“Fix TCEQ’s Coziness with Polluters”

Mariah Boone, Corpus Christi native, wrote to Senator Hinojosa about reforming the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.  Have you?

Dear Senator Hinojosa:

I am one of your constituents in Corpus Christi and I always vote for you. I am writing with concerns about the TCEQ which I hope you will address during the Sunset Review process.

Despite what you might hear from the Chamber of Commerce, the actual citizens of Corpus Christi continually express concern about the fact that the TCEQ is not doing a good job protecting our health and safety in Corpus Christi.

We need an agency in Texas devoted to monitoring the quality of our environment, but there need to be big changes in the way the TCEQ works. Far too often, they seem to think their mission is more about economic development than protecting public health. I hope that you will remove economic development as part of their mission and leave that important function to a different agency. The TCEQ should not be allowed to consider whether compliance with environmental regulations is economically practical for polluters – their mission to be to protect the public from polluters absolutely.

Another change that needs to be made to the TCEQ is that authority over permitting decisions must be taken away from the three-person commission of the governor’s appointees (any governor’s appointees) and made to take into account science and public health data, not just their own political leanings. Right now, no matter what SOAH judges recommend after involved hearings, no matter what the TCEQ’s own staff recommends, no matter what science says, the commissioners just do what they want – they make industry happy. This has to stop. The permitting process needs to be based on sound science – not politics. Also, a physician with expertise in public health needs to be one of the authorities in that process.

Additionally, the TCEQ must act to increase environmental justice. The poor must not be made to keep paying for progress with their lives and their children. The children of the Hillcrest and Dona Park neighborhoods in Corpus Christi have been irreparably harmed by TCEQ’s failure to act. I want no more generations to suffer as they have.

A reformed TCEQ must make polluters must pay. For all that they do. Under the present system, polluters are better off financially when they keep paying fines for non-compliance than they would be if they made the changes it would take to bring them into compliance with regulations. This does not protect the public and needs to change.

Your constituents in Corpus Christi continue to suffer cancers, birth defects and asthma due to the present practices of the TCEQ and their coziness with polluters. Please fix this agency and protect us.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Mariah Boone

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