Tag Archives: United States Environmental Protection Agency

Clean Air Rules!

The EPA released the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) today protecting the health of millions of Americans. The new rule helps 27 states to lower air pollution and improve air quality for all through the reduction of emissions from coal plants that add to ozone and fine particle pollution.

This new rule replaces the 2005 Clean Air Interstate Rule, which in 2008 a court ordered the EPA to replace.

Health Impacts

The EPA estimates that this new rule will keep Americans healthy by preventing:

  • up to 34,000 cases of premature mortality
  • 15,000 non-fatal heart attacks
  • 19,000 hospital and emergency department visits
  • 420,000 cases of upper and lower respiratory symptoms
  • 400,000 cases of aggravated asthma

This adds up to avoiding 1.8 million days of work or school missed by Americans and saving $280 billion/year! According to EPA Administrator, this rule will prevent 670-1,000 premature deaths by 2014 in Texas alone.

Other Impacts

The CSAPR will also:

  • Allow families to enjoy the summer without smog.
  • Increase visibility in national parks.
  • Protect sensitive ecosystems
  • More jobs through new construction of pollution controls, according to the EPA

Affects in Texas

“There is no reason why Texas shouldn’t get the benefits of this extraordinary rule like the rest of the country.” –Lisa Jackson, EPA Administrator

Texas was one of the states included in this rule, which sets limits for NOx and SO2emissions. While some in the energy industry are complaining that there was not enough time to comment on this rule, according to EPA administrator Lisa Jackson they were given plenty of time and made a number of comments. The pollution controls are widely available and many power plants have already invested in them.

Also, this rule will help Texas, since Texas is affected by ozone from 11 other states! Most major cities in Texas will be out of attainment when the EPA releases its new ozone standards. Click here to see a map!  Moreover, Texans are the people most severely impacted by pollution from power plants, so the CSAPR will help us to lower pollution in our state benefiting many across Texas.

For more information go to the EPA’s website at: http://www.epa.gov/airtransport/

Also, next week Texas environmental groups will release new data that details pollution problems at existing coal plants and underscores the importance EPA’s inclusion of Texas in this new Cross State Air Pollution rule.

EPA administrator Lisa Jackson thinks it is a fundamental right for people to be able to breathe clean air and raise their families without the health threats of air pollution. Don’t you agree?

Click here to sign a petition supporting the EPA’s new proposal for mercury standards and continue protecting the health of American families!

Join us at a meeting!The Austin group of the Lone Star Chapter of Sierra Club on the 2nd Tuesday of every month (except holidays) at 7pm (with a social hour starting at 6pm) in North Dining Room of Scholz’ Beer Garten, 1607 San Jacinto.

-Julia Von Alexander, Beyond Coal Intern


Take Action Online Against Las Brisas!

Towards the end of January an independent panel of judges, the Office of Public Interest Counsel, and the EPA all recommended that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality deny the proposed Las Brisas petroleum-coke burning plant an air permit, based on its multiple deficiencies and clear violations of the Clean Air Act. The Perry-appointed commissioners approved it anyways. According to its own permit, Las Brisas will emit 220 pounds of mercury, 100 pounds of lead, 8,096 pounds of sulfur dioxide, and 1,767 tons of particulate matter on a yearly basis.

Communities in Corpus Christi are left with few options: the ultimate authority of the EPA, and the leadership of their elected officials.

“This is my hometown, and I love it,” Rebecca Lyons, a graduating honors student at TAMU Corpus Christi, told Matt Tresaugue of the Houston Chronicleback in January, “But I don’t want to raise a family here because of the health risks…There has to be a better way.”

After hundreds of letters, petitions, and phone calls made to the EPA, Corpus Christi residents are taking their fight to the online world. Join us!

Take Action Online!

Copy and paste this status and video to the EPA’s Facebook pages!

Corpus Christi doesn’t want Las Brisas. Stop the air permit now! http://bit.ly/merA7n

EPA’s Facebook Page: http://on.fb.me/X4FYe

EPA Region 6 Facebook Page: http://on.fb.me/lBXW9C

Administrator Lisa Jackson’s Facebook Page: http://on.fb.me/130rQ6

Are you on Twitter? Tweet with us!

@epaGOV @lisapjackson I want clean air! Stop the Las Brisas air permit in Corpus Christi, TX! http://bit.ly/merA7n

Ready to go the distance? Ask your elected officials if they support responsible growth, or Las Brisas…Copy and paste this to their Facebook pages:

I’m a voting constituent, and I don’t want Las Brisas. Do you? http://bit.ly/merA7n

US House Rep Blake Farenthold: http://on.fb.me/f2XnkP

State Rep Connie Scott: http://on.fb.me/jj0qJv

State Rep Todd Hunter: http://on.fb.me/mpSG5d

Mayor Joe Adame: http://on.fb.me/km137a

State Senator Judith Zaffirini: http://on.fb.me/lbxOW5

State Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa does not have a Facebook page. Send his office an email instead by scrolling down here.


Enhanced by Zemanta

You, too, can have your own Decorative Inhaler

Tackling Childhood Asthma Not Coal Industry Priority After All
No more My Little Pony inhalers in stock
Contact: asthma@coalcares.org, (314) 472-5539
A charitable initiative by the world’s largest coal company to provide free “novelty-themed” inhalers to asthmatic children may have seemed for a moment like a (somewhat misguided) breath of fresh air, coming as it did from an industry whose emissions are directly linked to childhood asthma, and which is fighting to gut clean air legislation that would save children’s lives.

Coal Cares™ (www.coalcares.org) is purported to “make asthma cool” with decorative and pop-culture inspired inhalers (“The Bieber,” “Harry Potter,” “My Little Pony,” and “My First Inhaler” were particular favorites). The site also announced that Peabody would offer $10 coupons towards asthma medication (about 5%-20% of the cost) for families living within 200 miles of a coal-fired plant. It featured a “Kidz Koal Korner” with asthma-related games for tots, an extensive asthma trivia section and FAQ (Peter the Great was asthmatic, who knew!), and a thorough condemnation of solar and wind alternatives.
It was, of course, a hoax, and it was aimed at Peabody Coal, which is lobbying ferociously against new pollution standards for power plants proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), standards the agency says will prevent 120,000 cases of childhood asthma each year in the United States. Peabody spent over $6 million lobbying Congress last year, and the industry has created a dizzying array of fake “grassroots” front groups to distort the public debate and fight legislation.
(Meanwhile, a new study by the American Lung Association notes that coal-fired power plants produce more hazardous air pollution in the United States than any other source, with the pollution killing 13,000 people a year. Coal-ash disposal alone increases risk of cancer, learning disabilities, birth defects and other illnesses due to exposure from heavy metals such as arsenic, lead and mercury.)
The Coal Cares™ hoax was devised by a group called Coal is Killing Kids (CKK), a small environmental and public health group that aims to challenge Big Coal’s expensive lobbying against sensible updates to the Clean Air Act. “We don’t have their millions, but we do have a knack for incredibly tasteless jokes,” said Veronica Tomlinson, a pediatrician and member of CKK. CKK worked with the Yes Lab, which is a project of The Yes Men to help activist groups carry out media-savvy creative actions on their own.
“Sure, it’s kind of tasteless to say that ‘Bieber’ inhalers are a solution to childhood asthma,” said Janet Bellamy, a spokesperson for CKK. “But it’s a great deal more tasteless to cause that asthma in the first place, as coal-fired power plants have been proven to do.” Added Justin V. Bond, another spokesperson for CKK: “It’s even more tasteless to disproportionately kill poor people.” Coal-fired power plants are very often built in areas populated by low-income citizens, who then bear the brunt of the health effects.
“People may laugh at our sick jokes,” said Bellamy, “but they also understand the real health impacts of burning coal. That’s exactly what the coal industry doesn’t want people to think about, because if enough of us were aware of it, we would shut these plants down once and for all.”

Enhanced by Zemanta

There’s Something in the Dirt in Texas

“What I don’t understand is why Texas always has to take care of everybody else’s crap,” says Kenny Ahlrich, a cotton and milo farmer in Robstown, Texas. We’re riding his pickup truck along the perimeter of his property, which happens to be right next to U.S. Ecology, a hazardous waste treatment and disposal plant.

Kenny and Virginia Ahlrich

A known rabbler-rouser in Corpus Christi, Carolyn Moon, had written an email to a group of activists about her visit a few days before: “I was out there for a half an hour and started to cough. A big black cloud of particulate matter puffed into the air while I was watching, and black smoke was coming out of the processing building. Virginia Ahlrich called the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s 800 number, but it didn’t sound like they were interested, and they didn’t give her an incident number.”

As U.S. Ecology undergoes a permit modification with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the public is wondering just how many incidents there have to be before a toxic waste processing facility becomes a danger to the public. The dump has been there since 1973. The Ahlriches started farming there at the end of that decade. The tap water is undrinkable, and Kenny has been treated for heavy metal poisoning multiple times.

The facility has had multiple incidents, only some of which have gone recorded. Huge plumes of dirt from the facility have flown up and been dispersed for years. And in this part of the Texas, the wind can really blow.

As we ride around the property, Kenny Ahlrich shows me pictures of dirt falling from dump trucks that passed by his property years ago.

We drive by a large, damp spot, caused by uncontrolled drainage from the site. The farmer who plows that land had to go around it. Growing cotton in toxic soil doesn’t sound particularly appealing to him.

As US Ecology undergoes a permit modification, citizens in the area have become increasingly aware of the problems associated with the facility, and are turning out for hearings and passing the word along to their neighbors. When it comes to protecting public health, they’re not going to leave it to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to do the right thing.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Hold that Horse—Houstonions demand an Environmental Impact Statement on White Stallion

As if the environmental impact on Matagorda county wasn’t bad enough, estimated tons of air emissions and chemical discharge from the White Stallion coal center of Bay City means that pollution contamination would reach miles beyond the plant’s physical location, affecting air quality in neighboring Houston, the most populous city in the southern US.  White Stallion’s emissions jeopardize public health and warrants the need for the EPA to conduct an overall Environmental Impact Statement, not just for the lives in for Bay City, but for Houston as well.

Air quality signboard indicating an ozone watc...

Image via Wikipedia

EPA Air Quality Index

The once embarrassing title, ‘smog capital of the nation,’ jolted Houston into lowering emissions to finally meet federal levels in 2009, but tighter standards imposed last year by the EPA has put Houston back in the struggle to make deeper cutbacks.  The Houston Chronicle reports, the White Stallion facility would push Houston past federal limits for smog and ozone, pumping more than 4,000 tons of nitrogen oxides into the air, the equivalent of 4.8 billion cars, and singlehandedly increasing Houston’s ozone level by 2 parts per billion.  At a time when the EPA has taken strict controls on air pollution to halt new emissions, the need for an EIS on White Stallion is especially dire.  Mayor Parker of Houston has already called upon the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to require an EIS for White Stallion, and for that we thank Mayor Parker.

— Tyra Ismail, Sierra Club Intern —

Enhanced by Zemanta

ALERT: Chisum Would Gut TCEQ Process

Folks, we have been focusing on fighting Chisum’s amendments to the TCEQ Sunset Bill. But Chisum has another trick up his sleeve- the amendment is being introduced as a stand-alone bill, HB 3251.

This is the bill that eliminates the opportunity for a contested case hearing on any amendment to an air pollution permit held by an electric generating facility (read: coal-fired power plant) to implement new controls on hazardous air pollutants such as mercury and toxics (hazardous air pollutants or HAPs are covered under Section 112 of the federal Clean Air Act).

The contested case opportunity is replaced with what essentially is a public meeting (called public “hearing” in the bill but this is really more akin to what we know in Texas as a public meeting) and public comment period – basically a meaningless public venting process.

No “affected person” status, no referral of a case to the State Office of Hearing Examiners for a quasi-judicial proceeding before an administrative law judge, no discovery, no cross-examination of witnesses, no burden of proof on the applicant, no leverage to force an applicant to the negotiating table to try to greater reductions in the emissions of hazardous air pollutants than the applicant and TCEQ have already agreed to (not likely to be as protective as what citizen groups would demand).

Call your State Representative! Find them here.

Sample Script:

“Hi my name is ____ and I’d like to leave a message for Representative _____. I strongly oppose House Bill 3251. It eliminates the contested case process when industry applies for a permit, which means that the people don’t have any role in the decisionmaking process. Please ask Representative ____ to oppose HB 3251. Thanks.”

Enhanced by Zemanta

Thanks, Mayor Parker!

The Mayor of Houston Requests the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to Require Environmental Impact Statement from White Stallion Coal Plant

 Mayor Parker Concerned about Proposed Coal Plant Impacts on Houston Air Quality, Coastal Wetlands, and Lower Colorado River

(Houston, Texas)   Mayor Annise D. Parker sent a letter last week to the Colonel in charge of the United States Army Corps of Engineers, Galveston District office requesting the Corps require an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) from the company behind the proposed White Stallion Coal Plant planned on Matagorda Bay southeast of Houston.

Mayor Parker cited concerns about air pollution:

I am concerned that the proposed White Stallion Energy Center (White Stallion) located just 20 miles outside the Houston-Galveston-Brazoria non-attainment region will put my city at risk for additional bad air days and will put at risk the investment made by industries within this area to clean up our air.  Houston’s industries have put time and money into reducing our air pollution.  Allowing such a large new source of nitrogen oxide (which is a key component of ozone), mercury, dioxin, sulfur dioxide, and lead from White Stallion to be emitted so closely to this should be examined through the EIS process.

 Prior to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) permitting the White Stallion plant in September, 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warned the TCEQ that the White Stallion permit did not adequately address how it ‘would not cause or contribute to violations of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ozone.’  Mayor Parker bases her concerns on the EPA guidance to TCEQ.

“Houston is a severe ozone nonattainment area with one of the worst smog problems in the nation,” said Dr. Neil Carman, chemist and Sierra Club Clean Air Program Director.  “The truth is that without another source of pollution, Houston is already off to a roaring start to the 2011 ozone season with seven bad air days already through April 24.  Mayor Parker’s concerns are well-founded.”

Houston Mayor Parker also expressed concern that:

  1.  White Stallion project, if built, would dredge and fill wetlands needed for protecting coastal communities from hurricane storm surges;  and,
  2. Planned multiple, daily coal barge trips would require dredging and widening the sensitive lower Colorado and would likely ‘erode the unprotected shoreline, and eventually destroy recreational and subsistence fishing.

“We appreciate that Mayor Parker has taken this vital action to protect Houston air quality and the coastal wetlands environment from significant, proposed degradation by White Stallion coal plant,” said Lydia Avila with Sierra Club.  “The Army Corps will take the next step and the EIS will confirm our belief that the proposed White Stallion coal plant is not in the best interests of individuals, businesses, or the environment.  White Stallion should never be built.”

The EIS process is a provision of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) which requires federal agencies such as the Army Corps of Engineers to integrate environmental values into decision-making processes by considering the environmental impacts of proposed actions and reasonable alternatives.

Beside this EIS, White Stallion project would also have to obtain a water contract from the LCRA before it could operate.

#   #   #

Enhanced by Zemanta