FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Jennifer Powis, Sierra Club, 832-453-4404; Ryan Rittenhouse, Public Citizen, 440-796-9695; George Sansing, Clean Economy Coalition, (361) 442-6501
Spokespersons will be available at a Press Teleconference Call today, Wednesday, January 26 at Noon central time. Phone 1-866-501-6174 and enter code 31794011892#.
TCEQ Ignores EPA Directive to Deny Air Pollution Permit
Groups Denounce Outlaw Permitting of Las Brisas Coke-fired Power Plant
(Austin) Members of Corpus Christi’s Clean Economy Coalition, the Sierra Club, Public Citizen, and SEED Coalition today responded to the decision by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to give an illegal air pollution permit to Las Brisas LLC for a petroleum coke-fired power plant near highly-populated downtown Corpus Christi, Texas.
“The TCEQ’s unconscionable decision today
to give Las Brisas an air permit is illegal and
violates the air pollution limits of the Clean
Air Act,” said Gerald Sansing, a microbiologist with the Clean Economy Coalition of Corpus Christi. “Texans
will not stand by while the agency that is supposed
to protect our health and environment does the
opposite and would allow industrial polluters to
rain air toxins on the population. This plant must
not be built and we are looking to the EPA to take
the next step to enforce the law.”
EPA Directs TCEQ to Obey Law & Protect
Texas State Administrative Law Judges twice recommended the TCEQ Commissioners deny Las Brisas based on major flaws in the permit application that proposed the plant be allowed to emit high levels of multiple toxic substances like mercury and particulate matter. Yesterday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a letter to the TCEQ directing the Agency to deny the Las Brisas permit. However, today the three, Perry-appointed Commissioners ignored the EPA guidance.
“The TCEQ Commissioners have made a grievous error today
-- one which will haunt them for years to come,” said geologist and member of the Clean Economy Coalition, Roger Landress. “Behind this decision are Governor Perry and Attorney General Gregg Abbot and their funders – big polluters. They are ignoring a serious health threat and favoring industrial polluters over peoples' lives! They are violating federal law – the fabric of our nation. The thing is, we the people will not stand by where the Governor Perry’s
TCEQ would allow the Sparkling City by the Sea to become
the Sickening City by the Sea. No way.”
Members of Corpus Christi’s Clean Economy Coalition and Sierra Club traveled to Austin to hear the TCEQ Commissioners’ rationale at the hearing in Austin today.
Additional Obstacles to Las Brisas Permit
The Las Brisas proposal is the first pollution permit to be considered by the Commissioners since the EPA’s recent decision to manage greenhouse gas permits in the state. Rather than receive a greenhouse gas permit from TCEQ, the company must obtain a greenhouse gas permit from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency before it can begin construction.
“The illegality of today’s decision pertains to overly
high levels of air toxins in the permit proposed by Las Brisas,” said Jen Powis with Sierra Club. “In addition to that, Las Brisas LLC faces an additional administrative burden forced on it by Governor Perry’s refusal to follow federal law on another vital protection. The Governor and his leadership are refusing to follow federal law and so they now face the EPA on both counts – today’s illegal air permit and the greenhouse gas permit they have yet to request. On top of all of that, there is the time factor. Las Brisas’ financing
may recognize that this company has not done its due diligence
and pull out of a terrible situation.”
Of the 22 coal or coke-fired power plants proposed since 2005 –
• 3 have been built;
• 3 are under construction;
• 9 have been withdrawn;
• 1 is likely to be cancelled;
• 6 have been permitted, are not yet under construction and probably will never be built since coal is so much more expensive than wind or natural gas; and...
The Las Brisas plant permit remains undecided.
“The EPA stepped in to help because Perry and the
TCEQ have not been doing their job to protect citizens in
this state from coal-fired plants and industrial polluters,” said Tom “Smitty” Smith of Public Citizen. “The
Las Brisas proposal is the last of almost two dozen, coal
and, in this case, coke plants proposed in Texas since 2005.
Texas citizens have had significant success in stopping much
of the coal rush in our state.”
Texas Energy Crossroads Members of the Clean Economy Coalition, Sierra Club, Public Citizen, and SEED Coalition endorse energy efficiency and clean, renewable energy such as wind and solar power. They point to recent successes such as the wind farms now producing clean power across from the site where the Las Brisas plant would be built if allowed.
“Texas is at an energy crossroads and its time for
Governor Perry and his appointed Commissioners to wake up
and look around. This is the end of the Texas coal rush and
the end of the coal era,” said Jen Powis with Sierra Club. “For too long, TCEQ has been acting as Governor Perry’s
rubber stamp on these illegal coal plants. They have been
ignoring the recommendations of their own judges and now
they have disregarded an EPA directive. TCEQ and Las Brisas
must be made to follow the law and the EPA appears to be
stepping up to do that.”
Spokespersons will be available at a Press Teleconference Call today, Wednesday, January 26 at Noon central time. Reporters may phone 1-866-501-6174 and enter code 31794011892#.