Republican Michael Burgess Calls for Investigation into TCEQ

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Congressman Michael Burgess has called on the Texas Attorney General's office to investigate the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, after the TCEQ reported inaccurate results to the Fort Worth City Council and then took weeks to report the error after they had discovered it.

The Republican congressman's rebuke of the TCEQ follows a week in which EPA regional administrator Al Armendariz told the Houston Chronicle, “I think the writing will be on the wall — unless we start seeing better permits that address our objections, we are very likely to begin federalizing others. The state is not following federal Clean Air Act requirements.”

As Phillp wrote yesterday (The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality: “An Agency of Destruction“), Rick Perry's attempt to make the controversy surrounding the TCEQ a states' rights issue simply does not add up. During George W. Bush's term, the EPA pressured the TCEQ to improve its permitting process and to make its data public. To present the EPA's legitimate concerns as a new “federal power grab” is completely disingenuous, as members of Perry's own party are beginning to realize.

From the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

“Those responsible should be held fully accountable, and I believe that a robust investigation by the Texas Attorney General’s office would be appropriate,” Michael Burgess said in a statement.

Burgess said he was recently briefed by TCEQ on air quality issues related to gas drilling and he's not happy to find out now that he wasn't presented with all of the data.

“I relied on the information I was given, as did many others in North Texas,” Burgess said. “I find it personally offensive to find out that what I have been told may not be the full story on the air quality issues in the area that affect millions of North Texans.  There are a lot of questions that TCEQ needs to answer, and the public is right to demand accountability.”

There is one Republican in particular who seems eager to support Perry's position on the issue: Kelly Hancock, state representative for House District 91 in Fort Worth.

Hancock has spent much of the past few days on Twitter expressing outrage at what he describes as “the federal grab of the state's successful permitting process.” Hancock is also the vice president of Advanced Chemical Logistics, a company that specializes in “the chemical needs” of the industrial and institutional formulators, oil field, water treatment industries, amongst others.

From the Star-Telegram:

“I think the key point to remember is, in February, the sites were retested, and they all came back significantly below the long-term exposure limits,” Hancock said.

Hancock, a vice president at a chemical company, said he didn't understand why the agency bothered to retest the older samples in the air canisters.

“Actually the second tests were very unscientific,” he said. “The canisters they used had been sitting on the shelves for a long time. … If the tests had come back at lower levels, then everyone who's complaining now would want to throw those tests out.”

Burgess has had a pretty awful environmental record since entering the U.S. House in 2003. In 2009, the League of Conservation Voters gave him a 0 rating. In 2008, Enviroment America did the same. The fact that Burgess, along with other Republicans, seem shocked about Perry's mismanagement of the TCEQ is a telling sign. There are only so many chemical company executives to defend Perry on this one.

If you haven't already, take some time to read the Texas Observer's recent cover story on the TCEQ. As much as Perry would like to neatly fit this into his Washington vs. Texas narrative, this is a losing issue for him that even some Republican lawmakers are beginning to catch on to.

Previously on BOR:

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6 Comments

  1. stacksucker on

    Yes, much – BJ Services
    BJ Services is a Houston-based oil field services company under investigation by the House Energy and Commerce Committee for the use of “fracking” fluids that may be contaminating groundwater in Texas and elsewhere. Since 2003, while the mayor of Houston, White earned $2.6 million serving on the board of BJ Services.

    http://www.texasobserver.org/f

    • That is a concern
      I agree with this statement from the Chronicle link in your Observer article.

      Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, who has called for a Barnett Shale moratorium, said people in western Tarrant, Wise, Parker and Johnson counties where there has been water pollution would be “very disappointed” to learn White has a financial interest in a fracturing company. However, Burnam said he fully supports White.

      “He understands the issue, and the incumbent governor does not,” Burnam said. “Bill White recognizes there's a problem and he has a track record of working with businesses to solve problems.”

      We have this concern in the Barnett Shale…but not sure that it resonates in the rest of the state. Maybe everyone will be taking a different look at it with what is happening in the Gulf.

  2. Not so much
    according to PolitiFact…

    […is correct that White has a financial interest in Exxon, as well as other oil and gas companies. And it's true that Exxon is acquiring XTO, a $27 billion company that's a big player in the Barnett Shale. But Shami's assertion that White's $45,000 investment in Exxon constitutes a “major stake” in XTO is off the mark.

    Though we found that White has a larger interest in ConocoPhillips, which owns another company drilling in the Barnett Shale, that too is a tiny piece of a multinational oil company's action.]

    Based on everything I've learned about drilling in the Barnett Shale…I do believe we need a moratorium. There is just totally inadequate regulation and there are too many cancer-causing emissions from these wells. What happened in Flower Mound should make everyone take note. If what happened in Fort Worth doesn't wake people up…then nothing will.

    I do know that people are still not understanding what's going on even when wells are going being drilled all around them…our politicians need to defend us against harm.  Seems they cause us more harm than good.

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