Groups Call For Reduction in Air Pollution

"Statement of Principles on Grandfathered Air Pollution" Released"

(Austin)—An informal coalition of civic, consumer, environmental, public health, and other public interest groups today issued a joint call for action to reduce air pollution in Texas from dirty old industrial plants known as "grandfathered" plants. The wide-ranging set of organizations released a joint "Statement of Principles on Grandfathered Air Pollution."

According to Pete Altman of the Sustainable Energy & Economic Development (SEED) Coalition, one of the groups signing on to the statement: "In Texas, industrial sources of air pollution pour 2,500,000 tons of air pollution into our skies every year. The emissions contribute to smog, haze, acid rain and global warming. Many of the pollutants end up in our waterways, too, with potential affects on drinking water and recreational activities."

"More than a third of this air pollution," continued Altman, "is emitted through a loophole that exempts the biggest polluters from the most protective parts of our state clean air act. That’s as much air pollution as would be emitted by nearly 20 million cars! These grandfathered plants are not required to use modern pollution controls or evaluate their impact on public health, and they have never been through a public participation process." Sue Barham, LWV-TX, said, "The League supports proposals that would require companies to obtain permits for grandfathered facilities by 2001, 30 years after the enactment of the Texas Clean Air Act."

"We anticipate that proposed measures in response to grandfathered air pollution will be announced shortly by elected public officials in Texas," said Ken Kramer of the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club, another member of the informal coalition. "We felt that it was important to join together in a statement of principles for addressing the grandfathered air pollution problem so that the people of Texas would have a ‘benchmark’ for evaluating the strength of the proposals expected to be unveiled. Texans deserve a REAL program for reducing air pollution and human health impacts from dirty old industrial plants, not a set of promises about voluntary actions which never actually produce results."

The statement of principles on grandfathered air pollution that was agreed to by the organizations is as follows:

1. The "grandfather" loophole should be closed by January 1, 2001.

2. Incentives should be made available to companies to reduce grandfathered emissions prior to January 1, 2001.

3. Grandfathered facilities coming into the permitting process should use the Best Available Control Technology (BACT), subject to economic and technical practicability, to achieve significant and measurable reductions in emissions of air pollution.

4. The volume discount (cap on emissions fees) should be ended and the increase in revenues should be used for pollution prevention including:

5. The permitting process for grandfathered plants must include:

Joining in the release of this statement of principles, Edward Carter, President and CEO of the American Lung Association of Texas, said: "It is vital to lung health that grandfathered plants clean up their act and comply with clean air laws by 2001." Kramer of the Sierra Club added that "grandfathered plants have enjoyed the economic benefits of this loophole while Texans have endured the pollution from it for almost three decades since the passage of the Texas Clean Air in 1971. It is time to end this assault on the public health and environment of our state."

In joining in support of the statement of principles, the groups emphasized that closing the grandfathered loophole should not be used as a way to give one industry with several grandfathered plants, the electric utility industry, a special benefit, however. "We support closing the loophole, including offering permit-based incentives for early compliance," said Reggie James of Consumers Union. "However, we do not support giving special treatment to electric utilities by including all compliance costs in so-called stranded cost recovery. That's an unfair competitive advantage." (The grandfathered air pollution issue with regard to power plants is an issue being discussed as part of electric power restructuring as well as part of air quality proposals covering all industries.)

A selected set of groups supporting the joint statement of principles on grandfathered air pollution is attached.

Supporters of the Principles on Grandfathered Air Pollution

American Lung Association of Texas

Audubon Council of Texas

Consumers Union - Southwest Regional Office

Environmental Defense Fund

Galveston-Houston Association for Smog Prevention (GHASP)

Grandparents of East Harris County

Gray Panthers

League of Women Voters of Texas

Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club

Protect All Children’s Environment

Public Citizen of Texas

Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition

Texas Campaign for the Environment

Texas Center for Policy Studies