BATON ROUGE – With the state legislature's rejection of a proposal that would have required facilities violating state and federal pollution guidelines to install fence-line air monitoring systems, a bill that did pass in regular session has caught a business industry advocate's eye.
"Rep. (Patrick) Connick passed House Resolution 186 in the regular session," Louisiana Association of Business and Industry's (LABI) Energy and Civil Justice Reform Council Director Lauren Chauvin told the Louisiana Record. "It urges and requests the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to study the feasibility of sharing internal real-time emissions data from certain facilities with first responders."
HR 186 is one of two measures Marrero Republican Connick pushed during the state legislature's Regular and Extraordinary sessions this year. There also was House Bill 469, which would have required facilities in violation of state and federal environmental guidelines to line their fences with air monitors. LABI did not support that legislation for a number of reasons, Chauvin said. The proposal would have cost the state’s Department of Environmental Quality $16 million over five years to implement technology, keep it updated and monitor its readings, he said.
Implementation would have been especially irksome for small state facilities required to install the air monitoring system, Chauvin said. Each monitor would cost an estimated $500,000 and even small sites would have required four monitors, running costs up to $1.6 million to $4 million per facility, he said.
The legislation also would have moved environmental and air quality standards enforcement from the DEQ, running the risk of litigation, Chauvin said. "Mandating real-time data reporting is irresponsible," Chauvin said. "The data itself is inaccurate and unreliable. Publishing that data to the public promotes hysteria and fear instead of passing along knowledge and information."
While LABI did not support HB 469, but it was supported by environmental group Louisiana Bucket Brigade.
HB 469 was introduced into the state House in March, but failed to get much support there. Only 24 House members voted for the bill while 65 voted against when it came up for a vote May 17. Fifteen lawmakers were absent from the House vote. The vote effectively killed the proposal for the legislative session.
The following week, Connick introduced HR 186 into the House. That proposal requested the DEQ to do a feasibility study of sharing internal real-time emissions data from certain facilities with first responders. That resolution was unanimously adopted in a vote June 1 with yeas 92. Thirteen lawmakers were absent from that vote.
The state legislature's Extraordinary session ended Thursday, June 23, with no further action on HR 186.
"We will see if Connick's HR186 will lead to anything next year," Chauvin said.