April 13, 2000
- WHY IS
DALLAS-FT. WORTH SO SMOGGY?
Thanks to Environmental
Regulation — Texas Style
Austin...Half of the industrial air pollution in the Dallas/Ft. Worth
metropolitan area comes from a single plant that has received extraordinary
lenience from Texas state regulators, according to documents released
today by Texas Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (Texas
PEER). Texas Industries (TXI) operates one of the nation's largest
hazardous waste incinerators, about 30 miles southwest of Dallas,
and has dramatically increased its air emissions with the permission
of the Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission (TNRCC). The
TNRCC, Texas's primary pollution control agency, is headed by a three
member board that includes former TXI lobbyist and spokesman for the
Texas Chemical Council, Ralph Marquez, who was appointed to that position
by Texas Governor George W. Bush.
Despite smog problems that have caused the Dallas/Ft. Worth air basin
to be categorized as an air quality non-attainment area, state officials
gave TXI license to more than double their toxic releases into the
atmosphere. The TXI cement complex in the tiny town of Midlothian
burns hazardous waste as fuel. This combustion process releases a
witch's brew of chemicals — 11,000 tons of chromium, 7,000 pounds
of benzene and 3,000 pounds of toluene are part of the more than 35,000
tons of smog-producing chemicals emitted by the plant each year.
As an older facility, TXI is "grandfathered" (i.e., exempt), under
a Texas law sponsored by Governor Bush, from having to meet stringent
Clean Air Act requirements. In addition to exemptions for cleaning
up existing operations, TXI has been allowed to expand its operations
and pollution emissions by the TNRCC.
In spite of promises to recuse himself from dealing on TXI matters,
Marquez has acted both officially and behind closed doors on behalf
of the facility to extend air pollution permits, raise emission limits
and downplay findings of danger to the public health of nearby populations.
Marquez was recently quoted by Reuters News Service as saying, "I
think the Governor does have a commitment to the environment, though
it is one of those areas he doesn't often verbalize."
"If Governor Bush was evidencing his concern for the environment by
appointing Ralph Marquez to the TNRCC, then heaven help Texas," commented
Texas PEER Coordinator Erin Rogers. "TXI is a classic case of inside
dealing to perpetrate a monstrous act of environmental malpractice."
| PEER PRESSure
| Search |
· P.O. Box 1522; Austin TX ·
441-4941 · txpeer@PEER.org