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Posts Tagged ‘Sunset’

Texans living around the Victoria region attended a town hall in September to express their concerns about the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) on a number of different issues, including the proposed White Stallion coal plant in Bay City. On the panel were Sunset Commission Chairman Sen. Glenn Hegar, former TCEQ commissioner Larry Soward, the regional administrator of TCEQ for that area, and a lawyer with Blackburn & Carter who often take on environmental cases.

This town hall was one of a series of events held to provide the people of Texas a way in which to voice their concerns to TCEQ. The official Sunset Commission hearing on TCEQ is scheduled for December 15th in Austin. For more video footage of these town halls check our archives and stay tuned to TexasVOX. For more information on the ongoing Sunset review of TCEQ check out Alliance for a Clean Texas.

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By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We arePublic Citizen Texas.

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The list of TCEQ Sunset town halls continues to grow with the addition of a town halls in Nacogdoches the week after Thanksgiving.  The Nacogdoches town hall will take place Tuesday, November 30th from from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Parks and Recreation Center.

All are invited to attend these town halls to learn about the current TCEQ Sunset review, and to voice their recommendations for changes that will improve TCEQ. State representatives and senators from the Nacogdoches region have been invited to attend; these town halls provide an excellent opportunity for lawmakers to learn more about TCEQ’s impact in their community.

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The list of TCEQ Sunset town halls continues to grow with the addition of town halls in Abilene, Austin and Lubbock the week before Thanksgiving.  The Abilene town hall will take place Thursday, November 18th from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Unity Church of Christianity.

All are invited to attend these town halls to learn about the current TCEQ Sunset review, and to voice their recommendations for changes that will improve TCEQ. State representatives and senators from the Abilene region have been invited to attend; these town halls provide an excellent opportunity for lawmakers to learn more about TCEQ’s impact in their community.

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By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.

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Citizens and environmental groups concerned about possible air and water pollution from the Barnett Shale spoke out last night in Arlington.  Nearly 140 people gathered to express concerns about the Texas Commission on Environment Quality (TCEQ) and the Railroad Commission (RRC).

Rita Beving, with Public citizen, says both face the Sunset Advisory Commission next month to see if they should change, or even continue to exist.  She went on to say “Our state has failed in many ways to respond to the public. That’s why the EPA has stepped in to pull authority away from the TCEQ.  Some of the people we’ve talked to have had horrible experiences including having their tap water catch fire.” (more…)

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Background: What the controversy is all about
On May 25, 2010, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) barred the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) from issuing a permit to a refinery in Corpus Christi. EPA said that the process used to justify that permit violated the Clean Air Act.  EPA’s Region 6 Administrator, Al Armendariz, also stated that the EPA would block future permits and force polluters to comply with EPA standards if the TCEQ did not change its rules. On June 14th, EPA announced it was taking over the process for two additional air-quality permits

At issue are two types of air permits used in Texas – one known as a “flex permit” and one known as a “plant-wide applicability limit.” In both cases, instead of issuing permits that limit pollution from each individual point-source (e.g. a smokestack), TCEQ limits pollution for entire facilities, allowing operators to emit more pollution from one stack if another stack was emitting less. Studies indicate that there would be greater emission reductions if limits were done on a stack-by-stack basis.

These permits make enforcement extremely difficult at vast petrochemical and refining facilities. They also fail to protect people from emission clouds that can occur as a result of letting one stack emit more than would be allowed under the Clean Air Act.

Suppressed reports add fuel to the fire
The flex permit controversy had been brewing for some time as EPA and TCEQ battled behind closed doors, secretly playing a game of chicken with air pollution regulations. Meanwhile, another controversy was broiling beneath the surface in Fort Worth.  Elected officials from the area felt they were getting the run-around from TCEQ when they asked whether natural gas drilling and processing on the Barnett Shale was putting residents’ health at risk.

On June 1st, TCEQ admitted they had failed to divulge (i.e. suppressed) reports showing elevated benzene levels in the area.  In a statement, Mark Vickery said TCEQ “missed an opportunity” to “bolster their confidence in the quality of the air.” In reality, TCEQ knowingly presented inaccurate air-quality information to leaders and decision makers for months. Soon after, TCEQ admitted that 3 additional air-quality reports had not been made public. (more…)

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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…)

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In 1977, the Texas Legislature created the Sunset Advisory Commission to identify and eliminate waste, duplication, and inefficiency in government agencies. The 12-member Commission is a legislative body that reviews the policies and programs of more than 150 government agencies every 12 years. The Commission questions the need for each agency, looks for potential duplication of other public services or programs, and considers new and innovative changes to improve each agency’s operations and activities. The Commission seeks public input through hearings on every agency under Sunset review and recommends actions on each agency to the full Legislature. In most cases, agencies under Sunset review are automatically abolished unless legislation is enacted to continue them.

The Commission holds public hearings on each agency under review. These hearings offer the public an opportunity to testify about an agency and comment on the Sunset staff’s recommendations. Witness affirmation forms are available at the meeting if you would like to testify before the Commission Public hearings are webcast and archives are available. (more…)

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