TCEQ Response: Media Weigh In

After my last blog post, the predicted sound bite war showed signs of both sides mounting full force. We intend to continue our established role as environmental truth purveyors and set the record straight whenever necessary.

Coincidentally, Texas media have begun weighing in through two recent newspaper editorials which support our position that TCEQ is in need of a reality check (did someone mention Sunset Review?).

On May 28, the Dallas Morning News called TCEQ on its lack of adherence to federal regulations in “TCEQ is ceding control by digging in its heels,” writing:

“For more than a year, the Obama administration has been beating the same drum, telling the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality that its permitting system falls short of federal standards. Yet some Texas leaders and regulators still seem shocked – shocked – that the EPA made good on its promise last week and stripped the state of some of its permitting powers. In meeting after meeting, federal officials have urged the TCEQ to change its approach to regulating industrial air pollution. The Texas response to the EPA? ‘You just don’t understand.’”

And then, responding to Governor Perry’s negative reaction, wrote:

“Incredibly, Gov. Rick Perry has weighed in with what amounts to self-righteous indignation, claiming that the federal government has “put a bull’s-eye on the backs of hardworking Texans.” If anyone should shoulder responsibility for leaving industrial facilities in this uncomfortable position, it’s Perry. The TCEQ is populated entirely with Perry appointees, who have been told in no uncertain terms that businesses’ interests are a top priority. Ultimately, though, it’s businesses that could pay a price for the state’s lack of rigor in enforcing environmental regulations.”

On May 27, The Fort Worth Star-Telegram ran an editorial titled: “Texas governor should watch what he says about EPA” and wrote:

“Gov. Rick Perry’s response to this week’s Environmental Protection Agency clean-air enforcement actions in Texas might help him sell his book or even get re-elected, but they won’t resolve the EPA’s long-running objections to state policy or help Texans understand the issues involved . . . But the governor is wrong to blame the EPA’s action on President Barack Obama. Documents available on the TCEQ website show the EPA objected to the Texas permit process at least as long ago as 2006, under the administration of President George W. Bush. Those objections have been the subject of continuing meetings and often strongly worded correspondence between EPA and TCEQ officials ever since.”

The Star-Telegram acknowledged Perry’s emphasis on jobs for Texans, but rightfully said that “. . . he shows a dark side when he says this week’s action means EPA officials ‘are willing to kill Texas jobs and derail one of the strongest economies in the country.'” And after mentioning TCEQ’s similar claims, the Star-Telegram shamed both parties with these summative statements:

“Emotional overstatements might fit political campaigns or book marketing plans, but they are out of place here. At a time when a botched oil well has spewed nobody knows how many thousands of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, Texas officials should think twice before downplaying concerns about the environment.”

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