Tag Archives: las brisas

The Fight is Not Over

Today the Perry-appointed Commissioners of the TCEQ flagged their noses at federal law and voted to give a permit to a petroleum coke-fired power plant Las Brisas.  Also known as Lost Brisas. 

The bridge crossing into Corpus Christi.
Image via Wikipedia

A group of valiant Corpus Christi retirees traveled four hours from the Gulf Coast to the Capitol of Texas to represent hundreds of citizens, numerous organizations, and several counties’ medical societies opposing the dirty Las Brisas coke-fired power plant.  After the TCEQ’s illegal decision allowing the permit, the fed up Corpus Christi people headed to the Capitol to let our outlaw Governor know what they think of the decision. 

Yesterday the EPA told the TCEQ not to do it.  Today, the TCEQ ignored the directive from their accrediting agency and violated the law.

The fight is far from over.  And though tenacious troops may feel weary today that our state has gone outlaw and failed to protect, we are just catching the collective breath — because we still can…a deep breath!  And we’re ready to keep up this fight to block Las Brisas.  Watch the KIII-TV news coverage.

On our side is the federal Clean Act.  We’re calling on the EPA to uphold it in Texas where the outlaw TCEQ would allow large, ready polluters to have their way with our health and environment.

Read more to find out why this plant would be a grave malignant travesty and why Sierra Club and our friends are not going to let it happen.

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People vs. Pet Coke: Las Brisas Action Alert

ACTION ALERT

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 mccarthy.gina@epa.gov, 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.

Let’s track our progress- after you email Ms. McCarthy, shoot me (flavia.delafuente@sierraclub.org) an email letting me know that you reached out to them.

Happy writing! And I’m always available for questions/concerns.
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“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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LULAC #1 Slams Las Brisas

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
Sincerely,

Roland A. Gaona, Trustee
LULAC Council No. 1

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Unprecedented failures by TCEQ call for unprecedented action by EPA

For years the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has let down the people of Texas.  Finally – we have the Environmental Protection Agency holding TCEQ accountable by  looking out for the health of Texans and Americans across the country!   EPA needs comments from you on these two rules, so I’ll let you know a little bit about both of them.

1.  The first is the Good Neighbor Rule – this one regulates interstate transport of air pollution.  As you can imagine, our neighbors in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana and even Kansas are not too thrilled with how much air pollution Texas Coal plants are sending to these states.  Texas has the worst air pollution in the country – and we can do so much better.  Looks like our neighbors are getting fed up, and Texas is finally going to have to do something about it.  I have an idea – don’t build a dozen new coal plants adding over 70 million tons of co2 into the atmosphere!!  Submit your comment here today.

2.  Speaking of CO2 – the leading cause of climate change – EPA has also proposed a rule to regulate global warming emissions.  If you ask me, this is a no brainer.  Apparently – TCEQ and Governor Perry think Texas should be exempt from this regulation.  Every other state in the nation at least attempts to abide by the Clean Air Act – why should Texas alone be exempt from this?  I love Texas, I want to raise a family here one day.  I also want them to have what all Americans should have – the right to clean water and clean air.

Until Texas agrees to regulate CO2 emissions like every other state is required to do, no new air permits should be granted in the state of Texas.

Posted by Eva Hernandez, Beyond Coal Campaign – Texas Sierra Club

ACTION ALERT- Call in, stop Las Brisas

Hey there!

We’ve got an Action Alert! This week, hundreds of people from Corpus Christi and across Texas will be calling the Environmental Protection Agency to ask them to ensure that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is complying with the Federal Clean Air Act. To protect our air, our water, our earth, and our health, we are going to make our voices heard!

Under the federal Clean Air Act, the EPA has the power to intervene in any permitting process to make sure that polluters are complying with the law.

In the case of the Las Brisas Energy Center, the situation is critical and we need the EPA to step in. Pollution will increase by 82%, they’ll dump 220 pounds of mercury a year, the plant will use 3 million gallons of water a day, and Nueces and San Patricio Counties will almost certainly reach ozone non-attainment levels, which means pricey smog-checks for everybody and a rollback of production for local industries.

So, we’ve decided to call the EPA’s enforcement offices. We have two sample scripts for you to help you out, and remember: don’t be nervous! They are nice people, so don’t forget to smile (even though they can’t see you) and say thanks!

Call Gina McCarthy, head of enforcement at the EPA at 202-564-7404. If she’s not there, leave a message!

Script:

Concerned citizen (that’s you): “Hello Ms. McCarthy, my name is ___, and I’d like to bring an important issue to your attention.”

EPA: “Sure, go right ahead.”

Concerned Citizen:

1) “I am really concerned with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s permitting process on the Las Brisas Energy Center in Corpus Christi, Texas. I am worried about pollution in our air, our water, and our soil. I am calling to ask that the EPA intervene and ensure that the the permit complies with the Federal Clean Air Act. Thank you for your time.”

OR

2) “I have a real problem with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s permitting process as it considers whether to grant the Las Brisas Energy Center an air permit for its proposed petroleum coke plant in Corpus Christi, Texas. TCEQ officials have expressly stated that a case by case MACT analysis is not needed for this plant. I know that means that TCEQ is letting Las Brisas pollute at greater quantities into my area and with less oversight. I am calling to ask that the EPA intervene and ensure that the permit complies with the Federal Clean Air Act. Thank you for your time.”

You just did a good deed! Pat yourself on the back, email this to your friends, and stay tuned by checking out http://www.texasgreenreport.org online, Texas Sierra Club on Facebook, and @TexasSierraClub on Twitter.

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The People vs. Pet Coke: Las Brisas on the Run

Last week, the Administrative Law Judges moved the Las Brisas hearings back by six weeks due to an accident that severely injured a key expert witness for the Environmental Defense Fund.  In response, the Las Brisas Energy Center contended that this delay was not necessary because the EDF’s witness was not, in fact, an expert witness.

In a race to beat the clock, the Las Brisas Energy Center is hoping to be able to move forward with the pet-coke plant in downtown Corpus Christi before the Environmental Protection Agency announces new regulations for greenhouse gas emissions- regulations they clearly do not look forward to.

The ALJs responded to the Las Brisas Energy Center’s request to move forward with a hearing as soon as possible with a blistering rejection, stating that they “found the Applicant [Las Brisas Energy Center] in a predicament of its own making,” having “failed to meet its burden of proof when given a two-week hearing to present its application… Applicant finds itself in the present predicament because it failed to prove its Application met all applicable rules and regulation during the first hearing.”

Translation? This is your own fault.

But wait- we’ve just discovered that even before the ALJs responded, Las Brisas Energy Center has filed a motion for a new hearing before the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality… even before the judges refused to change the delayed hearing date.

Will the TCEQ lend the Las Brisas pet-coke plant a helping hand? Or will they stand by the letter of the law?  Stay tuned, we’ll find out soon enough.