Thanks EPA, We Needed That

We all know that Texas is a special place and that things operate differently here than in any other place in the country. One thing that isn’t different, however, is the way toxic pollutants impact our health. Texans aren’t any more immune to the health impacts of air pollutants than other Americans, no matter how big and bad we think we are.

So we’d like to give a big shout out to EPA for forcing the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), our state environmental agency, to make sure that every Texan receives the same protections from toxic air pollution as every other American.

Here are some facts about emissions of air toxics across the state

  • Facilities in Texas released almost 90 million pounds of hazardous air pollutants in 2008, according to EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory.
  • Facilities in Texas released almost 30 million pounds of toxics considered to be cancer-causing by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in 2008.
  • Approximately 80 percent of all benzene and 1,3-butadiene emissions in the country in 2008 were in the state of Texas.

Our hope is that EPA will continue to pressure the TCEQ into doing the right thing. And by doing the right thing, we mean that EPA should require TCEQ to:

  • Issue permits that comply with the federal Clean Air Act.
  • Require that the best available control technologies (BACT) are used to capture toxic pollutants released from facilities.
  • Ensure adequate monitoring around facilities to help protect the health of those living there.
  • Protect the public’s right to know about and participate in permitting decisions affecting the air they breathe.

As we’ve mentioned in previous blogs, Texas has a serious problem with toxic air pollution. For too long, TCEQ has sided with the polluters and largely ignored the health impacts on everyday Texans. We applaud EPA for stepping in and doing what our own state government has proven unwilling to do.

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