This week, Las Brisas goes to trial. Whether the results of the trial will matter to the TCEQ commissioners, however, we’re not so sure… Check out this video of the commissioners committing to fast-tracking the permit.
So this week, we’re going to continue to appeal to the EPA’s Enforcement offices (Ms. Gina McCarthy). Last time, we made over 200 points of contact- phone calls, emails, and petition signatures.
This is an important office to pressure- after all, we’re asking them to enforce the law.
Email email@example.com, and, as always, be polite!
Here are some key points to make:
-Chairman Shaw of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has publicly stated that he’s committed to helping industry avoid regulations that go into effect next year by working hard to grant Las Brisas its permit before the end of the year.
-For too long, EPA has allowed the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to avoid implementing the Clean Air Act in Texas. The citizens of the rest of the nation are guaranteed these minimum health safety standards, and we cannot continue to let Texas avoid them.
-The time is now. TCEQ is working to fast track permit applications. Please don’t let them ruin my health, and Texas’s air quality for 40 or 50 years to come. Instead, step in and make them follow the law now.
Happy writing! And I’m always available for questions/concerns.
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.
LULAC Council #1 writes to the office of EPA enforcement, urging them to step in on Las Brisas’ air permit due to the inconsistencies between the TCEQ’s permitting policies and the Clean Air Act.
Dear Ms. Gina McCarthy,
As the founding council of the oldest and largest Latino civil and human rights organization in the nation, The League of United Latin American Councils (LULAC) No. 1 is proud to go on record as adamantly opposing the permitting or building of Las Brisas Energy Center in Corpus Christi, Texas by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
To permit this plant to continue its plans to construct an energy center in Corpus Christi Texas is tantamount to cultural and ethnic genocide. The projected overload of pollutant and particulate matter will not only adversely affect the over-all population of our community, but, will grossly add to the economic burden of trying to provide adequate health care and prevention to a segment of the community that is already tragically lagging in that area- our poor Latino, Black, and Anglo neighbors who have fallen through the economic cracks and cannot afford even the most basic of health care. LULAC Council No. 1 has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with our community partners like the Nueces County Medical Society, the Beach Access Coalition, Sierra Club, Texas Coastal Bend Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, and the Clean Economy Coalition to oppose this travesty from occurring We oppose Las Brisas’ permit and construction because of the horrific adverse effects on our community and our economy due to the massive health issues that will be forthcoming if this plant is allowed to build.
LULAC Council No.1 strongly urges and calls for the US Environmental Protection Agency to step forward and intervene in this issue since the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has failed the people of the State of Texas and the Coastal bend community by succumbing to the Las Brisas lobbyists and those who profit from the permitting and construction of coal-burning and pet-coke plants. TCEQ has continually ignored the please of the public and continue to unfairly allow Las Brisas latitude to correct falsehoods on their permitting applications and have given them a more than unequal advantage in the hearing process. Any other organization would have been reprimanded or had their permit revoked except for the vast amounts of money that are being spent to ease the process on behalf of the Las Brisas Energy Center.
In the opinion of LULAC Council No.1, TCEQ is not operating within the legal parameters and standards of the Clean Air Act and has abrogated its responsibility to the people of Texas, the City of Corpus Christi, and the surrounding communities of the Coastal Bend. Now is the time to correct the errancy of this state agency.
With utmost respect, I remain
Roland A. Gaona, Trustee
LULAC Council No. 1
Last week, hundreds of students and community members from Corpus Christi, Texas, disappointed with the carelessness of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s permitting policy, began appealing directly to the Environmental Protection Agency‘s enforcement offices.
The proposed petroleum coke plant, the Las Brisas Energy Center, was proposed in 2008 and is currently undergoing the contested case hearing process to obtain a permit. The hearing, conducted by the State Office of Administrative Hearings, will result in a non-enforceable recommendation made by the Administrative Law Judges to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The hearing is set for late October.
“We decided that we can’t wait while the TCEQ issues a questionable flex permit to the Las Brisas Energy Center. So we decided to gather petitions at our university calling on the EPA to intervene and sent them directly to Gina McCarthy, the head of enforcement at the EPA,” states Daniel Lucio, student at Texas A & M, Corpus Christi.
“We have a real problem with the TCEQ’s permitting process,” says Jim Klein, chair of Corpus Christi’s Clean Economy Coalition, “Chairman Bryan Shaw and Commissioner Buddy Garcia have stated that a case by case MACT analysis is not needed for this plant, and we know that this flex permitting isn’t complying with the federal Clean Air Act.”
Hal Suter, of the local Sierra Club, explained, “Over a hundred of us took action and called, emailed, or signed a petition that went directly Gina McCarthy’s office last week, because we can’t wait while this dirty petroleum coke plant, Las Brisas, moves forward.”