Selected tag(s): TCEQ

Part III: Flawed Logic at Texas Environmental Agency Results in Costly Lawsuits and Poor Public Health Policy

https://www.flickr.com/photos/rkimpeljr/209687857/in/photolist-jwGTT-sPNXn-b6WTeX-6Rcx6B-32dh5E-328Zf6-9LgCmw-b8zLCz-dCVDGi-aApWyE

There is robust agreement on the dangers of ozone pollution in the medical health community.

Part I of our series on ozone described how 2015 was a bad year for Houston ozone. Part II reviewed recent research from leading Houston scientists that explains why more ozone pollution is harmful to our health. Part III explains how faulty logic and erroneous assumptions had led to costly lawsuits and poor public health policy across the state. Part IV will identify some solutions to Houston’s ozone problem and suggest measures to protect the health of Houston area residents.

There has been quite a bit of activity related to the proposed U.S. ozone regulations in the past year. As part of a four part series on ozone in 2015, we’d like to take the time to rebuke some of the scientifically-flawed testimony provided by state environmental officials, including Dr. Michael Honeycutt, toxicologist for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), the state environmental agency. We feel that the agency has presented health information in a way that is misleading and contradicts the robust opinion of the medical health community on the issue.

First, a little context is important. We at Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) have participated in the public process involving the ozone standard and provided testimony to Congress on the health effects of ozone exposure. TCEQ has challenged the health-based standards in an aggressive way, and their efforts have been fodder for expensive and frivolous lawsuits filed by the state. Read More »

Posted in Air Pollution, Environmental Justice, Environmental Protection Agency, Houston, Ozone, TCEQ, Uncategorized| Also tagged , | 2 Responses

Ditch those Dirty Diesels (“TERP” that Old Truck or Tractor!)

Image Source: Flickr/TruckPR

TCEQ can pay for the replacement of dirty diesel equipment with cleaner equivalent machines.

Have you ever heard of “TERPing”?  (Hint: it has nothing to do with pop music singers.)

In Texas, it’s shorthand for when the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) pays owners of dirty diesel equipment to reduce emissions by purchasing cleaner equivalent machines. The program, called the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (the “TERP” in “TERPing”), is a voluntary incentive program focused on improving air quality in the metropolitan areas of the state that have issues with meeting federal clean air requirements for ozone.

Since the TCEQ is accepting applications now, consider “TERPing” your older truck or equipment to apply for some of the $20 million* currently available. It’s a win-win program for all involved that we’ve written about before: Texas gets cleaner air and makes progress on its commitment to meet health-based ozone standards, and owners of heavy-duty equipment get new, cleaner machines.

Read More »

Posted in Air Pollution, TCEQ| Also tagged , | Comments are closed

Rustic or Dangerous? Why Keeping Treated Wood Materials Indoors Can be a Bad Idea

Telephone poles, cross ties, and other wood materials can be treated with chemicals that are dangerous to keep indoors.

Telephone poles, cross ties, and other wood materials can be treated with chemicals that are dangerous to keep indoors.

The below is a guest post from Mike Honeycutt, Director of Toxicology at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Environmental Defense Fund appreciates the agency’s efforts to alert the public about a serious indoor air health issue.

At the Toxicology Division of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), we often receive phone calls from citizens with questions about various environmental concerns. Over the past few months, we received several calls asking if it is safe to use old wood materials inside homes, the most concerning of which came this past week from a realtor in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. She had shown several homes recently that she suspected had used treated wood materials from telephone poles and cross ties as rustic accents. The realtor was concerned about using those materials inside where people could be exposed – and her intuition was spot-on. Read More »

Posted in Air Pollution, TCEQ| Also tagged | Comments are closed

TCEQ-Sponsored Workshop Undermines Public Health Benefits of Ozone Standard

ozone workshop smokestack 6.1.15Several weeks ago, I attended an ozone workshop sponsored by the toxicology division at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and facilitated by Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment (TERA). Ozone, a component of smog, is a harmful air pollutant that is associated with adverse health effects including asthma attacks, decreased lung function, and premature death.

EPA has proposed new National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) within the range of 65-70 parts per billion (ppb), and, according to TCEQ, this workshop was "designed to provide an independent evaluation and synthesis of key considerations for approaching the difficult ozone NAAQS decision."

Given the importance of this pollutant to public health, it is unfortunate a state environmental agency – that has plenty of other higher priority issues – chose to spend taxpayer money on a workshop designed to mislead the public and present a one-sided perspective on the issue.

What were the problems with TCEQ’s workshop? Read More »

Posted in Air Pollution, Environmental Protection Agency, Ozone, TCEQ, Uncategorized| Also tagged , , | Comments are closed

Those Who Forget History in Texas are Doomed to Repeat It

(Credit: whoever)

Texas is home to some of the highest polluting power plants in the country.

Recently, the Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office announced plans to challenge the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed Clean Power Plan, which would place limits on carbon emissions from existing power plants for the first time in the country. A few days afterward, Texas Governor and former State Attorney General Greg Abbott pledged support for Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell's Just Say No campaign, an effort to encourage states not to comply with the upcoming federal regulations.

Apparently Texas has a short memory. Just a couple of years ago, Texas lost a series of challenges to EPA regarding greenhouse gas (GHG) permitting. Texas refused to issue GHG permits to new and modified large industrial sources of greenhouse gas emissions, resulting in the establishment of a dual permitting system. This meant industrial facilities, like power plants and refineries, needed to apply to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) for some air permits and separately to EPA for the portion of their permit addressing greenhouse gases.

Ultimately, however, Texas industry urged the state to issue the GHG portion of air quality permits as well. And in an about face, after spending millions of taxpayer dollars fighting common sense regulations, Texas regained the ability to issue the state’s GHG permits. Read More »

Posted in Air Pollution, Climate Change, GHGs, TCEQ, Uncategorized| Also tagged , , , , | Read 1 Response

Shelley: EPA Mandate Would Benefit the Lives of all Houstonians

This post was written by Adrian Shelley, Air Alliance Houston Executive Director.

This op-ed originally appeared in the Houston Chronicle on February 22, 2014.

Adrian Shelly, Executive Director, Air Alliance Houston

Adrian Shelly, Executive Director, Air Alliance Houston

We know that ozone pollution is a public health threat in Houston. Now a study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency suggests that threat is greater than previously thought. As a result, the ozone standard is likely to be lowered by the end of the year. Houston has never met an ozone standard, but it is time for us to get serious about protecting our health.

The Environmental Protection Agency has been considering lowering the standard since 2008, when President George W. Bush's EPA revised it to 75 parts per billion. That revision defied an EPA recommendation for a standard as low as 70 parts per billion. Now the agency recommends that 60 parts per billion may be needed to protect public health.

Ozone, unlike other air pollutants, isn't restricted to certain parts of Houston. It's found everywhere, and it causes asthma attacks, heart disease and even early death. In the Houston region, 6 million people are at risk.

It is the responsibility of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to bring ozone down to healthy levels. In reacting to the EPA's new findings, the TCEQ focuses not on the need to protect public health, but on the regulatory burden of reducing air pollution. The TCEQ is already attacking the science behind the new study. TCEQ Chief Toxicologist Michael Honeycutt has questioned even the concept of an eight-hour ozone standard, suggesting in a Houston Chronicle story that it might be "more appropriate" to return to a one-hour standard, as the EPA had in the 1970s.  Read More »

Posted in Air Pollution, Environmental Protection Agency, Ozone| Also tagged | Comments are closed
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