NEW REPORT: 87% OF GRANDFATHERED PLANTS NOT SIGNED UP FOR EMISSIONS REDUCTIONS UNDER BUSH “VOLUNTARY PLAN”

House Passes Provisions to Require Pollution Cleanup and Close the Grandfather Loophole, Governor and SB 766 Sponsors to fight the Measures in Conference Committee

Most grandfathered industrial plants are not going for a voluntary program promoted by Governor George W. Bush and industry, despite the intense public pressure and efforts by Governor Bush to find volunteers, according to TNRCC data analyzed by the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition. According to the data, just 12.5% of the 828 plants with grandfathered emissions have pledged to participate in the Governor’s program, which started November of 1997. The participation rate in areas that fail or are expected to soon  national safe air standards is slightly higher, with 18% of the grandfathered plants in such areas agreeing to reduce pollution under the voluntary guidelines.

Grandfathered plants have been exempted from the state’s permitting process since it was established in 1971. These plants emit at higher rates and often higher volumes than their modern counterparts and have never been evaluated for their effect on surrounding neighborhoods.

“The Texas House just amended the Governor’s weak voluntary pollution plan with provisions that will close the loophole and rid Texas of this dirty problem, but voluntary plan backers and the Governor have pledged to strip out these clean air amendments in conference committee,” said Peter Altman, director of the SEED Coalition. “The Governor has an opportunity to do the right thing for Texans but he seems determined to throw it away by backing a program that has only persuaded 12% of the plants to join”.

SEED found that the voluntary program has failed most in areas of Texas with the worst air pollution problems. “Fewer than twenty percent of grandfathered plants in areas that fail national safe air standards or are expected to fail them have volunteered to reduce emissions. Many grandfathered plants are near schools and neighborhoods and are refusing to reduce emissions. Governor Bush doesn’t seem to have much compassion for the people who are stuck near these plants. If Bush succeeds in pushing a voluntary program most counties with this air pollution problem won’t see any relief from bad air quality.
The Texas House of Representatives passed SB 766 late Tuesday night with several amendments supported by environmental and consumer groups. The bill, known as the Governor’s Voluntary bill on Grandfathering, already passed the Senate in April as a purely voluntary program designed to encourage companies to reduce grandfathered emission. The House transformed SB 766 to require clean up instead of just encouraging it by adding amendments that close the grandfather air pollution loophole by 2003 and require strict pollution controls, as well as other clean air measures.

Representative Ray Allen accepted the amendments because they had widespread support and Allen did not want to risk an extended debate with deadline for passing bills fast approaching. The bill will go to a conference committee to reconcile the House version with the Senate, which was passed without any language that required pollution reductions. . However, Allen and Governor Bush’s aide Terral Smith told the press they would try to remove the amendments.

“We know that grandfathering is a statewide concern because the 828 exempted older industry sites are located in 163 counties (64% of Texas counties), but it’s the most serious for public health in the smog-riddled eastern airshed (I-35 corridor on east) with over 500 grandfathered plants polluting the regional area of 88 Texas Clean Air Strategy counties,” stated Dr. Neil Carman, clean air director for the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club. “We can not clean up the rising ozone levels in eastern cities like Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Austin, or Longview without requiring big reductions from grandfathered smoke stacks” Carman added.

The amendments that require pollution reductions and otherwise strengthen SB 766
• establish a "date certain" for closing the grandfather loophole by 9/1/2001;
• require current Best Available Control Technology on plants,
• require clean-up within two miles of schools, nursing homes and day care centers;
• require “environmental mitigation” projects to clean up the local airshed;
• end the volume discount on fees paid by polluters.

The conference committee is expected to be appointed by Thursday, May 27, 1999. They will have until Saturday to work out the differences in the bills and distribute the reports. Both houses would have to vote on the committee’s version no later than Sunday at midnight.

Proponents of a voluntary program argue that the program has not really begun and it is too early to judge. “The voluntary program has been open since November of 1997 and the Bush people have been struggling to get polluters to join, but it just isn’t working. Most grandfathered plants aren’t cleaning up by themselves and even if those who promise to clean up make good it will only reduce grandfathered pollution by 11%, compared to a 50% reduction which would result from simply closing the loophole,” said Altman. “Twelve and a half participation rate shows  a program that has failed to work after a year and a half and a lot of nice asking by the Governor”.

Grandfathered Plants by County

TEXAS Total Tons GF Sites
COUNTY Grandfathered County
ANDERSON 202 1
ANDREWS 4229 4
ANGELINA 2940 4
ARANSAS 24692 2
ARMSTRONG 92 1
ATASCOSA 1329 2
AUSTIN 465 2
BAILEY 513 1
BANDERA 951 1
BASTROP 2564 1
BEE 192 2
BELL 15 1
BEXAR 6316 8
BORDEN 135 1
BOWIE 62 1
BRAZORIA 10734 15
BRAZOS 1312 2
BROOKS 1702 3
BROWN 892 1
CALDWELL 1181 1
CALHOUN 8734 5
CAMERON 1825 3
CARSON 3017 16
CASS 911 2
CHAMBERS 8724 19
CHEROKEE 2635 1
CLAY 237 2
COCHRAN 344 2
COKE 2525 3
COLLIN 335 2
COLLINGSWORTH 54 1
COLORADO 925 1
COOKE 41 1
CRANE 11656 7
CROCKETT 3695 9
CULBERSON 129 2
DALLAS 10237 30
DE WITT 375 1
DEAF SMITH 425 2
DENTON 556 3
DUVAL 432 3
EASTLAND 69 1
ECTOR 7575 12
EL PASO 4921 9
ELLIS 1036 4
FANNIN 3741 1
FISHER 621 1
FORT BEND 4272 17
FRANKLIN 2351 1
FREESTONE 95818 2
GAINES 1480 5
GALVESTON 13880 11
GLASSCOCK 159 1
GOLIAD 178 1
GONZALES 15 1
GRAY 56217 10
GRAYSON 561 1
GREGG 2890 6
HALE 107 1
HANSFORD 7636 7
HARDEMAN 318 2
HARDIN 1449 6
HARRIS 47970 98
HARRISON 6888 5
HARTLEY 46 1
HASKELL 275 1
HEMPHILL 484 6
HENDERSON 831 3
HIDALGO 1659 4
HOCKLEY 3460 3
HOOD 6537 1
HOPKINS 2668 1
HOWARD 3232 6
HUDSPETH 235 1
HUNT 31 1
HUTCHINSON 1275 9
IRION 424 1
JACK 197 6
JACKSON 3830 5
JASPER 3811 3
JEFFERSON 52823 35
JIM HOGG 97 1
JIM WELLS 3193 3
JOHNSON 235 2
JONES 1494 1
KARNES 616 3
KENDALL 87 1
KENEDY 1114 4
KIMBLE 1 1
KLEBERG 5619 3
LAMAR 116 2
LAMB 1517 4
LAVACA 2130 1
LEE 209 1
LIBERTY 771 7
LIMESTONE 114 1
LIPSCOMB 375 2
LLANO 1039 1
LUBBOCK 3962 4
MARION 2500 1
MARTIN 874 3
MATAGORDA 1751 7
MCLENNAN 13258 3
MCMULLEN 3045 1
MIDLAND 7132 14
MILAM 104108 1
MITCHELL 7489 1
MONTAGUE 17 1
MONTGOMERY 7874 12
MOORE 14398 31
MORRIS 910 1
NACOGDOCHES 321 2
NAVARRO 185 2
NOLAN 228 3
NUECES 20534 17
OCHILTREE 1778 3
ORANGE 10943 14
PALO PINTO 2551 3
PANOLA 4297 4
PARKER 1441 3
PECOS 12155 16
POLK 3406 4
POTTER 4576 7
RANDALL 377 3
REAGAN 6200 5
REEVES 3284 4
REFUGIO 3414 9
ROBERTS 230 1
ROBERTSON 142 2
RUNNELS 22 1
RUSK 563 2
SABINE 342 2
SAN PATRICIO 4840 6
SCHLEICHER 899 2
SCURRY 2703 3
SHACKLEFORD 18 1
SHELBY 293 2
SHERMAN 2160 7
SMITH 1330 4
STARR 2507 3
STEPHENS 129 1
SUTTON 1235 2
TARRANT 6198 23
TERRELL 8147 1
TITUS 86755 1
TOM GREEN 876 1
TRAVIS 1841 4
UPTON 3093 8
VAN ZANDT 11623 4
VICTORIA 3658 6
WALKER 8367 1
WALLER 2142 8
WARD 12715 9
WEBB 355 4
WHARTON 1579 7
WHEELER 55 1
WICHITA 532 4
WILLIAMSON 1 1
WINKLER 5941 10
WISE 1807 12
WOOD 2618 3
YOAKUM 1067 1
YOUNG 4865 4
TOTAL = 903681 828