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For more information, Contact: Jen Powis, Sierra Club, 832.453.4404
Tom ‘Smitty’ Smith, Public Citizen, 512-797-8468 Ann Smith, Clean Economy Coalition, 361-774-8127
Groups Notify TCEQ Commissioners to Follow Law-Deny Las
Corpus Christi Clean Economy Coalition, Sierra Club, and Public Citizen Call On Commissioners to Follow the Law and Deny the Air Permit Requested by the Las Brisas Energy Center in Corpus Christi
(Corpus Christi) – Citizens of Corpus Christi, the Sierra Club, and Public Citizen call on Governor Perry’s Commissioners at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (“TCEQ”) to follow the law this week.
After approximately two weeks of hearings, Texas’s administrative law judges (the “Judges”) recommended to the Commissioners that the Las Brisas Energy Center’s application for an
air permit be denied.
After careful examination, the Judges found that the air permit application filed by Las Brisas failed to account for multiple sources of pollution and did not analyze the best type of technology available to provide for lower pollution in the area.
Based on these findings and others, the Judges recommended that the Commissioners deny Las Brisas’s air permit application.
The Commissioners are set to decide whether Las Brisas should receive its air permit on Wednesday, June 30, and will consider the Judges’
“Year after year, Governor Perry’s Commissioners have failed to adequately protect the public health. On June 30th, the Commissioners have an opportunity to deny Las Brisas’s air permit based on hard science and their own judges’ recommendations.” said Daniel Lucio with
the Clean Economy Coalition. “For too long, these Commissioners have ignored their public responsibility but on June 30, all of Texas will see whether these Commissioners understand their duty is first and foremost to the citizens of Texas.”
Las Brisas is a $3 billion, petroleum coke-fired proposed power plant and would be the first such plant to be built near a major metropolitan area since petroleum coke is more polluting than even a traditional coal-fired power plant.
Petroleum coke is a refinery by-product with similar characteristics as coal but is seen as an inexpensive product to blend with coal in traditional coal fired boilers. Las Brisas intends to use petroleum coke as its primary fuel source.
“The federal government has taken strong action against Governor Perry’s Commissioners lately, noting that many of the Commissioners’ rules
and regulations do not comply with the Clean Air Act.” said Jen Powis Senior Regional Representative for Sierra Club. “The June 30 decision could be seen as an example of why these federal actions were necessary unless the Commissioners follow the recommendations of their own judges and deny Las Brisas’s
The Commissioners will review the Judges’ recommendations, along with final briefing submitted by the parties in the contested case on June 30.
The Commissioners have sole authority in making this decision, but TCEQ’s Office of Public Interest Council (“OPIC”) also recommended
denying this permit.
OPIC works independently of other TCEQ offices
and strives to bring forward relevant issues from a public interest perspective so that the Commissioners may make informed decisions and issue permits that are protective of human health and the environment.
Like OPIC, the Nueces County Medical Society, the San Patricio County Medical Society, and the Aransas County Medical Society all opposed building this plant so close to the residents of Corpus Christi.
“Detrimental health effects are well known and
well documented for these types of power plants” said Corpus Christi cardiologist, Dr.
Greg Silverman a participant in the Clean Economy Coalition of Corpus Christi. “For
example, people with asthma often suffer greater and more
servere attacks because of the pollution from these power
plants. The higher sulphur negatively affects many of our
most vulnerable citizens like the very young and very old.
The mercury that gets into the fish, when ingested, means
higher rates of autism and other neurological disorders around
these plants. These are just some of the reasons why this
proposed plant should not be built.”
As this decision is made on Wednesday, the state’s Sunset Review Advisory Commission is reviewing the Agency’s functions closely in preparation for recommendations to the State Legislature which meets in January 2011.
“There is so much evidence that this permit doesn't
follow the law -- this permit should be denied,” said Tom ‘Smitty’ Smith with Public Citizen. “If
the Commissioners overrule their own hearing officers, the
executive director and OPIC by issuing this permit, it proves
how much they need to be reformed by the Sunset Commission
and the Texas Legislature . If they approve this permit we'd
recommend abolishing the commissioners and replacing them
with a rubber stamp.”