Groups File Lawsuit Against Texas for Inaction on Air Permits

AUSTIN, TEXAS – Four environmental groups filed a lawsuit today in state district court in Austin against the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.  The state environmental agency missed its legal deadlines to take action on eight air pollution permits.  The lawsuit was filed by the nonprofit Environmental Integrity Project on behalf of itself, the Sierra Club, Air Alliance Houston, and Texas Campaign for the Environment.

The lawsuit seeks a court order to force the state agency to take action and either issue or deny Clean Air Act permits for the following facilities:

American Electric Power Company’s Welsh coal power plant in Titus County;

  • BP’s Texas City oil refinery near Houston;
  • Motiva’s Port Arthur oil refinery;
  • ExxonMobil’s Baytown oil refinery near Houston;
  • Koch Industries’ Flint Hills East oil refinery in Corpus Christi;
  • BP Amoco’s Texas City chemical plant near Houston;
  • Luminant’s  (formerly TXU) Oak Grove coal power plant in Robertson County; and
  • Sandy Creek coal power plant, near Waco.

Gabriel Clark-Leach, Attorney, Environmental Integrity Project said: “Air pollution permits are supposed to protect public health.  These companies all filed their applications on time and the state environmental regulators have been sitting on these applications for years, without taking final action.  We are dealing with air pollution permits that have a fixed term of five years, and some of them have been expired for longer than that.  So, we are asking a court to tell the TCEQ to do its job.”

Neil Carman, Clean Air Director, Sierra Club Lone Star Chapter said:  “Coal-fired power plants, oil refineries, and petrochemical plants are among the largest sources of air pollution for most Texas communities.  These industries release smog-forming pollutants that contribute to our state’s persistent ozone problems, and they also release the dangerous air toxics that cause hot spots in localized areas.  By failing to either issue or deny these air permits, the TCEQ lets the companies keep operating while keeping the public in the dark.”

Adrian Shelley, Executive Director, Air Alliance Houston said: “Texas shows once again that it places business interests above public health protections. By failing to issue or deny these permits, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is disregarding the law and failing in its mission to protect Texans and their environment.”

Robin Schneider, Executive Director, Texas Campaign for the Environment said: “We should not have to file a lawsuit simply to force the state environmental agency to do its job.  By failing to act on these expired air pollution permits, the TCEQ is denying Texans our right to know how much air pollution industries are allowed to release into the air we breathe.”

For a copy of the lawsuit, click here.

About the Groups:

The Environmental Integrity Project is a nonprofit dedicated to the vigorous enforcement of anti-pollution laws, including the public’s right to know and to participate in air pollution permits that affect health and air quality.

The Sierra Club is the nation’s oldest environmental membership group.  The Sierra Club’s mission is to explore, enjoy, and protect the wild places of the Earth, to practice and promote the responsible use of the Earth’s resources and ecosystems; to educate and enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment; and to use all lawful means to carry out those objectives.

Air Alliance Houston is Houston’s clean air and public health nonprofit advocacy organization. Their vision is clean air so our economy, quality of life, and children can thrive.

Texas Campaign for the Environment is a nonprofit statewide membership organization dedicated to informing and mobilizing Texans to protect their health, their community, and the environment.