Texas Clean Air Matters

Selected tag(s): permitting

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 / Also tagged , , , , , | Read 1 Response

WHY THE EPA IS LIKELY TO DISAPPROVE TCEQ’S FLEXIBLE PERMITTING PROGRAM

If you’ve been following the Texas air permitting war over the last several weeks, then you know that, at the end of this month, EPA is scheduled to render judgment on the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s (TCEQ’s) flexible permitting program.

We think disapproval is highly likely – and for several good reasons:

1. Flexible permits eliminate federal, unit-specific, pollution limits that are intended to assure that public health is protected from industrial pollution.

2. Flexible permits allow polluters to lump hundreds of pieces of polluting equipment under a single pollution limit, or cap. Because most of the equipment is not monitored, it is almost impossible to determine whether or not companies are complying with their pollution caps.

For example, when companies shift pollution among different units at a plant, they aren’t required to analyze the resulting health impacts.  Benzene emitted from a tall stack in the middle of a large industrial site has less an impact on a neighbor than benzene emitted from a tank vent just across the fence from his back yard. Read More »

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TCEQ in an uphill battle to regain lost credibility

Governor Rick Perry and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) say the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is attempting to “impose federal control over Texas” and is interested in a “blatant power grab.”

In fact, the EPA is simply making good on its warning that it would be required to intervene in Texas’ air permitting program if the TCEQ doesn’t comply with the federal Clean Air Act.  What’s more, those warnings date well back into the administration of President George W. Bush.

Still, it must have seemed to the TCEQ like they were suddenly getting it from all sides.

TCEQ’s two-weeks-from-hell in review:

  • May 25:  EPA announces it will begin issuing air permits in Texas until the TCEQ’s Air Quality Program can become federally compliant and issue permits consistent with the Clean Air Act.
  • May 26:  Texas Observer breaks story that there was an allegation of fraud against the TCEQ regarding their Fort Worth mobile air monitoring study and an internal investigation that uncovered four instances of elevated benzene levels in Fort Worth that went undisclosed to the public or city. Read More »
Posted in Ozone, TCEQ, Texas Permitting / Also tagged , , , , , | Read 8 Responses

EPA vs. TCEQ: Marston Weighs In

Get ready for a sound bite war ignited by EPA taking over from TCEQ the issuance of a permit for a Corpus Christi refinery – with the possibility to do the same at 39 other facilities across the state.

As our toxicologist Elena Craft alluded to earlier today, there’s one way that 49 other states abide by the Clean Air Act – and then there’s the Texas way (which is too often a way of NOT abiding by federal law).

For too long, Gov. Perry and TCEQ have treated the EPA and the federal health-based Clean Air Act as a nuisance they can’t be bothered with. Well, they’re bothered now, and squealing like a stuck pig.

Here’s what everyone should know when we hear the pitiful whining from these defenders of the status quo:

  • EPA’s action didn’t come out of the blue. For years they’ve been telling TCEQ to fix their air permitting program.  In response, TCEQ has thumbed its nose at EPA at the expense of the health of millions of Texans.  And now, finally, EPA is stepping up – rightfully – to enforce the law. Read More »
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