Monthly Archives: December 2010

Five Air Pollution Stories You Might Have Missed in 2010

Another year has gone by, and air pollution is still making big news. The following stories represent just a smattering of the news that we’ve read over the year regarding air pollution and its impact on human health. Air pollution continues to be a serious, ongoing problem – not only in Texas, but also around the world. If you don’t have time to read all of the stories individually, just skim the headlines – you’ll get the gist. And revisit this blog in January, when I suggest solutions in the form of resolutions.

1. In China, Pollution Worsens Despite New Efforts [New York Times, registration required]. Rapid industrial growth has resulted in increased air pollution. One of the worst offenders is particulate matter, or fine dust, which when inhaled, tends to lodge deeply in the lungs, making them vulnerable to respiratory problems and others diseases like cancer. According to this story, the “average concentration of particulates in [Bejing’s] air violated the World Health Organization’s standards more than 80 percent of the time during the last quarter of 2008.” In addition, acid rain has become a problem in nearly half of the cities monitored. As if this weren’t bad enough news, a related article last week cites how pollution harms the economy as well: Hong Kong’s 2010 Pollution Level Is Worst on Record, Hurting City’s Image. Read More »

Posted in Air Pollution, Ozone, Particulate Matter| Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Response, comments now closed

A Cleaner 2011

It’s that time of year again – to commit to a new year’s resolution so that you might improve yourself in 2011.  As you come up with your own, tell us what they are and help inspire our Governor and Attorney General to commit to their own New Year’s Resolution. 

With a multi-billion dollar budget shortfall, we think it’s high time that Governor Perry and Attorney General Abbott commit to spending less tax payer money to fund frivolous lawsuits to help our state’s major polluters. 

Over the last year they have filed countless motions and suits in federal court aimed at circumventing federal laws that would require Texas to follow the same basic air quality standards followed by all the other 49 states.  After their loss yesterday, we think it’s time they gave up.

I think Texas is special myself, but it is because of that belief that I think we should do everything possible to make sure Texans are  breathing clean air and that we are preserving our environment for future generations.

Join us in asking the Governor and Attorney General to give up the frivolous law suits in 2011!  Save taxpayer money and the environment!

After all it was the Governor himself who has committed to stemming the flow of frivolous lawsuits.

Email the Governor Your Resolution and Tell Him To Commit To No Lawsuits For Polluters in 2011. 

Email the Attorney Your Resolution and Tell Him To Commit To No Lawsuits For Polluters in 2011.    

Or

Send us a message on Twitter with the hashtag #CleanAir2011

Posted in Air Pollution, Environment, TCEQ, Texas Permitting| Tagged , , , | 2 Responses, comments now closed

No Means No – Even in Texas!

Remember when you were a little kid and you’d ask your mom for something – like to spend the night at a friend’s house? And when she said no, you might ask your dad because you thought that he’d be easier to manipulate, I mean  more agreeable? You knew for sure that when your dad said no, that it really wasn’t a good idea.

Well, this is exactly what has happened in Texas today. The U.S. Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit (5th Circuit) denied the State of Texas’ motion to stay the Greenhouse Gas State Implementation Plan Call Rule (GHG SIP Call), concluding–as did the U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit (D.C. Circuit)–that Texas did not make the showing necessary to justify a stay. 

This was Texas’ latest (and hopefully last) attempt to forestall the implementation of the EPA’s stationary source GHG rules and to re-litigate issues Texas had already lost before the D.C. Circuit.  (EPA’s motion to dismiss the case or transfer it to the D.C. Circuit is still pending before the panel). 

With a looming deficit projected to be billions of dollars (even more than California’s!), why is Texas throwing away money that we don’t have? How many schools and nursing homes are suffering – operating on shoestrings right now – because of the state’s unwillingness to follow the same laws that every other state in the nation has to follow?

Let’s stop fighting the agency that is trying to protect us from ourselves.

Posted in Air Pollution, TCEQ, Texas Permitting| Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Response, comments now closed

Air Pollution: New Studies, Same Conclusions

While we can debate all day about specific levels or exact factors actually harming our health, we seem to know on a general level that air pollution just isn’t a good thing to have around. Science is constantly evolving, and we are learning more every day about the hazards of pollution and the role that the environment has on our health.  Recently, new reports on air pollution and disease have surfaced, providing more evidence that air quality may affect us even more than we thought.

Last week, researchers suggested a possible link between autism and children born of mothers living close to a freeway during the third trimester.  Heather Volk, lead author of the paper published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, told the LA Times that the study “isn’t saying exposure to air pollution causes autism” but that “it could be one of the factors that are contributing to its increase.”

Read More »

Posted in Air Pollution| Tagged , , , | 1 Response, comments now closed

Upset About Upset Emissions

A recent Houston Chronicle article mentions that though our state environmental agency issued 1,756 penalties last year against illegally polluting companies, the fines averaged just $8,300. Many of these companies produce billions of dollars in revenue, suggesting that what many have claimed for years is indeed true: It’s cheaper for companies to pay penalties than prevent pollution.

When public campaigns, official regulations, negligible fines and poor enforcement don’t work, clean air advocates resort to the courts for help. Filing lawsuits sometimes seems to be the only way to get the attention necessary for improving Texas air quality.

Likewise, you might have recently read about Sierra Club and Environment Texas seeking millions in penalties from a lawsuit they filed against the Exxon Baytown facility. Two similar suits, one against Shell and another Read More »

Posted in TCEQ| Tagged , , , , , | 3 Responses, comments now closed

Public Input Sought Next Week on TCEQ Review

Texans will have an opportunity to personally express their comments and concerns next week (Dec. 15, 16) when the Sunset Advisory Commission holds its final public hearing of the year on its formal review of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) at the State Capitol. This will be the final opportunity to communicate to the commission about our state environmental agency before it decides on formal recommendations to the 82nd Legislature.

Those especially concerned about Texas air quality should know that this review process happens just once every 12 years and represents the best opportunity to air grievances and suggest changes to the agency and its operations. Read More »

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TCEQ Takes Significant Step Toward Toxic Hotspot Reduction

My first blog post in April – 12-Step Program for TCEQ to Clean Up Air Pollutant “Hotspots” in Texas – critiqued the state environmental agency for inadequate protection of our health based on its 2009 Air Pollution Watch List report. The report outlined the history of several areas around the state with air pollution levels exceeding – some for more than a decade – the state’s own screening guidelines. Now, signs of improvement may be on the way with new guidance proposing better agency protocols and formal processes to list and delist polluted areas. While long overdue, this guidance is the result of an internal agency effort to prioritize the remediation of these areas and should be commended. Read More »

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