Industrial Emissions Regulation and Enforcement
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.
ETHYLENE OXIDE (EtO)
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.
TOXIC EMISSIONS FROM FOSSIL FUEL FACILITIES
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.
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