For More Information: Ken Kramer, 512-476-6962 (office), 512-626-4204 (cell)
of Ken Kramer, Director, Lone Star Chapter of the
Sierra Club, on ANOTHER Proposed Chisum Assault
on the Contested Case Process
– This Time ELIMINATING the Opportunity for Contested
Cases on Amendments to Control Mercury and Other Hazardous
Air Pollutants from Coal-Fired Power Plants (Another Pre-Filed
Amendment to TCEQ Sunset Legislation)
“State Rep. Warren Chisum is seeking to hitch a ride on the TCEQ sunset legislation for one of his other stalled House bills (House Bill 3251). This Chisum bill – now resurrected as a proposed amendment to the sunset bill – would eliminate the opportunity for a contested case process by which Texans may seek adequate protection for their communities and families from mercury and other hazardous air pollutants from coal-fired power plants.
“This Chisum proposal would relegate ‘public participation’ in air pollution permit amendments for electric generating plants to a public review and comment process and a public ‘hearing’ where community residents could come and vent their concerns about the permit amendment – but without any leverage to pressure the permit applicant to negotiate improvements to the permit amendment.
“Rep. Chisum will say this is the type of process that the U.S. EPA uses for permits and permit amendments that they issue, and he is right in that respect. The contested case opportunity is one of positive aspects of the pollution control process in Texas, a process preferable to the public participation approach for EPA-issued permits. It’s amazing but perhaps not surprising that some of the officials so quick to criticize EPA for enforcing strong pollution control requirements want to adopt the less effective EPA public participation process for permit actions in Texas.
“This Chisum amendment arises because – as a result of a U.S. Supreme Court decision a couple of years ago – coal-fired power plants and other electric generating facilities are going to have to meet stronger standards (‘MACT’ or ‘maximum achievable control technology’ standards) under the federal Clean Air Act for controlling ‘hazardous air pollutants’ such as mercury and toxics. That will require amendments to current air permits. Rep. Chisum wants to do away with the opportunity for a contested case on those specific permit amendments. Doing so, however, would remove
the ability of citizens to make sure that those hazardous
air pollutant control standards are as protective of their
health and their environment as they need to be. Texans need to retain that leverage of a contested case process to get coal plant operators to the table to agree to tighter air pollution protections or to get TCEQ officials to require truly protective emission limits.”
Note: This Chisum amendment, similar to his other amendment to undermine the contested case opportunity for all pollution control permits, will be proposed for House Bill 2694, the legislation that will continue the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), which is set for House floor debate Tuesday.
Alliance for a Clean
Network of 26 state-wide organizations representing over a quarter million
Texans. ACT member groups are united behind four legislative priorities
for a cleaner, healthier environment and a sustainable economy.
Texas Legislature Voting Records, 1993-2009 are available in PDF format.
Studies focusing on the voting records of the individual members of the Texas Legislature. A short narrative describes the bills tracked by the Sierra Club and each legislator's recorded votes.