Feds To Meet Thursday On Clean Air Guidelines
by: David Pitman, October 7, 2009 8:10:06 pm
This is the first meeting since the Environmental Protection Agency declared last month that key parts of the state's air pollution permitting program should be thrown out.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality disagrees, saying its permitting program complies with federal law.
Matthew Tejada is the executive director of the Galveston-Houston Association for Smog Prevention. He plans to ask the EPA during the meeting in Austin to order a wholesale revision of the state's implementation plan -- which is essentially the blueprint Texas uses to enforce clean air rules.
"So instead of piece-mealing the process, and saying 'well let's fix these three things now, and maybe another three things next year,' we're gonna be advocating for 'no, call the entire state implementation plan in, and have the EPA and TCEQ work out a better approach to air quality in the state of Texas.'"
For years, environmental groups have criticized the state's pollution permits as a mere formality for massive polluters. Tejeda says the ultimate goal is to have a permitting process that is transparent, consistent, and accountable to the public.
"I'm not saying that TCEQ doesn't protect health and the environment, but we think they can do a much better job of it. And one of the things that is impeding them from fulfilling their mission to the fullest extent is Texas' air permitting program."
Tejeda says he's hoping for an open and honest dialogue with industry leaders and TCEQ officials about the problems he says need to be fixed right away.