Corpus Christi residents stirred up quite a stink at the Las Brisas preliminary hearing last Tuesday. Four hundred residents showed up to make their feelings known about the coal plant, which if built will be clearly visible from Town Hall.
Originally the hearing was to be held in a 50 person capacity room, which was not expected to fill up. Little did they know that countless locals and a bus load of grade school kids from Smith, a nearby town, would show up to voice their opinions about the hearing.
“I don’t want this plant because I already live by six large refineries and I’ve been affected by the air pollution,” Jean Salone, who lives in the Hillcrest area, told KRIS-TV. “My concerns are air pollution, the effects on my health and dangerous situations like gas entering my home,” Salone said.
Public and environmental health issues were raised by several Corpus residents.
“I’m very concerned about my health. We are the 84th most polluted county in the country right now based on the tri data,” Dr. Melissa Jarrell said to KRIS.
“It might cause adverse affects to myself, to my neighbors, to wildlife, to fish in the bay,” local resident Bill Reeves told KRIS.
Having to balance the droves of fired up citizens and capacity issues, the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) judge who was presiding over the hearing decided to rotate the groups 50 people at a time in order to give everyone a chance to be heard.Apparently though, having so many people in one place with limited capacity is a fire hazard – or at least it is according to the Corpus Christi Fire Marshall, who required the hearing to be moved for safety reasons.
The Judge heard the rest of the people that were in the room, and any individuals who could not come back at a later time. Then a recess was called until the afternoon to reconvene at the Del Mar College Center for Ecological Development.
Even with all the commotion, the hearing was still a great success. Several organizations were granted standing, including the Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, Clean Economy Coalition, as well as many individuals form the local community. “Standing” means that individuals are uniquely affected parties and will actually have status in the hearing process.
The next hearing is expected to be held sometime in August. This meeting will give organizations and individuals who were granted standing the opportunity to present their case.