TCEQ, State's Clean-Air "Watchdog," About To Be Sued Over A Local Plant

As the Houston Press has written about, and as the Obama administration has determined, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is a pretty lax watchdog.

Now they're going to get sued over it.

A coalition of clean-air groups has served formal notice that they intend to sue TCEQ for giving a "flexible permit" to a coal-fired power plant halfway between Austin and Houston.

"In Texas, air pollution permits are flexible alright - flexible enough to allow coal-fired power plants like the Fayette [County] plant avoid tougher federal emission limits, violate the weaker substitute standards offered by the Texas regulators, and short-change Texas taxpayers by failing to pay fees that are supposed to be used to improve air quality," said Ilan Levin, director of Environmental Integrity's Texas office. 

That group, along with Texas Campaign for the Environment and Environment Texas, filed the notice today.

The cite "10,000 violations of the Clean Air Act" and say the plant also broke the law "by ramping up capacity and increasing levels of dangerous particle pollution without making required pollution control upgrades."

The plant, near LaGrange, is run by the Lower Colorado River Authority.

Earlier this year the federal Environmental Protection Agency informed Texas that its flexible-permit rules did not meet standards for fighting air pollution and needed to be reformed. Governor Rick Perry blasted the EPA, saying the changes being proposed would kill jobs, and that Texas does a fine job policing its own air.

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Richard Connelly
Contact: Richard Connelly