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Posts Tagged ‘pollution’

Houston pleads its case to the Supreme Court

We’ll see how they did. “The point of all this is to protect the public and the environment, to have clean air, and the TCEQ, for the Texas Clean Air Act, envisions that it be vigorously enforced,” [Houston attorney Robert] Higgason said. “This is what the statute makes reference to — cities being allowed to […]

Houston’s environmental protection ordinances go to the Supreme Court

Where, sadly, they’ll likely get killed. State environmental regulators don’t adequately enforce air pollution laws, the city of Houston believes, and on Wednesday it will ask the state’s highest civil court to let it keep trying to do the job itself. The state Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case challenging a pair of […]

Split decision on cross-state air pollution rule

Not too bad, actually. Texas’ Republican leaders and environmentalists are both claiming victory Tuesday following an appeals court ruling that requires the federal government to ease limits on certain emissions for Texas and a dozen other states. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on Tuesday ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to revisit […]

SCOTUS gives polluters a win

Alas. t emissions of mercury and other hazardous air pollutants, but it may only be a temporary setback for regulators. The justices split 5-4 along ideological lines to rule that the Environmental Protection Agency failed to take cost into account when it first decided to regulate the toxic emissions from coal- and oil-fired plants. The […]

Abbott signs pollution enhancement bill

Still sucks to be us, Harris County. Gov. Greg Abbott has signed legislation that could make it tougher for local governments to sue big-time polluters – an effort that largely targets Harris County prosecutors. House Bill 1794, set to become law on Sept. 1, will set a five-year statute of limitations and cap payouts at […]

Local control still under assault

Sucks to be us, Harris County. With Harris County in its crosshairs, the Senate on Wednesday tentatively approved legislation that could make it tougher for Texas Counties to sue big-time polluters. If finally passed, House Bill 1794 would notch another victory for a wide range of business groups in a legislative session that’s been kind […]

Once again to SCOTUS for Texas and the EPA

Plus ca change, and all that. Texas again went head-to-head with the Environmental Protection Agency before the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday, this time challenging federal limits on the emission of pollutants like mercury, acid gases and other toxic metals from power plants. Joined by 20 other states, Texas is arguing that the EPA didn’t […]

Local control deathwatch: Environment

Unsurprisingly, the Denton fracking ban has provoked a strong reaction. As policy dilemmas go, the one triggered when Denton voters decided last fall to ban hydraulic fracturing in their city looked like a whopper: The oil and gas industry versus local control — two things Texas holds dear — in intractable opposition. There seemed little […]

Yes, we can cut back on coal

It won’t be that hard, and it will come with a lot of benefits. Texas burns more coal than any other state in part because of its large and growing population and industrial base. But the carbon-intensive fuel accounted for less than 40 percent of the state’s power use last year. The federal proposal calls […]

ERCOT acknowledges that meeting EPA clean air requirements won’t be that big a deal

From Texas Clean Air Matters: Well, it didn’t take long before the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) released, at the request of Texas’ very political Public Utilities Commission, another report about the impacts of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) rules designed to protect public health. This time ERCOT, which manages 90 percent of Texas’ […]

Landfill opponents win in Hempstead lawsuit

Good news. A jury on Thursday found that Waller County commissioners met illegally in closed sessions among themselves and with developers of a controversial landfill proposal over more than two years before agreeing to host the project. After a three-week jury trial that was the talk of this rural county, the 12-member jury sided with […]

Hempstead landfill trial update

It’s complicated. For many in the courtroom, a judge’s promise Friday that the Waller County landfill trial would conclude “before Santa Claus comes” was welcome news. Earlier in the week, they had lamented the possibility that the trial – one over an issue that has divided the rural county for the past two years – […]

Here come the new ozone standards

I have three things to say about this. Over the objections of Texas officials, the Obama administration on Wednesday proposed a long-delayed rule to slash levels of ozone – a smog-forming pollutant known to worsen asthma, lung disease and heart conditions. The regulation is the latest example of the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s use of […]

Hempstead landfill fight goes to court

An update on a story I’ve been following for a few years. For the last two years, Waller County and the city of Hempstead have been pitted against each other in a high-profile legal battle over a proposed landfill in the city’s outskirts, a project many in the area see as both an economic and […]

“Environmental tort reform”

Oh, hell no. After failing in their attempt to limit cities and counties’ ability to take industrial polluters to court, some Houston businesses and statewide lobbyists now want to limit how much local governments can collect in penalties, a sort of environmental tort reform effort aimed squarely at a Harris County Attorney’s office they say […]

News flash: Greg Abbott wants to sue the EPA again

Nobody could have foreseen this! Foretelling a new environmental battle between state and federal regulators, Attorney General Greg Abbott on Monday demanded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency back down from a proposal to expand the definition of federal waters to include seasonal and rain-dependent waterways. The proposal “is without adequate scientific and economic justification and, […]

Texas will do just fine under the new EPA clean air regulations

Unless it wants to fail, of course, which is always an option under the likes of Rick Perry and Greg Abbott. Texas could lead the way into a less carbon-intensive future under the Obama administration’s plans to sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants. Or the state could have trouble keeping the lights […]

Court rules for the EPA against Texas again

Another win for the environment. A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld the Obama administration’s new rules that for the first time limit emissions of mercury and other harmful pollutants from coal- and oil-fired power plants. In a split decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected a Texas-based challenge […]

San Antonio plastic bag ban update

Here’s an update on the city of San Antonio’s effort to regulate plastic bag usage, which may include a ban. It’s written by San Antonio City Council member Cris Medina, who is the point person for the effort. Late last year, after multiple conversations with members of the Citizen’s Environmental Advisory Committee (members are appointed […]

Texas stands with polluters against the EPA one more time

Here we go. The Obama administration’s climate change agenda on Monday faced one of its first real tests in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, where Texas and a group of industry leaders challenged an Environmental Protection Agency regulation aimed at limiting greenhouse gas emissions. The question before the court is whether permits needed by […]

EPA and TCEQ settle lawsuits over flex permits

One less court fight for us and the feds. The EPA and Texas on Wednesday said they have reached a deal over state permits for industrial air pollution, ending a four-year fight that to some had become a symbol of regulatory overreach by the federal government. The agreement comes after the federal agency initially rejected […]

That pollution isn’t our fault!

You have to admire the creativity. Harris County’s problem with tiny, lung-damaging particles in the air can be blamed partly on African dust and crop-clearing fires in Mexico, the state’s environmental agency has told federal regulators. If the Environmental Protection Agency agrees with the state’s finding, then the county would avoid stringent pollution controls and […]

Going after the dumpers

Glad to see this. City Council District B will be the site of a pilot program in which five surveillance video cameras have been placed in undisclosed locations, [Mayor Annise] Parker announced. The cameras will be monitored in real time by the Houston Police Department’s Environmental Investigations Unit, which will relay information about illegal dumping […]

SCOTUS to hear CSAPR appeal

I’m not terribly excited about anything the Supreme Court does these days, but we’ll see about this. The U.S. Supreme Court decided Monday to take a case that has pitted Texas against the Obama administration over a federal rule aimed at reducing air pollution that crosses state borders. The decision comes 10 months after a […]

Everybody sues the EPA

The state of Texas and our pollution-loving Attorney General do it because they think the EPA does too much to protect us from harm. Some other groups do it because they think the EPA isn’t doing enough. In the suit filed on Thursday, Air Alliance Houston and three other groups accuse the U.S. Environmental Protection […]

Texas versus EPA, round one zillion

The desire to coddle polluters is strong in this one. A Texas-led coalition of energy-producing states has asked the Supreme Court to hear a case involving the Obama administration’s efforts to regulate emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases. The petition, which was filed last week, comes 10 months after a three-judge panel of […]

Protecting polluters

Ridiculous. It’s never been easy fighting powerful polluters in Texas. A bill approved by a Senate committee today would make it even harder. With a big push from the Texas Chemical Council and the Texas Association of Business, the Senate Natural Resources Committee voted 6-3 today for legislation “streamlining” (read: weakening) the process that communities […]

Still fighting the Waller County landfill

I’ve written before about a battle in Waller County over a proposed landfill that would be built there. While the landfill has moved closer to being approved, it’s not yet a done deal, and its opponents are still fighting against it. “This landfill has done more to divide our county than anything I’ve ever seen. […]

Houston loses air pollution permit lawsuit

Bummer. The Texas Supreme Court ruled Friday that Houston may not effectively void a state air pollution permit. The justices agreed with Southern Crushed Concrete that Houston’s 2007 law restricting the location of concrete-crushing facilities violates state statute by nullifying a permit issued by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. In reversing an appeals court […]

White Stallion coal plant deep sixed

I mentioned this in passing the other day, but the news that White Stallion has been shelved deserves its own post. Developers have dropped plans for the White Stallion Energy Center about 90 miles southwest of Houston, signaling the end of a once heady rush to build several new coal-fired power plants across Texas. White […]

We’ve got mercury, yes we do

Once again, Texas overachieves at something bad. Even though mercury and other hazardous air pollution from U.S. power plants are declining, the progress at the coal-fired power plants are uneven, leaving in place a significant remaining risk to the health of the public and environment, according to a new report by the Environmental Integrity Project […]

More on metal recycling

The Chron has a followup story on metal recycling and hexavalent chromium. Houston air experts plan to deepen their investigation into the air outside metal recycling companies after their measurements showed – apparently for the first time – that the businesses could be a source of potent fumes known to cause cancer. “We are searching […]

Recycling pollution

This is unfortunate. The calls to the city of Houston’s 311 help line came in the early morning and the middle of the night – complaints of red smoke, yellow smoke, explosions, fire, a child having trouble breathing. Reports like these – 189 of them over the last five years – led Houston air authorities […]

Soot

We have it. What are we going to do about it? Harris County, long known for smog, will need to clamp down on another harmful type of air pollution for the first time under new rules imposed by federal regulators Friday. The Environmental Protection Agency set a stricter standard for tiny particulate matter, or soot, […]