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FW: Mothers for Clean Air

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  • Ewert, Mike
    ... From: Jane Laping [mailto:mfca@socrates.hern.org] Sent: Wednesday, June 14, 2000 3:05 PM To: Jane L. Laping Subject: Mothers for Clean Air The next four
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 14, 2000
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      -----Original Message-----
      From: Jane Laping [mailto:mfca@...]
      Sent: Wednesday, June 14, 2000 3:05 PM
      To: Jane L. Laping
      Subject: Mothers for Clean Air

      The next four weeks are a once in twelve-year opportunity for you to say what you think about the job the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC) is doing to protect our environment. Each Texas state agency is reviewed once every 10-12 years by the Texas Legislature’s Sunset Advisory Commission to recommend whether the agency should continue to exist and if it should, how the agency could better fulfill its mission. Your participation is needed within the next 4 weeks to balance the input from paid industry lobbyists.

      The Sunset Advisory Commission has reviewed the TNRCC and prepared a 175-page report of issues and recommendations. www.sunset.state.tx.us Although long, the report is very interesting to read. The Sunset Commission did an excellent job of research, analysis, and recommending changes. It documents a lot of the inequities that we hear about but don’t know if we should believe. Mothers for Clean Air has summarized specific points below, so you don’t have to read the whole report.

      You are invited to respond to the Sunset Advisory Commission recommendations and voice your general concerns about the TNRCC, in person or in writing. These recommendations are what the hearing will be based on, and you should try to tie your specific complaints to the issues raised in the report. Testimonies of personal experiences are most powerful. Written comments should be sent to the Sunset Advisory Commission, P.O. Box 13066, Austin, TX 787111; or (512)463-0705 (fax); or submitted under "How to Participate" at www.sunset.state.tx.us The Sunset Advisory Commission will hold a public hearing in Austin on June 20 and June 21 at the Capitol in Austin in room E1.030, beginning at 9:00AM until approximately 6:00PM. There will also be an environmental rally at noon on June 21 on the Capitol steps (free lunch provided). Call 713/526-0110 if you need a ride to and from Austin on June 21.

      The TNRCC Sunset Review is a very important opportunity to emphasize the importance of clean air for the Houston-Galveston area. Plan to attend the hearing in Austin and voice your comments, of if you cannot come, send your written comments to the address above. MfCA has prepared the following 5 major points to make in your comments to the Sunset Advisory Commission, based on their TNRCC Sunset Staff Report. Remember to include your personal experience.

      1. Regulation, Permitting, and Enforcement: TNRCC has not been consistent in regulating companies and needs to develop policies based on performance. A company’s past performance, including in locations other than Texas, must be considered in deciding permitting and enforcement matters. Companies with poor compliance histories should not be given future permits until they become better performers for a specified amount of time. Only high performers should be allowed to participate in innovative regulatory programs such as regulatory flexibility, supplemental environmental projects (SEPs), and flexible permits.

      When permits are up for review, impacts of multiple sources within a designated area need to be considered. If other sources are located within a certain radius, these must be calculated with the impact of the emissions from the facility under permit review.

      2. Inspections. All regulated companies should receive unannounced annual inspections until they prove they are environmentally responsible companies. Companies with chronic upsets should receive inspections more frequently than those with fewer upsets.

      The data on chronic upsets in 1998 and 1999 is very disturbing when one considers the thousands of individuals living near these entities. Further investigation of companies with chronic upsets is warranted, and records of occurrence times need to be kept which include nights and weekends.

      3. Research. More research on air quality in the Houston-Galveston area is needed, given the millions of persons living here whose health is affected. For example, the lack of a sufficient understanding of ozone formation in the past resulted in ineffective regulations on volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and an unnecessary use of funds and time. A regional solution to Houston-Galveston air quality with well-coordinated research is needed and has been successfully implemented in California by the California Air Resources Board.

      4. Public Participation: The agency must be made more accountable to the public. TNRCC needs to represent public interests in rulemaking and not those of the polluter. The Commissioners should be appointed based on their interest in public health and not in the profits of regulated companies. Citizens need to be given representation on advisory and working groups, and TNRCC effort and resources must be given equally to citizens and regulated companies.

      The TNRCC’s first responsibility should be to protect the public health of its citizens and its natural resources, and secondly to provide economic vitality.

      5. Funding: In order for TNRCC to be able to carry out the above-mentioned activities, the agency must be adequately funded. Additional funding by the Texas Legislature is necessary to achieve the environmental improvements necessary for the Houston-Galveston area to become a world-class city, capable of attracting experienced and educated employees, and able to maintain a healthy environment for future generations. An adequate budget is necessary for sufficient inspections of regulated companies, investigation of upsets, and 24-hour staff to respond to citizen complaints in a timely manner.

       

      Jane L. Laping
      Mothers for Clean Air
      3015 Richmond, Suite 270
      Houston, TX 77098
      713/526-0110; 713/526-0550 fax
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