Laws? We Don't Need No Stinking Laws — If They Hamper Texas Hurricane Recovery

AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott has suspended more than 200 state laws and regulations since Hurricane Harvey smashed into the Texas Gulf Coast in August.In an effort to speed recovery from the largest disaster Texas has ever faced, Abbott has shelved at least 214 regulations meant to prevent air and water pollution, preserve hospital safety and even to inhibit the spread of disease among horses."Governor Abbott took these actions to expedite aid to Texans and to help ensure supplies that were needed could be delivered as quickly as possible. These rules were suspended in order expedite debris removal, help get fuel to affected areas and ensure Texans were getting the medical care they needed," Abbott spokesman John Wittman said in a statement.Local officials in hard-hit communities praise Abbott and his red-tape cutting, saying it has made the long, difficult road to recovery significantly smoother. But critics worry that loosening regulations, particularly environmental rules, could worsen already toxic situations along the coast where refineries and sewage from facilities have spewed dangerous pollutants into the air and water.“These waivers of environmental laws definitely could have compounded the impacts to public health,” said Luke Metzger, executive director of Environment Texas. “If you don’t have to follow the rules, then you may not do so.”  Continue reading...

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