Tuesday, April 19, 2005

"They're Like Fire Ants"

The House Environmental Regulation Committee is meeting this morning, currently hearing HB 2886 by Rep. Jim Keffer (R - Eastland). His bill would regulate quarry operators in a 100-mile stretch of the Brazos River that currently operate without permits. Fly-by-night operators are able to lease land from a landowner or just on their own set up a quarry free from pesky government oversight. Witnesses testified that sediment loosened by these operators has severely damaged the environment, turning a once clear stream into the "Brazos Bayou."

One witness testified as to what happens when they get thrown off of one lot and why a permitting process is necessary. "They're like fire ants, they went up and occupied other mines." Some of the operators have been so egregious in their practices that the attorney general has brought lawsuits.

But to Rep. Dennis Bonnen (R - Angleton), this seemed to be evidence that the bill was unnecessary. "So the process is working. You are getting a significant response compared to other people we see in [this committee]," he said. Yes, representative, but suing a couple fire ants does nothing to exterminate the rest.