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Posts Tagged ‘TCEQ’

“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, […]

From the “Those that disregard history are doomed to repeat it” department

This is the state of environment protection in Texas. Texas’ top environmental regulator suggested Thursday that the state may ignore a proposed directive from the Obama administration in June to reduce carbon emissions from power plants. “I’m concerned that if this is not contested, if we don’t dispute this, if we don’t win, the implications […]

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 […]

The cost of fighting the inevitable

Trib headline: Anti-Regulation Politics May Have Hurt Energy Industry. Oh, the irony. Businesses in energy-related industries in Texas say they have been unable to take full advantage of the natural gas boom that is roaring across the state because of a delay in the issuing of greenhouse gas permits — an instance in which Texas’ […]

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 […]

Texas loses another lawsuit against the EPA

Getting to be a habit. A federal appeals court on Friday rejected a legal challenge by Texas and Wyoming to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, in a 2-1 vote, said the states and various […]

“An accident waiting to happen”

I don’t even know what to say. There were no sprinklers. No firewalls. No water deluge systems. Safety inspections were rare at the fertilizer company in West, Texas, that exploded and killed at least 14 people this week. This is not unusual. Small fertilizer plants nationwide fall under the purview of several government agencies, each […]

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. […]

Adventures in water marketing

The headline on this story is about Texans’ increasing interest in recycling water. That sounds nice, doesn’t it? But there’s another way of describing it that maybe isn’t so appealing. Experts say recycled wastewater will play a key role in satisfying the thirst of a rapidly growing population. While reuse now provides 2 percent of […]

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 […]

Who gets the water?

This will be worth watching. A simple idea has guided appropriations of Texas water for decades: First come, first served. Now, with drought conditions returning to almost the entire state, the principle is being put to the test by a fight over water in the Brazos River. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is withholding […]

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 […]

EDF report on school buses

From the Environmental Defense Fund: Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) [Monday] released a report titled “Review of Texas’ Clean School Bus Programs: How Far Have We Come and What Is Still Left to Do?” This report evaluates each of the clean school bus programs in Texas, reviews accomplishments, and offers suggestions for improvement. Diesel engines power […]

CSAPR knocked down by federal court

Score one for the polluters. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled in a 2-1 decision that the Environmental Protection Agency overstepped its authority with the new regulation. Led by Texas, 14 states and several power companies challenged the legality of the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which imposes caps on […]

Count tells EPA to review flex permits

Score one for Texas. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that the Environmental Protection Agency’s disapproval of Texas’ Flexible Permits program was not supported by the Clean Air Act. Under the Flexible Permits program, which had been in place since 1994, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality put a cap on allowed […]

More on the landfills of Waller County

Last July I wrote about a proposed landfill in Waller County near Hempstead and the residents who are fighting against it. The Statesman has an update on the story. In many ways, the landfill fight in this rural Texas town two hours east of Austin has a standard shape: An out-of-state corporation is accused of […]

Who gets to use the water?

There’s a lot more demand for an increasingly limited supply. More than miles separate the rice farms of the Texas coast and the Highland Lakes, where the outward march of Austin is marked by each new house, strip mall and marina. They are divided by how to share the water of the Colorado River, pitting […]

Fifth Circuit rules for EPA against Texas

It’s always a pleasure seeing our litigious Attorney General get slapped down by whatever court he’s bothering this week. In the latest turn in a saga pitting environmental regulators in Washington against those in Austin, a panel of federal judges on Friday sided with the federal Environmental Protection Agency in its effort to tamp down […]

Can ban lawsuit moves back to Comal County

From last week: Travis County District Judge Scott Jenkins removed two state agencies from a lawsuit filed against New Braunfels by a coalition of businesses over the law banning disposable containers on the rivers — popular tubing routes. Jenkins dismissed the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Texas General Land Office from the suit. […]

Can ban lawsuit moves to Travis County

Some new plaintiffs, too. A group of river-related businesses has sued the City of New Braunfels, Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and Mark Vickery , executive director of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, over a ban on disposable containers on rivers within New Braunfels city limits that went into effect this year. The suit, […]

Matagorda smog

I feel like there are some pieces missing in this discussion. The Environmental Protection Agency is seeking to add Matagorda County to the list of Texas’ smog violators because Gulf breezes that blow through the area send air pollution toward the sprawling metropolis. Local leaders are pushing back, saying the dubious distinction would lead to […]

Sierra Club sues over coal permits

Remember how four coal plants were granted permits to pollute more in December? You probably don’t, because it basically happened under cover of darkness. The Sierra Club found out about it and has filed a lawsuit to call a halt to it. The environmental group is appealing permit amendments approved Dec. 16 by the Texas […]

How gassy are we?

I’m talking about greenhouse gases, of course. And the answer is, now you can find out for yourself. The greenhouse gas wars are about to heat up again in Texas. Next month, a federal court hears oral arguments in lawsuits that Texas has filed to challenge the Environmental Protection Agency, which began regulating heat-trapping emissions […]

Valero will not appeal tax break decision

Good. Valero Energy Corp. has decided not to appeal the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s rejection of its request for a controversial property tax exemption. [...] Valero spokesman Bill Day said the company no longer would seek the exemption because it had reached agreements with appraisal districts for lower valuations on their refineries in all […]

CSAPR stayed

There was some bad news at the end of the year. A federal court ordered [last] Friday that the Environmental Protection Agency’s controversial cross-state air pollution rule be stayed — to the delight of Texas officials and the chagrin of environmentalists. The rule, which sought to reduce sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions from power […]

Fix those leaks

We lost a lot of water this year, which seems like an especially undesirable thing during a record drought. At the peak of this year’s record drought, the city of Houston lost more than 18 billion gallons of water through a system that was leaking like a sieve, amounting to tens of millions of dollars […]

County sues over dioxin

More like this, please. Harris County has filed a lawsuit in state court to recover hundreds of millions of dollars from local waste management companies and a Pasadena paper factory responsible for storage of a human carcinogen that has leaked into the San Jacinto River. Named as defendants in the action, which seeks penalties of […]

TCEQ denies Valero tax break

Good. Texas environmental regulators have rejected Valero Energy Corp.’s request for a tax break that cities, counties and school districts feared would lead to devastating cuts to their budgets. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality denied the request because the San Antonio-based oil giant could not show an environmental benefit at its six Texas refineries […]

Giving tax breaks to those that don’t need them

You can add this to the list of things schools might have to pay for that they don’t have the money to pay for. Three environmental commissioners appointed by Gov. Rick Perry are considering whether to grant some of the nation’s largest refineries a tax refund of more than $135 million money Texas’ cash-strapped schools […]

TCEQ a no-show at EPA hearing

They’d rather sue than engage. At the hearing in a hotel ballroom, Al Armendariz, the EPA’s regional administrator for Texas and five adjacent states, said the federal agency prefers to let the state issue the permits, as it does for other air pollutants. “This isn’t a program that we want to implement for years,” Armendariz […]

Here comes the EPA

The EPA has seized control of the permitting process in Texas for refineries, power plants, and the like. In a letter sent this week to state regulators, an EPA official wrote that 167 facilities in Texas – many of them power plants and oil refineries – would come under the rules. As of Jan. 2, […]