Proposed Coke-fired Power Plant recommended for denial twice by State Administrative Law Judges because of high air pollution
(Austin) The Sierra Club, Public Citizen, SEED Coalition, and Corpus Christi’s Clean Economy Coalition demand that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) follow the law tomorrow and reject an illegal air pollution permit that was twice recommended for denial by independent State Administrative Law Judges. The three, Perry-appointed Commissioners of the TCEQ are slated to make their decision tomorrow about the controversial project proposed by Las Brisas Energy Center, LLC. The project proposes to site one of the largest coke-fired plants in a highly populated area in Corpus Christi, Texas.
“I live in Corpus Christi and I deserve
to enjoy the protections of the Clean Air Act just
like every other American,” said Hal Suter. Suter serves as the Volunteer Chair of the statewide Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club. “Chairman
Shaw and the other Perry-appointed commissioners
have already ignored the recommendations of their
own judges once by sending this application back
for further review rather than denying it the first
time around. We pray they will see fit to follow
the law tomorrow and deny the Las Brisas air pollution
In a contested case hearing process, State Judges identified major flaws in the permit application that proposed the plant be allowed to emit high levels of multiple toxic substances like mercury and particulate matter. Those same judges already recommended that the TCEQ deny this permit once. Rather than follow that recommendation, the TCEQ Commissioners sent the application back for further review. Upon this second review, the Judges again found multiple deficiencies and could not recommend that this permit be issued as drafted. The Commissioners will decide whether to follow that recommendation or grant the permit tomorrow at 9:30 am at the TCEQ Headquarters - Room 201S, Bldg E, 12100 Park 35 Circle, Austin Texas.
“The Las Brisas proposal would mean more pollution than all of Corpus Christi’s
existing refineries combined,” said Karen Hadden with the Sustainable Energy for Economic Development (SEED) Coalition. “The
people of Corpus Christi already suffer higher than average
rates of asthma and birth defects than other people in this
state. The toxic soup that Las Brisas would emit right near
the downtown area would mean more premature deaths, birth
defects, and illness in this already beleaguered community.”
In addition to those problems, the Las Brisas proposal faces an additional administrative burden forced on it by Governor Perry’s refusal to follow federal law. Rather than receive a green house gas permit from TCEQ, the company must obtain a greenhouse gas permit from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency before it can begin construction. The Las Brisas proposal is the first pollution permit to be considered by the Commissioners since the EPA’s recent decision to manage greenhouse gas (GHG) permits in the state.
“The EPA stepped in because Perry and the TCEQ have
not been doing their job to protect citizens in this state
from coal-fired plants and industrial polluters,” said Tom “Smitty” Smith of Public Citizen. “The
Las Brisas proposal is the last of almost two dozen, coal
and, in this case, coke plants proposed in Texas since 2005.
Texas citizens have had significant success in stopping much
of the coal rush in our state.”
Of the 22 coal or coke-fired power plants proposed since 2005 –
• 3 have been built;
• 3 are under construction;
• 9 have been withdrawn;
• 1 is likely to be cancelled;
• 6 have been permitted, are not yet under construction and probably will never be built since coal is so much more expensive than wind or natural gas; and,
The Las Brisas plant permit remains undecided.
“Texas is at an energy crossroads and its time for
Governor Perry and his appointed Commissioners to wake up
and look around. This is the end of the Texas coal rush and
the end of the coal era,” said Jen Powis with Sierra Club. “For too long, TCEQ has been acting as Governor Perry’s rubber stamp on these illegal coal plants and have been ignoring the recommendations of their own judges. TCEQ and Las Brisas must be made to follow the law. If Perry and the TCEQ won’t
do it tomorrow, then the EPA must.”
On Wednesday, January 26, Corpus Christi residents and leadership of the Clean Economy Coalition, Sierra Club, and Public Citizen will be available for interviews immediately following the TCEQ Commissioners’ Las Brisas decision. The Commissioners are expected to take up the Las Brisas decision early on the Agenda which begins at 9:30 AM at the TCEQ Headquarters - Room 201S, Bldg E, 12100 Park 35 Circle, Austin Texas.