You CAN teach an old dog new tricks . . .

Las Brisas Energy Center, a proposed pet coke power plant, is still in the midst of a protracted permitting process which most recently has taken the form of a state hearing. Opponents have claimed that projected pollution from the proposed plant has been under-estimated by engineers. Testimony ended in the hearing last Thursday, and closing statements have been ordered by January 22. At this time, the two judges, Craig Bennett and Tommy Broyles, will have 60 days to issue a recommendation to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), which will ultimately make the final decision. The hearing ended with testimony from Joseph Kupper, an engineer, who was not able to confirm his calculations concerning the particulate matter projected to come from the plant.

Las Brisas might be seen as one battle in the conflict which has been escalating between the EPA and the current Texas air permitting program.

Dr Al Armendariz was scheduled to give testimony in this hearing on November 6th; however, he did not appear due to his recent appointment as Regional EPA Administrator. Dr Armendariz was appointed by Lisa Jackson just the day before. He most recently was a faculty member at Southern Methodist University in the Environmental/Civil Engineering department and has been an outspoken critic of past EPA oversight in Texas.

Dr Al Armendariz

Now, as concerned citizens, Dr Armendariz claims we should worry that “Texas has allowed big utilities and industry to operate any way they want to for decades.” We hope for the best as Dr Armendariz takes on this job with the EPA, which he is already getting on with – some say that by the end of the month the EPA will most likely “declare that Texas’ air permitting program lacks adequate public participation and transparency.”

The EPA sees three areas in which Texas fails to meet standards:

1) Public participation and transparency, which do not adhere to Clean Air Act regulations.

2) Flexible air permits given to many industrial operations (including the Fayette power plant).

3) Greenhouse gas emissions, recently brought into regulation under the Clean Air Act.

So best of luck, Dr Armendariz. If we let the numbers, facts and models speak for themselves, Texas could certainly be a cleaner place for all.

J Baker


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