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Texas lawmakers hope to prevent another chemical explosion

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Texas - State officials are now urging that oversight of chemical plants be improved.

This is all in an effort to prevent future catastrophes.

Since the West Fertilizer Plant explosion, many questions have been raised.

That's why two Texas lawmakers are now presenting ideas that aim to better monitor hazardous sites across the state.

Democratic Representative Joe Pickett of El Paso, chairman of the House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee, has invited eight state agencies that have oversight on the West plant or the explosion to testify at a hearing on Wednesday.

They hope to obtain information on how the operation of facilities relates to public safety.

The committee also wants a count of all Texas facilities to then determine if a database is needed.

Democratic Senator Rodney Ellis of Houston is asking the Texas Environmental Quality Commission whether they would support assessing new fees on Texas industries to pay for increased inspections.

The agency's budget was cut from $554 million in 2008 to $340 million this year.

Ellis is also asking whether new fees may be considered to create new "buffer zones" to protect neighboring areas; such as schools or homes near chemical facilities.

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