A Washington, D.C.-based environmental advocacy group sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday, arguing the federal government isn’t properly policing air pollution permits the state of Texas issued to some of the largest industrial facilities in the U.S.
The Environmental Integrity Project - founded by former EPA officials - alleges that permits the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) issued to mega-plants across the Houston, Dallas and East Texas regions are illegal because the limits set on their emissions are too high, allowing them to spew too much pollution into the air.
The suit, filed in federal court, also claims the permits are so vague and complicated that TCEQ employees aren’t always sure if a plant is in violation, and therefore fail to adequately punish bad actors.
The Texas Tribune explored that low penalty rate in a recent investigation, finding that the TCEQ has so far fined fewer than 1 percent of the 3,723 emissions events that occurred in 2016.
“EPA knows that Texas issues unenforceable permits with illegal loopholes that render useless some of the most basic pollution control requirements of federal and state law,” said Gabriel Clark-Leach, a lawyer for the Environmental Integrity Project, which says it filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Texas environmental groups Air Alliance Houston, Sierra Club and TEJAS (Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services).
You can read the rest @
I worked for TCEQ in a former life. I have seen some of these permits. They are in fact EXTREMELY complicated.
But these are extremely complicated plants, and as I understand it the law allows them to operate under their existing permits until changes are made which would trigger implementation of newer federal and state laws.
In my opinion, the amount of toxins spewed into the air, buried in the ground, and dumped into the water in Texas is an affront to nature and a dire threat to all life on this planet. But laws alone will not fix the problem.
As long as we continue to extract "wealth" from the earth, there will be waste dumped into the environment. Only a complete change in our way of life is going to make a difference. The earth cannot heal if we continue to act like a cancer.