Some things haven’t changed since the elections.
Texans still want clean air and water. We still want polluters to be held accountable for their actions. And…
We want the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to protect us and our communities by enforcing environmental laws in our state.
- Tonight Arlington and San Antonio residents will tell their stories about environmental degradation in their communities.
- Soon the Sunset Advisory Commission staff report on the TCEQ is due.
- And on December 15, the Sunset Commission will hold its public hearing on recommendations for changes and reforms at TCEQ.
Together with local residents’ groups and our partners in the Alliance for a Clean Texas, Sierra Club is co-hosting a series of almost a dozen TCEQ Sunset Town Hall meetings across the state. So far, almost a thousand Texans have organized or shown up to speak at five Sunset Town Hall meetings in Houston, Victoria, Corpus Christi, El Paso, and Beaumont. There are six more Town Hall meetings – starting tonight with Arlington and San Antonio (Nov. 8). Next week there will be Town Halls in Austin (Nov. 17), Abilene (Nov. 18), and Lubbock (Nov. 19), and a final Town Hall in Nacogdoches (Nov. 30).
State Senators and Representatives, including Senator Hegar, the Chair of the Sunset Review Commission (report) and Representative Allan Ritter, the Chair of the House Naural Resources Committee (video) attended the meetings in their districts. They’ve heard hundreds of Texans describe the problems that lax or no regulation by TCEQ and the Rail Road Commission (also under Sunset review) have meant in their communities — heavy air pollution from coal plants, new coal plants being permitted despite the wisdom of state judges, ground and surface water contamination and air pollution from oil, gas, and chemical industry activity.
There’s been a message echoed in these Town Hall meetings — TCEQ is allowing environmental degradation and threats to public health, and our state environmental agency can do better. At the Corpus Christi Town Hall meeting Melissa Jarrell an Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at Texas A & M University said that in Texas we allow the offender to self-report data, inspections are rare, fines are minimal…there’s no deterrent effect.’ And in Beaumont, the Town Hall moderator Criminal District Court Judge John Stevens Jr. quipped after hearing some of the stories “No wonder they wanted a criminal judge to do this!”
At the Beaumont meeting, Representative Ritter brought up another underlying concern — global warming.
Ken Kramer, Director of the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club —
Texas families and individuals deserve clean air and water. It’s the law. And we want TCEQ to enforce the law vigorously. These Town Hall meetings demonstrate that Texans want the Sunset Commission to prepare a blueprint for making significant reforms at TCEQ.