Thursday, April 09, 2009

Pearland lawmaker learns the ropes early

Scratch the back of Randy Weber, the new state representative from Pearland, and he'll give you a back scratch in return.

The quid pro quo in this case involves the permitting of industries that pollute, reports Texas Watchdog.

The Pearland Republican’s legislation would streamline the permit review process, which would save energy companies the hassle of taking their plans directly to the public –and could save them money on the lawyers and lobbyists who do the day-to-day work of securing a permit. The measure would also make it harder for citizen groups to organize and make their case to state regulators.
For example, Weber’s bill would undo the “the opportunity for contested case hearings.” That’s the main chance the public has to voice concerns about how an aging coal plant has polluted the air, soil and water in their neighborhood. Hearings like this also grab media coverage and catch the attention of citizens who weren’t yet aware that a power-generating facility was coming to town.


All told, Weber collected at least $15,000 from energy-related donors last year, according to records on file with the Texas Ethics Commission.
Other Weber donors include Chevron PACs ($1,000), Texas Oil and Gas PAC ($1,000), ExxonMobil ($2000) and Chevron ($1,000)–all of whom, like Simmons, have a lot to gain from a bill that weakens regulations on energy companies.
Texas Watchdog left a message with Weber’s office Wednesday. We’ll update you if we hear from him.

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