Posts Tagged ‘sunset commission’

Far from the madding crowd

It’s well after 10pm and the crowd at the Sunset Advisory Commission hearing has dwindled, including the commisioners.  Of the 12 commissioners, I’m only seeing five still on the dias and as the camera periodically pans the audience, one can see that it has thinned considerably since this morning. 

Here at Armadillo Christmas Bazaar Jimmy LaFavre is winding down his final set, and so am I.  Look for updates from folks who were at the hearing (and could actually hear the testimony) tomorrow. 

The Commission will announce their decisions on January 11, 2011, the first day of the Texas 82nd legislature.  We will see then what they do with all the input they have received from agency staff, industry, ordinary citizens and the environmental community.

Read Full Post »

The TCEQ granted a permit to re-open the ASARCO foundry over protests of staff, residents of El Paso, and local leaders. Luckily, the EPA intervened and stopped it.

You’ve probably heard by now.  The TCEQ has failed to adhere to the federal Clean Air Act, jeopardizing our health, our safety, and the quality of our air. This is why, on Tuesday, May 25, the EPA took over the TCEQ’s authority to grant clean air permits for 40 facilities across the state of Texas, most notably the Flint Hills Resources’ crude oil refinery near Corpus Christi.

The TCEQ has failed to fulfill its promises to the federal government and the citizens of Texas, whom it is supposed to protect.

The Sunset Advisory Commission is a 12-member body appointed by the Lieutenant Governor and the speaker of the house to identify and eliminate waste, duplication, and inefficiency in government agencies. Every 12 years, over 150 government agencies are reviewed for potential changes and improvements in their responsibilities and operations. And since the review of Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the TCEQ, is quickly approaching, we’re getting organized!  Will you join us for a call next Thursday, June 10th at 6pm CT?

From the Alliance for Clean Texas:

The Alliance for a Clean Texas (ACT) will launch its 2010-2011 TCEQ sunset campaign with a conference call next Thursday, June 10th at 6:30 p.m. All Texans committed to protecting our state’s environment and health are invited to participate in the call.

ACT is a coalition of organizations and individuals around the state working together to make this a milestone year for environmental protection in Texas. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) is currently under review by the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission. Now is the time to turn our concerns about how TCEQ does and does not do its job of protecting our environment and our health into real, lasting reform.

In the last week, TCEQ has been at the center of two major stories about the Texas environment. The EPA has finally taken action to bring TCEQ air permitting back into compliance with the federal Clean Air Act–a move opposed by the TCEQ commissioners. And Fort Worth is reeling with the news that (more…)

Read Full Post »

Cap Metro’s hearing at the Sunset Advisory Commission on Tuesday wasn’t the public flogging many might have expected, given the mass transit authority’s myriad problems over the past several years. It came as a shock to no one as Sunset staff delivered testimony that centered on the financial crisis the transit authority faces. Several commissioners, however, none of whom represent Austin, were surprisingly engaged and cognizant of recent reforms at Cap Metro and gave them credit for their responsiveness to the Sunset Commission’s Staff Report which recommended several changes ranging from financial management to labor contracts to rail safety.

For those who have not followed the story from the beginning (include me in that), Cap Metro’s Sunset review began with the passage last session of Sen. Kirk Watson’s (D-Austin) SB 2015. The bill was co-sponsored by Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin). In addition to calling for the review “as if the authority were scheduled to be abolished”, it changed the structure of the Cap Metro board and called for another review in 2016. (more…)

Read Full Post »

After Week in Review‘s SXSW hiatus, our weekly blog update is back in action, keeping you posted on Public Citizen’s energy advocacy work. (more…)

Read Full Post »

The dramatic irony of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) decision this morning to grant the NRG Limestone Coal Plant an air permit (and therefore permission to begin construction on a third smokestack) is painful.  At the very moment that leaders from around the world are meeting to come to an international agreement to save the world from catastrophic global warming, at the very moment that residents of developing nations are begging for the continued existence of their land and way of life, Texas gives the green light to build another mercury-spewing, asthma-inducing, planet choking coal plant.

Not exactly what I was hoping to wake up to this morning.

This decision also comes just days after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) came out with its engangerment finding, which says that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases represent a significant threat to public health and welfare.  Earlier this year, the EPA also ruled that TCEQ has not been adhering to the Clean Air Act in its issuance of new air permits.  This is the first coal plant permit that TCEQ has issued since that warning (which TCEQ doesn’t seem to have taken to heart).  AND, according to Karen Hadden, executive director of SEED Coalition,

The TCEQ is not following federal law (Maximum Achievable Control Technology or MACT) in issuing this permit and a result, mercury emissions will be higher.

So many hearts to break, so little time. But of course there’s always a silver lining. Next legislative session, the TCEQ (and a whole host of other commissions) will undergo the Sunset Review process — and as Tom “Smitty” Smith, director of Public Citizen’s Texas Office mentions, that gives Texas a chance to reform the TCEQ permitting process:

This is just another example of why the Sunset Commission should take a good hard look at how TCEQ rubber stamps permits for coal plants in Texas.

In the meantime, keep your fingers crossed for progress in Copenhagen, and stay tuned at Texas Vox for more information on how you can help fight global warming and a 2nd Texas coal rush.

Full breakdown of the good (NRG has agreed to offset 50% of their emissions, though there’s nothing in their permit to hold them to that), the bad, and the ugly after the jump:


Read Full Post »