ACG C.S.H.B. 2705 75(R) BILL ANALYSIS ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATION C.S.H.B. 2705 By: Chisum 4-18-97 Committee Report (Substituted) BACKGROUND The Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC) administers a voluntary cleanup program which became effective September 1, 1995. Under the program, a person may cleanup a contaminated site with the approval and oversight of the TNRCC. When the site has been remediated to the appropriate cleanup level, the site owner is provided with a Certificate of Completion and future landowners receive a release from liability to the state. The program encourages economic development of remediated property by insuring that future landowners are not responsible for contamination caused by previous owners. Moreover, cleanup of contaminated sites may be achieved through: (1) an enforcement order issued by the TNRCC; (2) federal or state superfund programs; or (3) the Federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Voluntary cleanup of contaminated sites through the use of private funds can be accomplished faster and more efficiently than these other methods. To facilitate participation in voluntary cleanup, the program needs improvement to increase further the benefits presently being realized by the state. This bill contemplates the need to negotiate the implementation of the new provisions of the voluntary cleanup program with the United States Environmental Protection Agency to insure the retention of existing state programs. PURPOSE C.S.H.B. 2705 expands the voluntary cleanup program to allow a narrow group of past or current owners, who are currently ineligible, to participate in the program. Specifically, a landowner who acquired a site prior to September 1, 1995, who did not cause any contamination at the site prior to the date they acquired it, would be eligible for release from liability under limited circumstances. The TNRCC will be afforded greater flexibility to allow contaminated sites to be part of a voluntary cleanup program. RULEMAKING AUTHORITY It is the committee's opinion that this bill does not expressly grant any additional rulemaking authority to a state officer, department, agency or institution. SECTION BY SECTION ANALYSIS SECTION 1. Amends Section 361.603, Health & Safety Code, by adding Subsection (c) which allows TNRCC to transfer a site or a portion of a site that is subject to a permit or order into the voluntary cleanup program, but any administrative penalty is nonrefundable. SECTION 2. Adds Section 361.6035 to Subchapter S, Chapter 361, Health & Safety Code, which allows a person who purchased a site prior to September 1, 1995, to be released from liability to the state upon the issuance of a Certificate of Completion if prior to purchasing the property the person was not an operator or generator on the site, and a responsible party, other than the person released, remains subject to liability to the state for contamination in existence before the date the certificate is issued.. SECTION 3. Amends Section 361.604(b), Health & Safety Code, to require that certain additional information be included in an application to participate in the voluntary cleanup program. SECTION 4. Effective date. SECTION 5. Emergency clause. COMPARISON OF ORIGINAL TO SUBSTITUTE C.S.H.B. 2705 removes provisions in the filed version authorizing responsible parties to be completely released from liability to the state for the cleanup of a contaminated site. C.S.H.B. 2705 removes from the filed version the provision authorizing the resubmission of a rejected application. C.S.H.B. 2705 removes requirements from the filed version that all identified persons in an application to participate in a voluntary cleanup program be relieved from liability. C.S.H.B. 2705 removes the provision in the filed version authorizing the person who undertook the voluntary cleanup and the current owner of the site to petition the commission to review a determination by the executive director that a voluntary cleanup program has not been successfully completed. C.S.H.B. 2705 removes the provision from the filed version that precludes the application of a release from liability to persons changing land use from the use specified in the certificate of completion if the new use may result in increased risks to human health or the environment. C.S.H.B. 2705 removes the provision in the filed version that precludes the application of a release from liability to persons disturbing or modifying the remediation accomplished during the voluntary cleanup in a manner that may result in increased risks to human health or the environment.