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EPA to TCEQ: Enforce the Law or We Will

The Editor's Column
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2010/5/27 14:56:04 (2083 reads)

Open in new windowOpen in new windowOpen in new windowThe big news from yesterday is that the Environmental Protection Agency stepped in and took over permitting authority for 40 air polluting facilities in Texas. The unprecedented move was a response to what the EPA says is a failure of the state's air permitting agency, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, to enforce provisions of the federal Clean Air Act. At issue is the so-called "flexible permit" rules that set an un-enforceable cap on emissions for an entire facility, while not specifying caps on individual, measurable components of the facility - thus allowing more pollution than is absolutely necessary.

Houston Chronicle has the story about the permits in question.

The Texas Observer yesterday published an article entitled "Agency of Destruction", documenting the general failures and ineffectiveness of the agency to protect the environment or take just about any enforcement action on air and water issues. I say this one is a must-read, since it bears on our local needs here in the Barnett Shale.

Of course, Governor Perry, sensing that his ability to use political appointees to protect his big campaign donors from any responsibility for their pollution, took the opportunity for more grand-standing about "states' rights". (You'll want to tuck your jeans into your boots before hitting that link.)

McBlogger, never at a loss for words, has some comments on this. I can't say that I disagree.

As a proud Texan, it frustrates me greatly to have to have the federal government step in to tell us to enforce the law. I wish that the government of our state was a closer reflection of our shared Texan values of responsibility and fairness, but unfortunately, it is not. We have systematic corruption in Texas, and this is just another symptom.

So, I support the EPA standing firm here, and I hope it will force the TCEQ to reconsider its mission, even as it heads into sunset review in the coming year. Those of us who live in the Barnett Shale want assurances that someone is watching out for our air, with the health of our citizens as its primary concern. If the EPA needs to step in on that particular mission of TCEQ, then so be it.

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