For Immediate Release (Thursday, January 17, 2008): For More Information:
Jim Marston, Environmental Defense, 512.478.5161 or 512.289.5293 Ilan Levin, Environmental Integrity Project, 512.619.7287 Timothy Ballo, Earthjustice, 202. 667.4500 Neil Carman, Sierra Club, 512.288.5772 or 512.477.1729 Media Contact: Chris Smith, Environmental
Defense, 512.691.3451-w or 512.659.9264-c or
Environmentalists Challenge State’s
to Clean Air Act’s Permitting Program
(Austin – January 17, 2008) The state of Texas violates the Clean Air Act and its own State Implementation Plan through repeated weak permitting decisions concerning new coal plants and other large polluting facilities, according to a petition filed today with the Environmental Protection Agency.
Earthjustice and Environmental Integrity Project filed the petition on behalf of Environmental Defense and Sierra Club, citing seven ways that Texas routinely administers the Clean Air Act illegally.
“The state fails to comply with legal requirements intended to protect the health and welfare of its citizens, when other states are doing their fair share,” said Jim Marston, attorney with Environmental Defense. “Federal law doesn’t allow Texas to be the lone ranger and ignore the law.”
The petitioners request that the EPA use its authority to impose one or more of the following sanctions: prohibit construction of new stationary sources, such as large power plants or refineries; withhold highways funds; or implement reduction of offsets from other pollution sources in the state.
“Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s air program has been acting illegally by issuing permits for new coal plants that allow unsafe levels of pollution,” said Neil Carman with the Sierra Club’s Lone Star Chapter. “The state’s permits are effectively sabotaging efforts to reduce smog-forming pollution.”
“In Texas, we’ve got a state environmental agency more interested in serving industry than in enforcing our pollution laws,” said Environmental Integrity Project senior attorney Ilan Levin, representing Sierra Club, “This is a state renowned for lax environmental enforcement, issuing weak permits, and basically thumbing its nose at federal law, so we’re asking EPA to do its job.”
“Texas has a responsibility to protect its citizens, not the profits of these polluters,” said Earthjustice attorney Tim Ballo. “Where this state has failed to follow the law, we now turn to the EPA to do the right thing and limit air pollution for all Texans.”