Executive Director’s Message By Ches Blevins: Personal Privilege Comment

While I’m not at all sure I HAVE some personal privilege to comment, I’m pretty sure I can get away with it. I’m in the “ask forgiveness” camp. Okay, why am I involved with TMRA? I had 10 really great experience-gaining years working for two state agencies (what is now the TCEQ and the Railroad Commission) before entering the private practice of law in 1983. I’ve had the opportunity to work with our Texas and United States mining, power and reclamation industries since I joined the Surface Mining and Reclamation Division of the Railroad Commission of Texas (“RCT” and NOT “RRC”) in 1977. First in the regulatory, permitting and compliance side, while at the RCT, and then representing the industry starting shortly after entering private practice. I’m fairly sure I’ve been an active member of TMRA since around 1985. 

While at the RCT, I became aware of TMRA and its outreach on behalf of our Texas Mining Industry. When a mining client was assigned to me shortly after entering private practice by the person I subsequently worked for and with for 24-plus years, Robin Lloyd, I realized that I needed to know more, to understand more, if I was to represent this client or the mining and power generation industry in the most effective way possible. What I thought I knew from my time with the TCEQ (Old Texas Water Quality Board) and the RCT was only a part of this necessary education. It helped, for sure, but I needed to understand the goals, objectives, needs, concerns of our industries if I was to really be effective as an advocate. Bottom line: TMRA Membership and Active Participation was the key!

In TMRA I learned the issues, the challenges, the business of mining and reclamation plus the advantages of working as a TEAM, with ONE VOICE to craft and advocate for solutions, the best path forward. I learned that our industries are committed to their business plan and objectives, for sure, but with no less a degree of commitment to their workers, communities, suppliers, consultants and, very importantly, to protecting and enhancing the environment. The all too common outcry of “business profit over environmental protection” was simply wrong. TMRA, I found, was the avenue, with ONE VOICE, always truthful, to disseminate this other side of the story. Over the last decade, even longer, TMRA’s Education and Outreach, thanks to its Members and our Education Team headed by Francye Hutchins, has been a fantastic avenue for disseminating this positive message. More recently our PR and Social Media Team headed by Christian Goff and Pure Energy, has stepped up to lead a new arm of this education and outreach effort.

One other TMRA positive point, and I would be dishonest if I didn’t make this point: TMRA Membership is and has been an absolutely critical reason that I have had the privilege of representing a number of our Mining, Power Generation and Reclamation companies over the years. Membership allowed me to know the industry issues, concerns and objectives. It allowed me to participate WITH those in the industry so that we understood, trusted, and knew we could work together. This was and continues to be a long-term commitment and, fortunately, the two law firms I had the privilege to be a part of recognized the importance of long-term relationships and supported this effort. Happy to report that those two firms, Lloyd Gosselink and Jackson Walker, are still strong supporters of TMRA and of its Mission.

Thanks to ALL of you who have made my personal and professional journey one that has been more than I could have ever dreamed or deserved!