Kids Play in Water: Make it Safe Statement of Ken Kramer, Director, Lone Star Chapter, Sierra Club on Proposed Revisions to Water Quality Standards on the TCEQ Agenda for June 30, 2010 June 25, 2010
Tuesday, June 29, 2010 CONTACT:Lize Burr, ACT, 512-619-7076,
Ken Kramer, Sierra Club, 512-626-4204, Tom ‘Smitty’ Smith, Public Citizen, 512-797-8468, Bee Moorhead, Texas Impact, 512-636-3135
Press Conference --10:00 AM CST, Lt. Gov.’s Press Rm. 2E9, Texas State Capitol, Austin
Press Teleconference -- 11:30 AM CST, Phone: 1-866-501-6174, Enter code: 1001900#
Public Health & Environmental Groups Call on the Three Commissioners of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to Protect Texans’ Health & Follow the Law
(Austin) Physicians for Social Responsibility,
Sierra Club and several other groups in the Alliance
for a Clean Texas (ACT) called on the three, Commissioners
of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ)
to protect the public health and environment, maintain
protective, water quality standards in Texas and adhere
to the law of the federal Clean Air Act. They held a
press conference at the State Capitol in advance of the
Commissioners’ scheduled decision on two key environmental
“Texans health is at risk because the TCEQ has
been more concerned about protecting polluters' profit
than protecting people," said Tom ‘Smitty’ Smith
of Public Citizen. “Two
issues that the TCEQ Commissioners will decide on Wednesday
will show their true colors. While the Sunset Review process
will allow us the opportunity to fix many of the flaws
in the law, that process won't be able to address bad
decisions that could be made tomorrow and would affect
generations to come. We're asking the TCEQ Commissioners
to do the right thing now, protect our health, and keep
it safe to live, work, and play in Texas."
Proposed Weakening of Recreational Water Quality Standards
The TCEQ Commissioners will consider a staff recommendation
to change the Agency’s bacteria pollution standards including allowing higher levels of e-coli to be considered ‘safe’ in
Texas recreational lakes, rivers, and streams.
“The Sierra Club strongly urges the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) Commissioners to reject the proposed revisions to the state’s
bacteria pollution criteria that are being recommended
by the agency staff,” said Ken Kramer, Director of the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club. “The TCEQ Commissioners should heed the public outcry over the proposed weakening of protections from bacteria pollution for the state’s streams and lakes and take a stand for public health protection over polluter interests. The fact is that there is no compelling reason to make any changes to the bacteria pollution criteria at this time – indeed
there is every reason not to do so.”
Beside numerous other citizens, Sierra Club and Clean Water Action members and participants recently communicated opposition to the water quality changes in thousands of letters asking the TCEQ Commissioners to vote against weakening the standard.
First Air Pollution Test Case Following EPA Intervention
The Commissioners on Wednesday will also consider [1:00 PM] the recommendations of two Administrative Law Judges to deny an air pollution permit application by Las Brisas Energy Center for a petroleum coke-fired power plant proposed for near downtown Corpus Christi.
If built, the plant would emit more pollution than all of the existing refineries in Corpus Christi combined.
Medical societies from four Coastal Bend counties – Nueces,
San Patricio, Aransas, and Refugio, concerned about the
huge amount of additional pollution in an area that already
has higher rates of asthma than other areas of the state,
opposed the permit and participated in the contested case
hearing against Las Brisas.
Other medical professionals, including members of Austin Physicians for Social Responsibility and the Houston-based group, Health Professionals for Clean Air are urging the three TCEQ Commissioners to stop permitting coal or petroleum coke-fired power plants in Texas.
“As a physician, I am gravely concerned about the
proposal to build even one more coal plant in our state.
Many others in the medical community share this concern
because they know the impact of coal on our fellow Texans
and our own families,” said Dr. Lisa Doggett with Austin Physicians for Social Responsibility. “Coal
is linked to four of the top five leading causes of death
in our state including heart disease and cancer. Air pollution
from burning coal leads to tens of thousands of deaths
and millions of lost work days each year. The Las Brisas
plant, in particular, is a risky proposition given its planned
location in an urban area, where more people are likely to
be affected by the toxins that would spew from its smoke
stacks if allowed to be built.”
The expected decision on the Las Brisas permit this Wednesday will be the first highly visible test of the Commissioners following the intervention this past Spring by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency which found that the TCEQ was failing to enforce the Clean Air Act.
Simultaneous to the decisions scheduled at TCEQ on Wednesday,
the State’s Sunset Review Advisory Commission is currently
examining the functions of the TCEQ and will make recommendations
to the Texas State Legislature which will meet next January
through May, 2011.
"The people of Texas invest TCEQ with an awesome
and sacred responsibility,” said Bee Moorhead with Texas Impact. “With control over the air we breathe, the water we drink and the land we live on, they are the stewards of our collective future,” It is their responsibility to safeguard the lives of 24 million Texans today as well as the lives of our children and grandchildren to come. Invoking the ancient wisdom that ‘the safety of the people is the supreme law,' we urge the Commission—in its important decisions this week and in all its actions—simply
to do what is best for Texas."
ACT Partner Organizations, 2010-2011http://www.acttexas.org
Air Alliance Houston • Baptist Christian Life Commission • Caddo Lake Institute • Clean Water Action • Environmental Defense Fund • Environmental Integrity Project • Environment Texas • Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance • Hill Country Alliance • National Wildlife Federation • Public Citizen • Re-energize Texas • SEED
Coalition • Sierra
Club• Texas Campaign for the Environment • Texas Center for Policy Studies • Texas Impact • Texas
League of Conservation Voters