other ways," she said of bills she finds fault with. "But this one was so bad that it needed to go away."

Morrison spoke to about 150 people Wednesday at the Victoria Chamber of Commerce's monthly luncheon, updating them on the recently-ended 83rd Legislative Session.

The item at hand was House Bill 2996, filed by Rep. Tracy King, D-Batesville. Morrison said the bill would allow for "a very toxic sludge" to be deposited in a particular area of Victoria.

She said she worked with Jerry James, director of intergovernmental relations for the city of Victoria, and with Victoria County to eventually kill the item.

"It was amazing," she said. "It was not only Victoria County, but when people realized what was going on, there was a huge push to not have that happen."

The affected area is near Inez, and sludge application has taken place as a means of disposal there for some time, James said. He said the bill came because permitting was running out for the company behind it.

James declined to give the company's name because of the ongoing permitting process but said he took issue with the fact that the bill would have altered Texas state law solely for one company's needs.

"You don't need to change state law to address every individual situation," he said. "When you change a law, it brings unintended consequences."

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality website lists 21 Victoria County companies with sludge permits.

Inez's On the Move Transportation is on the list, but the Advocate in 2004 reported on another company listed, Arenosa Creek Ranch, which sits 10 miles northwest of Inez.

In 2004, San Antonio's Beneficial Land Management was working to establish a sludge dump site on the ranch.

Attempts to reach Arenosa Creek Ranch were not successful.

Morrison also discussed other events that took place throughout the session.

She said the most important action taken was to stop Medicaid expansion, for instance, and noted that half of the house was comprised of freshman or sophomore legislators.

Another issue important to Aransas County - allowing residents to drive golf carts on streets - also passed.

Morrison described the recently ended session as a busy one. Not only that, but it was long.

"It's really interesting. Only the Texas Legislature can turn 140 days into seven months, since we just finished last Monday," she said to a chuckling crowd.