Wednesday, May 26, 2010 For more information,
Jen Powis, Sierra Club Senior Regional Representative, 832-453-4404 or Dr. Neil Carman, chemist, former state regulator, and Clean Air Program Director for the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club, 512-288-5772
EPA: Texas Fails to Protect
(Austin) -- Sierra Club today applauded the decision this week by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that it will intervene in air permits at some oil and gas refineries and some coal plants in Texas.
“The EPA action this week has been long
overdue,” said Jen Powis, Sierra Club Senior Regional Representative. “For years, hundreds of citizen complaints have fallen on deaf ears at the Texas Commisson on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). The EPA has urged, begged and pled with the Commission to adequately enforce the Clean Air Act to protect citizens. TCEQ failed to do so and continues to fail to enforce national and state laws designed to protect the air we breathe and the water we drink. This is not about EPA taking over a state agency, but about TCEQ’s failure to enforce both state and federal regulations designed to protect our health.”
Sierra Club welcomed the action as a positive first step and noted that the EPA could do more.
“This is a good step by the EPA and they can do even more to address the air quality violations and bad permits that TCEQ is refusing to handle correctly in Texas,” said Eva Hernandez, Beyond Coal Field Organizing Manager. “For example, we have a number of proposed new coal plants in
Texas that, if built, would push several new areas of the state into non-attainment of clean air standards. EPA's move this week will affect two existing Texas coal plants but we have a whole raft of proposed new coal plants that should not be built if we want to truly protect the health of Texans
and our environment.”
The Sierra Club through its Clean Air Program and Beyond Coal Campaign works on reducing air pollution emissions from oil and gas refineries, coal plants, and other sources in Texas.
Next week, attorneys for Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign will mount a legal challenge to the Tenaska coal plant permit application to TCEQ for a project proposed near Abilene that would emit over 5,000 tons annually of nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter, over 2,200 pounds annually of highly toxic lead, and over 124 pounds annually of highly toxic mercury.