Industrial Emissions Regulation and Enforcement

The Houston area’s high concentration of and lax regulatory environment around industry, combined with the historical practice of building toxic facilities in floodplains and near residential areas, puts community health and safety at risk. This situation is worsened by state and federal policymakers that cater to corporate special interests by engaging in coordinated efforts to encourage fossil fuel expansion and codify minimal accountability for polluters.

97% of company-reported illegal emissions go unpenalized by the TCEQ.

What We're Doing

Strong accountability of polluters begins with strong air quality standards and their enforcement. We routinely respond in writing, with testimony, and in our calls to action to proposed air quality-related permits, regulations, rules for implementation, enforcement patterns, and determinations of adherence that are developed by both the local Texas regulator (TCEQ) and the U.S.Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Strong enforcement of the Clean Air Act (CAA) and of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) is always a high priority.

Here are some of our priority community health concerns:

The absence of zoning laws in Houston and lack of state regulation means concrete batch plants, landfills, metal recyclers and more can open almost anywhere in the city. The over-concentration of these types of facilities in Houston’s communities of color and lower-income neighborhoods negatively affects the health and disrupts the peace of residents. They can emit harmful air pollutants that can contribute to respiratory issues, create significant noise pollution and generate truck traffic on residential streets. It’s time for this to change. 

Texas accounts for nearly half of the entire country’s EtO output, with at least 27 facilities emitting more than 48 tons of this known carcinogen every year. Twelve facilities are located right on the Ship Channel, including in Pasadena, La Porte, and Channelview. These facilities inflict a disproportionate burden on fenceline communities. Breathing air contaminated with EtO can increase your risk of breast cancer and various lymphoid cancers. In their most recent published study from 2016, the EPA concluded that EtO is, in fact, 30 times more carcinogenic than they had previously thought.

There has been a pattern of inaction across state and federal agencies meant to protect communities from pollution from petrochemical plants and refineries, storage and export terminals, and other oil and gas infrastructure. New permits for facilities that violate air pollution laws are frequently rubber-stamped and companies face little to no repercussions for illegally polluting environments. An investigation by the Environmental Integrity Project found that the TCEQ issued penalties for less than 3 percent of unauthorized air pollution releases from 2011 to 2016. These failures make already vulnerable communities more at risk for health-harming pollution and chemical incidents.

Read about our air permit notification system and check out our air permit notification map.

RE: Comments on Intercontinental Terminals Company LLC’s Renewal of Federal Operating Permit O1061 – September, 23

RE: Celanese Ltd. Federal Operating Permit No. O1986, Application No. 33188 at 9502 Bayport Blvd, Pasadena, TX 77507-1402 – September 2, 2022

RE: Air Quality Standard Permit for Concrete Batch Plants Proposed Registration No. 157195 for Rocket Materials LLC at 914 Pinafore Lane, Houston, Harris County, Texas – July 29, 2022

RE: Comments in Response to Notice of a Renewal of Federal Operating Permit No. O106, Application No. 32790 – July 20, 2022

RE: Comments on Lyondell Chemical Company Air Quality Permit Number 83817 at 2502 Sheldon Road, Channelview, Harris County, Texas 77530 – July 6, 2022

RE: Comments on Pasadena Refining System, Inc. Air Quality Permit Numbers 20246, 56389, and 80804 at 111 Red Bluff Road, Pasadena, Harris County, Texas 77506, May 27, 2022

RE: Comments Valero Refining-Texas Air Quality Permit Number 2501A, at 9701 Manchester St Houston, Harris County, Texas 77012 – April 28, 2022

RE: Comments on the TCEQ Public Participation and Language Access Plan – March 17, 2022

RE: Comments Air Quality Standard Permit for Concrete Batch Plants Proposed Registration No. 167453 for Avant Garde Construction Co at 10945 Eastex Freeway , Houston, Harris County Texas, 77093 – February 14, 2022

RE: Comments on The TCEQ Sunset Review – January 3, 2022

RE: Comments on Intercontinental Terminals Company LLC’s Proposed Renewal of Federal Operating Permit O3785 – December 9, 2021

RE: Comments on Three Permit Applications Submitted by the TPC Group LLC to Authorize the Butadiene Expansion Project at TPC’s Houston Plant (Permit Nos. 22052, 46307, and 46426) – August 10, 2021 

AAH signs on to a letter to the Chemical Safety Board, calling for reforms – July 8, 2021

AAH’s supporting testimony on HB 1820 to the Environmental Regulation Committee during the 87th Texas Legislative Session – April 12, 2021 (live recording)

AAH’s supporting testimony on HB 2974 to the Environmental Regulation Committee during the 87th Texas Legislative Session – April 26, 2021 (written) | Watch the live recording

AAH’s supporting testimony on HB 3477 to the Environmental Regulation Committee during the 87th Texas Legislative Session – April 26, 2021 (live recording)

RE: INTERCONTINENTAL TERMINALS COMPANY LLC, Air Quality Permit Number 95754 – January 12, 2021