Today’s the last day to formally ask the EPA to enforce the Clean Air Act in Texas.
Sierra Club our environmental partners, bicyclists, medical communities, and interfaith partners delivered comments last week from more than 2,000 Texans to officials at the Region 6 headquarters of
the EPA in Dallas and we want them to hear from even more of us today! Here’s the story on KERA public radio in Dallas.
What’s all the fuss about? More and more Texans are realizing that Texas is in the problematic position of having more proposed coal plants than any other state in the nation. With 12 in various stages of construction or permitting challenges, Michigan, second worst with 4 planned coal plants, leaves Texas in the really big dust.
Texans are learning that coal plants make people sick. Medical practitioners have become increasingly involved in opposing Texas coal plants – particularly in Corpus Christi, the site of the proposed Las Brisas pet coke plant; in Austin, which could become the first municipal utility in the state to reject coal; and in Dallas, which is downwind of the majority of Texas existing coal plants and has been in non-attainment of federal air quality standards. At the EPA last week, Dallas-based pediatrician, Dr. Karen Lewis with Physicians for Social Responsibility said, “Coal plants in Texas emit huge volumes of heavy duty respiratory toxins and we're seeing skyrocketing rates of asthma and respiratory illness in children.” Dr. Lewis addressed mercury pollution which leads to developmental and neurological disorders in children, “Doctors recommend that pregnant women not eat large fish and limit their intake of smaller fish, but can we talk about where the mercury in such otherwise healthy food as fish comes from? The bottom line is that we shouldn’t be building more coal plants in Texas.”
There are other reasons to fight coal plants. Coal plants cost too much. And, costs are rising as new, more protective clean air standards become law. The new standards will place many additional regions of Texas in ‘non-attainment’ status jeopardizing federal funds and they will require coal plants to install costly new scrubbers. Texans don’t need to foot this bill when we live in a state with so much clean energy know-how and wind and solar resource.
Coal plants also cause global warming and use enormous amounts of water. This is a serious problem in Texas where we experience extreme drought.
Fortunately, more people are becoming actively involved. People are hearing about the second wave of the Texas coal rush in part thanks to Forrest Wilder’s Texas Observer article ‘Coal Star State’ and also thanks to hundreds of Sierrans, our environmental partners and bicycling community friends who came out to Roll Beyond Coal at rallies, bike rides, and hikes in five Texas cities on October 31. Sierra Club’s long time chemist, former state regulator, and clean air warrior, Neil Carman believes that the recently appointed new EPA Administrator at Region VI in Dallas can make a difference in the coal plant fight.
We got a hopeful sign last week when a company decided that it won’t import PCBs and burn them in Port Arthur. He thinks the new EPA can also intervene on TCEQ’s habit of permitting big coal polluters.
Sierra Club will continue challenging coal plants in Texas and we need your help! Let the EPA know today that you want them to block Texas coal plants and take a serious look at the 17 existing coal plants.