Electro Purification regulation effort hits skids

An effort to regulate pumping of a proposed Hays groundwater project appears to be on life-support following opposition by a key lawmaker.

State Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, said a bill aimed at putting restrictions on a project by Electro Purification, which could pump as much as 5.3 million gallons of water a day, had statewide implications for contract law, private property rights and water district law.senate perry campbell 01

Perry, the chair of the agriculture, water and rural affairs committee, is seeking to water down the bill, which is the companion of a House measure championed by state Rep. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs.  (The senate version is authored by Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels.)

“We have to look at this in the global sense and not as an overreach of the state that would nullify a contract,” said Perry. (Electro Purification has contracted to sell the water from its Hays County project to the city of Buda, the planned Anthem subdivision near Mountain City and the Goforth Water Special Utility District.)

“We have to get back to science, and put politics and passion aside,” Perry continued. A contested report, paid for by Electro Purification, found that the proposed project would not lead to a drawdown of wells from the Edwards Aquifer or the Upper Trinity Aquifer, up to 550 feet below ground.

On the House floor on Thursday, Isaac chastised Perry for interfering in a bill that he says has widespread local support and affects only people within Isaac’s district.

“There’s a senator on the other side of this building that thinks he needs to rewrite this bill,” Isaac said. He continued: “You’ve heard of McCarthyism, a campaign to spread fear. Modern day McCarthyism is very similar,” he said, blaming the spread of “fear, deceit and disinformation” about his bill.

The McCarthyism comment appeared to be a dig at Edmond McCarthy, the water lawyer representing Electro Purification.

McCarthy declined to comment on Isaac’s remarks.

Author: Asher Price

Asher Price has covered energy and the environment for the American-Statesman since 2006. Twice the Society of Environmental Journalists has named him a finalist for its beat reporter of the year award. He spent part of the spring of 2011 as an environmental science journalism fellow at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass., and during the 2011-12 academic year was stationed at Columbia’s business and journalism schools as a Knight-Bagehot fellow. He is the co-author of the book The Great Texas Wind Rush: How George Bush, Ann Richards and a Bunch of Tinkerers Helped the Oil and Gas State Win the Race to Wind Power. (UT Press.) His new book, Year of the Dunk, comes out in May 2015. He lives in the South Congress neighborhood with his wife and dog.

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