How Texas polluters classify big facilities as smaller ones to avoid stricter environmental rules and public input
Industrial developers describe large facilities as “minor” polluters to avoid federal permitting requirements, and environmental lawyers say the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality lets it happen.
Texas quietly moves to formalize acceptable cancer risk from industrial air pollution. Public health officials say it’s not strict enough.
Without public hearings, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is proposing to adopt its 17-year-old standard that scientists and public health officials say fails to account for cumulative air pollution.
For Texans, fighting state-regulated oilfield waste dumps can be a costly, do-it-yourself effort
Some Texans who challenge oil and gas waste sites must spend significant sums and time on investigating what they say the Texas Railroad Commission should examine. Will new regulations for handling waste increase oversight or just maintain the status quo?
The “1-mile rule”: Texas’ unwritten, arbitrary policy protects big polluters from citizen complaints
It’s not found anywhere in state law or the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s rules, but for years the agency has denied citizens the ability to challenge air pollution permits because they live more than a mile away.
EPA will decide if the state is doing enough to reduce pollution in two East Texas counties
The federal agency has settled a lawsuit the Sierra Club brought over pollution from a coal-burning power plant. The agreement requires the EPA to weigh in on the state’s plan to improve air quality in Rusk and Panola counties.
Texas House moves to crack down on polluters with stricter penalties and heavier oversight
The bill would require the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to focus enforcement and increase penalties on repeat violators and increase public outreach. Still, environmental advocates say the effort was too “modest” in its reach.
Houston-area chemical fire highlights gaps in Texas environmental enforcement
A fire broke out at a Deer Park Shell plant the day after a public hearing on renewing the permit for ITC, a nearby facility that caught fire in 2019, sparking a Texas Tribune/Public Health Watch investigation that documented failures in state and federal oversight.
At a heated public hearing, residents urge state agency to reject permit for chemical facility that burned in 2019
In Deer Park near Houston, memories of the massive ITC fire are still fresh. Residents told state environmental regulators they should reject the company’s permit renewal, but officials said the fire won’t be part of the decision.
For years, the EPA and Texas ignored warning signs at a chemical storage site. Then an inferno erupted.
Regulators repeatedly documented — but did little to address — problems at a Houston-area tank farm. Then on March 17, 2019, a fire blew through a corner of the facility, releasing toxic chemicals into nearby communities for weeks.
Senator’s bill would fine Texans for multiple environmental complaints that don’t lead to enforcement
The bill would impose fines when residents make more than three complaints to the state environmental agency in a year if they don’t result in enforcement action. Critics warn the bill would discourage people from reporting pollution.
Environmental group says Texas fails to hold repeat polluters accountable for unexpected emissions
A new report found that companies in Texas have had 21,000 unexpected pollution releases that emitted 400,000 tons of air pollution over six years, but only 1% of them prompted action by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
Environmental advocates push feds to investigate Texas’ enforcement of water quality
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plans to investigate allegations that the state is failing to enforce the Clean Water Act. Environmentalists say the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s system of issuing permits has made it too easy for industries to contaminate rivers, lakes and estuaries.
Texans affected by pollution from concrete plants push state agency to tighten regulations
As the state’s environmental agency weighs new pollution limits on the plants, several lawmakers have filed bills that would put new restrictions on the facilities, which spew pollutants into mostly low-income neighborhoods.
After cancer-causing chemicals were found in Fifth Ward soil, Houston mayor says cleanup plans are inadequate
The city’s health department found dioxins in soil samples along the fence line of a Union Pacific rail yard. Mayor Sylvester Turner said during the 2022 Texas Tribune Festival that plans to clean up the contamination should now include relocating residents.
Texas regulators proposed cracking down on harmful plastic “nurdles” — and then changed their minds
The Texas coast is a hot spot for “nurdle” pollution, tiny plastic pellets created in the process of producing everyday products. But a plan to require proactive prevention of their release has been scrapped.
Smog levels in Texas surge during heat wave, bringing worst summer air quality in a decade
Emissions are reacting with the summer heat to create high levels of smog, hazardous air pollution that damages the lungs. But state officials are pushing back on ozone pollution controls proposed by the EPA, arguing such rules would compromise the electric grid.