leads the nation in pollution, ranking number one
for the nation in mercury emissions, carbon dioxide
emissions, and nitrigen dioxide emissions, among
others. Power plants are all major sources for these,
and other toxic chemicals.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, September 29, 2010 CONTACT:
Allison Sliva, No Coal Coalition, President, 713.922.5639 Jen Powis, Sierra Club, Senior Regional Representative, 832.453.4404
Eva Hernandez, Sierra Club, Representative, 512.299.1550
Ryan Rittenhouse, Public Citizen, 440.796-9695
Governor Perry’s Commissioners Fail Yet Again to Protect Citizens from Air Pollution
(Austin) – Governor Perry’s Commissioners at the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality (TCEQ) granted the White Stallion Energy Center air pollution permit today, ignoring the recommendations of its own administrative law judges. Earlier today, while citizens from Matagorda County watched, Chairman Shaw and Commissioners Garcia and Rubio, criticized the recommendations from the state’s administrative law judges and decided to grant the permit with special conditions. Sierra Club once again calls on the state legislature to reform the TCEQ so that it cannot continue to ignore federal and state air quality standards during the permitting process.
“Once again, the Commissioners are doing the work
for the applicant and using this failed system to avoid public
input.” said Jen Powis, Senior Regional Representative
for Sierra Club. “Today’s
decision is another pitiful example of how Governor Perry
and his political cronies ignore federal and state law and
reward companies to pollute in Texas.”
While White Stallion Energy Center failed
to meet state requirements in its permit application, the Commissioners amended
the permit so that it could be awarded while avoiding the possibility for continued public input. The Commissioners lowered some of the emissions limits but ignored the state’s own Administrative Law Judges’ recommendations.
Originally, the Administrative Law Judges found that White Stallion:
• Relied upon unapproved ozone monitoring data,
• Failed to conduct a health effects review for coal dust, and
• Failed to determine the appropriate emission limits for the hazardous air pollutants Hydrochloric Acid (HCl) and Hydrogen Fluoride (HF).
The finding relating to ozone monitoring was of particular concern to the Houston-Galveston-Beaumont non-attainment region since White Stallion’s pollution will affect that area’s
ability to meet federal air quality standards for years to
come. As one of the largest non-attainment regions in Texas,
industries and local governments have spent millions of dollars
attempting to reduce pollution to protect citizen’s health. While some improvements have been made, the area still fails to achieve the minimum air quality standards and once built, White Stallion will most likely push the area into deeper problems.
“TCEQ is a failed agency and has failed the citizens
of Texas again.” said Allison Silva with the No Coal Coalition. “The administrative law judges didn’t like this permit, elected officials in Matagorda County and Houston have raised serious questions about it, and the citizens don’t
like it. But rather than consider these criticisms, the Commissioners
ignored these concerns and simply granted it.”
Texas has 17 operating coal-fired power plants, but also has the most proposed coal plants, of any state in the nation. With today’s ruling, the number of permitted coal plants in the state rises to 26. Texas also leads the nation in pollution, ranking number one for the nation in mercury emissions, carbon dioxide emissions, and nitrigen dioxide emissions, among others. Power plants are all major sources for these, and other toxic chemicals.
"TCEQ continues their pollution control policy of:
Don't ask, don't smell, don't tell," said Ryan Rittenhouse of Public Citizen Texas. "White
Stallion and TCEQ have bent every rule in the book in order
to make it seem like this plant meets regulatory standards.
TCEQ is ignoring the impact this plant would have on the
Houston non-attainment region, and the air monitor White
Stallion used in their modeling was 100 miles away in the
wrong direction. It is estimated that this plant would result
in the deaths of approximately 600 Matagorda County residents
over the course of its lifetime, and cost the people of that
county more than $5.4 billion in health care costs."
“Texans deserve clean and healthy air. And they
deserve a state agency that will protect it.” said Eva Hernandez, with the Sierra Club. “By ignorning on the ground reality and giving White Stallion an air permit, Governor Perry’s political appointees continue to favor the wishes of polluting industries over the health of our families. It’s
time for the state legislature to step in and fix this broken
agency during the Sunset process.”