Air Pollution

Oct. 3, 2015

By Sara Sneath
Victoria Advocate

The Environmental Protection Agency has identified Coleto Creek and 11 other coal-fired power plants in the state as high sulfur dioxide emitters.
Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA is required to set air quality standards for sulfur dioxide, which can cause respiratory illnesses, harm the environment and damage property.

In 2010, the agency revised its national air quality standard for the pollutant. Now, the agency is collecting monitoring data from 12 coal-fired power plants in the state that the agency found emit large amounts of sulfur dioxide.

The data will be used to determine if the areas where the plants are located meet the new air quality standard, Joe Hubbard, agency spokesman, wrote in an email last week.

If the area around Coleto Creek Power Plant is found to have levels of sulfur dioxide that make it unhealthy to breathe, the agency would designate the area as nonattainment, and the plant would likely be required to take costly measures to cut down on its emissions.

The designation could be detrimental to taxpayers and workers in Goliad County, where the plant is located, said Goliad County Judge Pat Calhoun. The power plant provides about 43 percent of the tax base in the county.

"I’m concerned that the EPA, as proven by the fact that it was already slapped down at the Supreme Court level over the Waters of the U.S., is overreaching it’s authority," he said. "I’m concerned they will go in and cherry pick data to achieve a preconceived outcome. This administration has proven that it’s against fossil fuel." The company projects that installing sulfur dioxide scrubbers or converting the plant to natural gas could cost more than $100 million, wrote Julie Vitek, a company spokeswoman, in an email.

"Clearly, the options for compliance depend on the determination of the EPA as to whether Goliad County is an attainment zone or not," she wrote. "Our data shows the county more than meets the EPA standard, and that’s why we are eagerly awaiting the agency’s determination."

But nearby neighbors say they’re already paying the price of sulfur dioxide emissions. Charlie Faupel, who owns a ranch near the plant, said sulfur dioxide has damaged hundreds of trees on his property.

"They’ve been doing this more than 30 years. I’ve lost hundreds of trees, and my neighbors have lost thousands," he said. "A few of the trash trees went first. Nobody cares much about a hackberry and they started dying. Then, white oaks and pecans." The harmful effects sulfur dioxide can cause to trees has been documented, said Neil Carman, who formerly worked for the state environmental agency and now heads the Texas chapter of the Sierra Club’s clean air program.

Carman studied pecan crop losses around a coal-fired power plant in Fayette County. In a 2010 report, Carman noted that Fayette-area pecan growers suffered devastating crop losses and economic harm as a result of the Fayette plant’s era of burning coal without using sulfur dioxide scrubbers.

The Coleto Creek plant could be hurting trees, Calhoun said. But forcing the plant to switch to a renewable energy source or install scrubbers isn’t within the county’s authority. And, if the plant determined that it was no longer economically feasible to operate in Goliad County, the county would be forced to cut some services or double the tax rate.

"I’m trying to look out for the citizens of Goliad County," Calhoun said. "It’s just proven that this administration doesn’t like coal, and it’s going to do what it can to do away with it."

Read letter to Judge Calhoun from the EPA.

Top emissions
These are the Texas electric power plant sources exceeding the emissions thresholds established by court order of 16,000 tons of sulfur dioxide emitted in 2012, or 2,600 tons of sulfur dioxide emitted in 2012 with an average emission rate of at least 0.45 pounds sulfur dioxide per mmBtu:

  • Monticello Steam Electric Station
  • Optim Energy Twin Oaks Power Station
  • Limestone Generating Station
  • Luminant Sandow Yorktown Power Plant
  • Coleto Creek Power Station
  • San Miguel Electric
  • Tolk Generating Station
  • Luminant Power Plant at Martin Lake
  • Big Brown Power Plant
  • Harrington Generating Station
  • W A Parish Electric Generating Station
  • Sandy Creek Energy Station

Read more: Coleto Creek Power in legal battle over appraisal

Fair Use Notice
This document contains copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. SEED Coalition is making this article available in our efforts to advance understanding of ecological sustainability, human rights, economic democracy and social justice issues. We believe that this constitutes a "fair use" of the copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond "fair use", you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

JULY 27, 2011

BY: GINA CARROLL
The Examiner

We Texans love to be number one. We like to say, "don’t mess with Texas" and "everything’s big in Texas." These sayings embody our pride in our state and our collective spirit to do things well and right and for the greatest possible impact. This winning attitude is often evident on Texas athletic fields, in Texas board rooms and with regard to our stellar reputation in philanthropy.

pollution

But we excel at some things that do not at all reflect well on us. Texas ranks number one among all states for its mercury pollution and we are first in the entire nation in mercury pollution from power plants. I recently wrote about the fact that Texas is on the "Toxic 20" List of the most polluted states. The fact that Texas ranks #13 is misleading. Being #13 on the pollution short list is terrible. And still, this ranking does not even begin to disclose the trouble we are in here in Texas.

As far as pollution is concerned, mercury is some of the nastiest and most harmful! Mercury is a highly potent neurotoxin that poses especially serious risks to pregnant women and infants. Mercury can damage brain development; cause learning disabilities; result in language disorders and memory problems; and impair vision and hearing.

Over 400,000 newborns in the United States are exposed to mercury levels that can cause this kind of damage. Since Texas’ mercury emissions account for a whopping 85% of all state mercury air pollution, it follows that Texas polluters are exacting the most damage upon infants and children. In addition, adult exposure to mercury is associated with heart disease and other cardiovascular illnesses. (Learn more about mercury HERE)

This is not the kind of record we Texans should want to maintain, nor we parents want to subject our families to. Many of us feel helpless in the face of such an enormous hurdle as cleaning up our air. But there are lots of ways to make an impact. And we must. It’s time to take our Texas can-do spirit and stand up to polluters. The first necessary act is to arm yourself with the facts—

Check out this article to learn more about the fight in Texas to stem pollution from coal-fired plants- Dispatches from the front(s): Texas’ multifaceted coal war rumbles on

Below are local Houston organizations that are working to clean up the air and make polluters take responsibility. Join them, spread the word. Taking action to make Texas a safe place for our children and our children’s children is a vital part of our job as parents!

Air Alliance Houston – This is the organization that merged with Moms For Clean Air. They still utilize mothers as activists and community liaisons.

CLEAN (Citizens League for Environmental Action) Houston- The CLEAN website offers lots of information and ways to act.

Clean Air Action– Clean Air Action and Commute Solutions Houston focus mostly on vehicle emissions and alternative fuels. Check out there calendar of events.

Commute Solutions Houston

Then when you are all informed and furious about the poor quality of your air and how it is making Texas kids sick and poorly functioning, JOIN Mom’s Clean Air Force. Send the message–DON”T MESS WITH TEXAS MOMS! Go HERE to join.

Fair Use Notice
This document contains copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. SEED Coalition is making this article available in our efforts to advance understanding of ecological sustainability, human rights, economic democracy and social justice issues. We believe that this constitutes a "fair use" of the copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond "fair use", you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Wednesday, Sept achat viagra paris. 21, 2011

By Patrick Beach, Staff
Austin American Statesman

Austin is in the middle of its worst smog season in five years, and Texas has seven of the smoggiest metropolitan areas in the country, according to an environmental study released Wednesday.

The Capital Area Council of Governments has recorded eight high-ozone days in the Austin area this year; the smog season lasts until the end of October. If Austin exceeds national standards again, it will join Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston on the list of Texas metro areas to have fallen out of compliance with the federal Clean Air Act. This year’s ozone levels are the worst since 2006, when the area recorded 18 days of ozone more than 75 parts per billion.

In addition to pollution from coal-fired energy plants and refineries, a lot of the blame for the smog lies with Austin traffic. And the wildfires that broke out Labor Day weekend might have been a contributing factor, said Luke Metzger, director of Environment Texas, a group that advocates clean air, water and green spaces.

Regulators look at the fourth-most-polluted day each year in three consecutive years. If ozone concentrations on those three days average more than 75 parts per billion, a region falls out of compliance with the Clean Air Act. Noncompliant areas face stringent restrictions and a risk of losing federal highway dollars. Austin has previously come close to noncompliance but has been able to avoid violating the federal rule.

"Texans deserve to breathe clean air," Metzger said. "For the sake of our children, we must make every day a safe day to breathe."

Environment Texas’ report, "Danger in the Air: Unhealthy Air Days in 2010 and 2011," said Texas had 48 days in 2010 when smog levels exceeded national standards somewhere in the state. Houston, which had 27 smoggy days, ranked sixth among the nation’s smoggiest large metropolitan areas in 2010, Metzger said. The Austin-San Marcos area had three smog days that year.

Dr. Elliot Trester of Austin Physicians for Social Responsibility said that young people, the elderly and fetuses are at risk for serious and potentially lifelong complications when exposed to high levels of smog. Trester said he’d like to see the limit set near 60 parts per billion, a level the Environmental Protection Agency signaled it was considering in 2009.

The Austin area has not seen ozone levels unhealthy for the general population, levels of 95 parts per billion and above, since 2002, officials said.

Today, the Texas House State Affairs committee will hold a hearing on EPA rules, including the Cross State Air Pollution Rule, which requires reductions of smog from power plants. In July, the EPA issued the rules, which require states to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, which mostly come from coal-fired power plants. One of the largest Texas electricity producers threatened to shut down two plants and lay off hundreds of workers if the rules were enforced.

This month, in a move that environmentalists blasted as a concession to big polluters, President Barack Obama asked the EPA to put on hold plans to further restrict mercury emissions from power plants and carbon from cars and trucks. Oil and gas industry interests praised the decision, saying it would protect jobs.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott was expected to file a petition Wednesday to block enforcement of the new clean air regulations. Abbott previously had asked the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington to review them.

pbeach(at)statesman.com; 445-3603
Additional material from The Associated Press.

Fair Use Notice
This document contains copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. SEED Coalition is making this article available in our efforts to advance understanding of ecological sustainability, human rights, economic democracy and social justice issues. We believe that this constitutes a "fair use" of the copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond "fair use", you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
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