Posts Tagged ‘las brisas’
Posted in Coal, Energy, Global Warming, tagged blake farenthold, clean economy coalition, Coal, coke, connie scott, corpus christi, EPA, facebook, joe adame, juan hinojosa, judith zaffirini, las brisas, Lisa Jackson, opic, pet-coke, petroleum coke, rebecca lyons, TCEQ, Texas, todd hunter, youtube on May 12, 2011 | 1 Comment »
Towards the end of January an independent panel of judges, the Office of Public Interest Counsel, and the EPA all recommended that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality deny the proposed permit for the Las Brisas petroleum-coke burning plant based on its multiple deficiencies and clear violations of the Clean Air Act. The Perry-appointed commissioners approved it anyways. According to its permit, Las Brisas will emit 220 pounds of mercury, 100 pounds of lead, 8,096 pounds of sulfur dioxide, and 1,767 tons of particulate matter every year.
Communities in Corpus Christi are left with few options: the ultimate authority of the EPA, and the leadership of their elected officials.
“This is my hometown, and I love it,” Rebecca Lyons, a graduating honors student at TAMU Corpus Christi, told Matt Tresaugue of the Houston Chronicle back in January, “But I don’t want to raise a family here because of the health risks…There has to be a better way.”
After hundreds of letters, petitions, and phone calls made to the EPA, Corpus Christi residents are taking their fight to the online world. Join us!
Take Action Online!
Copy and paste this status and video to the EPA’s Facebook pages!
Corpus Christi doesn’t want Las Brisas. Stop the air permit now! http://bit.ly/merA7n
EPA’s Facebook Page: http://on.fb.me/X4FYe
Administrator Lisa Jackson’s Facebook Page: http://on.fb.me/130rQ6
Are you on Twitter? Tweet with us!
@epaGOV @lisapjackson I want clean air! Stop the Las Brisas air permit in Corpus Christi, TX!
Ready to go the distance?
Ask your elected officials if they support responsible growth, or Las Brisas. Copy and paste this to their Facebook pages:
I’m a voting constituent, and I don’t want Las Brisas. Do you?
US House Rep Blake Farenthold: http://on.fb.me/f2XnkP
State Rep Connie Scott: http://on.fb.me/jj0qJv
State Rep Todd Hunter: http://on.fb.me/mpSG5d
Mayor Joe Adame: http://on.fb.me/km137a
State Senator Judith Zaffirini: http://on.fb.me/lbxOW5
State Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa does not have a Facebook page.
Send his office an email instead!
Posted in Air Quality, Coal, Energy, Global Warming, tagged CEC, clean air act, clean economy coalition, Coal, corpus christi, EPA, granted, hal suter, jerry sansing, las brisas, permit, TCEQ, Texas, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality on January 26, 2011 | 8 Comments »
In a completely un-shocking and saddening display of administrative arrogance, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) commissioners Bryan Shaw and Buddy Garcia granted an air permit for the proposed Las Brisas coal plant. Commissioner Carlos Rubinstein abstained from voting due to being briefed on the permit when he previously served as deputy executive director.
The two commissioners who voted to approve the permit did so despite the fact that this permit has been recommended against twice by the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) judges who presided over the contested case hearing and deliberated for months on the specifics.
Again today at the TCEQ hearing both judges recommended against issuance of the permit, and the TCEQ’s own Office of Public Interest Council also recommended denial of the permit.
In addition there were lawyers speaking for the thousands of members of the Clean Economy Coalition (based in Corpus Christi where the Las Brisas plant is proposed), Sierra Club, and EDF, all of whom are against issuance of this permit. But after only 45 minutes of testimony during the public hearing, TCEQ Chairman Bryan Shaw recommended granting the permit application stating that he didn’t believe the merits of the facts before the commission would require or warrant (the state agency to remand it), based on his understanding of the rules in place.
Earlier this week, the EPA had asked the Texas commission to not issue the permit until the two agencies could work together to resolve various issues, stating that they were concerned about a lack of consultation with them and that the plant could violate federal clean air standards. They further wrote that they had “strong concerns about the public health and environmental impacts” the plant would pose.
Commissioner Shaw said the EPA’s letter could not be considered because it was not part of the official record of Wednesday’s proceeding so it had no impact on their decision.
This permit is illegal, and the TCEQ commissioners have broken both federal (Clean Air Act) law as well as Texas law in granting it. The EPA also now requires greenhouse gas permitting for any new facilities permitted after January 1, 2011 – but the TCEQ commissioners wouldn’t consider any comments regarding this important factor. Still, Las Brisas will need to acquire such a permit from the EPA before they can begin construction, much less operation, of their proposed coal plant.
The facts in this case are clear. The permit does not meet the minimum standards necessary to protect human health and the environment, and the people who have actually investigated the particulars of this case have consistently and continually recommended against this permit.
Nevertheless, those who have the power to make the decision (the TCEQ commissioners) continue, as they have in the other coal plant cases, to ignore the concerns of the public, the medical communities, environmental groups, and even their own staff. Instead they make these permitting decisions based on politics and act as a rubber stamp for pollution.
TCEQ is up for “sunset” review at the Texas legislature this year. When asked at the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission hearing if the TCEQ had the authority to deny a permit, they answered yes, but given the history of new coal plant permits approved over the past decade, one would be hard pressed to determine what, if any, criteria would cause the state agency to exercise their authority.
In the months leading up to this decision, citizens from around the state have been letting the Sunset Commission know that they believed the TCEQ was broken, and they believe the agency that is supposed to protect our health and environment does the opposite.
The CEC and other people closely affected by this plant are outraged at this decision, but the whole state of Texas needs to be.
Although Las Brisas is the worst of the most recent coal plant permits to be issued by TCEQ there have been other, deficient coal plant permits granted within the last few months throughout Texas near Bay City, Sweetwater, and Victoria.
Please call your Texas legislator and ask them to ensure that TCEQ Commissioners will have to follow the decisions of the administrative judges who rule on these cases, instead of simply ignoring their concerns and the concerns of the public.
- Residents demand TCEQ get tougher on pollution (chron.com)
- Despite pollution worries, Texas builds coal plants. (texastribune.org)
- Mysa.com: TCEQ a no-show at EPA hearing (mysanantonio.com)
- Audit of Texas environmental agency to be released (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We arePublic Citizen Texas.
Posted in Coal, Global Warming, tagged Coal, las brisas, state office of administrative hearings, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, United States Environmental Protection Agency on December 1, 2010 | 5 Comments »
The Las Brisas coal (pet coke) plant proposed for Corpus Christi has had its air permit recommended for denial by the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) for the second time. The SOAH judges presiding over the case have stated in their “proposal for decision” that:
At this time, we are unable to recommend that the requested permits be issued, because we find that Las Brisas Energy Center, LLC… has not made the necessary compliance demonstration to ensure that emissions from the proposed facility would not contribute to air pollution through a violation of a NAAQS or the PSD increment, particularly in regard to particulate matter (PM).
Though not legally binding, a recommendation of denial by SOAH for a second time will, hopefully, have some impact on the TCEQ, who has the final authority for granting the permit. However, the TCEQ has a history of simply ignoring SOAH, the public, and even their own staff in order to grant inadequate and inappropriate permits to large, industrial sources of pollution such as Las Brisas.
This morning at a Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) hearing, Las Brisas Energy Center attempted to try to move their permitting process along by asking the commissioners to intervene in the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) process, but the SOAH Admininistrative Law Judges (ALJs) informed the TCEQ that changes to their process would not be prudent.
Both Commissioner Garcia and Chairman Shaw are shown here asking the administrative law judges who presided over the contested case hearing for the proposed Las Brisas coal (pet-coke) plant to speed the process along. The main reason for this is likely that the EPA’s new CO2 rules take effect on January 2nd of next year – and they don’t want to have to make the coal plant owners meet these new standards. Once again it is clear that the sole interest of these Governor-appointed commissioners is the financial interests of the applicants (coal plant owners, etc.) and not the health and well being of the people of Texas and their environment.
To watch the entire TCEQ video of the hearing (second item on the agenda), click here.
Tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality will have a hearing at their headquarters off Interstate 35 and Parmer Lane in north Austin regarding a status-update on the air permit application for the controversial Las Brisas coke-fired coal plant proposed for Corpus Christi. Commissioners sent the application back for further review last summer.
This update on the planned Las Brisas Energy Center will be held in advance of Monday’s hearing by the State Office of Administrative Hearings. The commission sent the application back to SOAH on June 30 to determine if the plant would be in compliance with federal clean air laws.
Las Brisas has asked the TCEQ to take unprecedented and extraordinary steps to issue an air pollution permit before the end of the year, in order to avoid greenhouse gas regulations that become effective early next year and tomorrow’s status update and Monday’s SOAH hearing should be watched carefully
When commissioners remanded the application in June, they cited problems involving technical readings of federal clean air laws, including whether petroleum coke should be in the same category as coal for the purpose of evaluating its impact on air quality.
Both the ALJ and the TCEQ staff had agreed that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has not specifically ruled on that question, but noted that the federal agency is expected to do so by next year.
The TCEQ’s decision to remand the application was based on more narrow concerns, including whether there would be an increase in particulate matter from offsite sources above levels expected under its most recent modeling.
The commission also instructed Las Brisas to be able to demonstrate that it could load the ashes from the burned petroleum coke into trucks for offsite disposal without contributing to additional emissions.
We’ll keep you updated on what is happening with this proposed plant as events unfold.
By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, cleaner cars, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.
Posted in Coal, Energy, Global Warming, TCEQ, tagged Coal, corpus christi, fail, hearing, judge, judges, las brisas, meeting, pet-coke, Petcoke, petroleum, pollution, Public Citizen, remand, soah, state office of administrative hearings, TCEQ, Texas on June 30, 2010 | Leave a Comment »
The TCEQ ruled today on the air permit for the proposed Las Brisas pet-coke plant in Corpus Christi. The good news is they didn’t grant the permit (yet), instead they remanded the permit back to the State Office of Administrative Hearings on a number of issues. However, they refused to acknowledge some of the most important aspects and requirements of the process (like a case-by-case analysis of the hazardous air pollutants) and practically ignored the recommendations of the administrative law judges and even their own staff – who have all recommended that this permit be denied.
TCEQ should have sent Las Brisas packing – they should have outright denied this joke of a permit, or at the least made them restart the permitting process from square one. Instead we have the same old story from TCEQ. They have shown once more that their primary interest is to allow industries to pollute irresponsibly and not, as it should be, to protect the people and environment of Texas from unnecessary pollution.
The video below is of the press conference held yesterday, which also talked about revisions to water quality standards – another mistake TCEQ is in the process of making. Visit Sierra Club’s website for more on that. Stay tuned to Texas Vox for more info on the Las Brisas case – the video footage of today’s proceedings will be up by tomorrow and will include responses from the protestants in the case including locals from Corpus Christi.
By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas
Portland, Texas’ City Council members voted yesterday on a resolution to unanimously to support a State Office of Administrative Hearings’ judicial recommendation that an air permit sought for Las Brisas petroleum-coke fired power plant be denied or reviewed further.
Portland’s council has long-standing tradition of staying out of Corpus Christi and Nueces County matters, but back in March, after two administrative law judges recommended that the permit be denied or sent back to the state environmental agency for further review, City Councilwoman Cathy Skurow, a civil engineer specializing in environmental permitting, requested it be put on the agenda.
More than 50 people packed the City Council Chambers and the council heard twenty four-minutes of testimony from a couple of Portland residents and dozens of Corpus Christi residents, all against the project, because of concerns that the plant would be detrimental to residents’ health and harmful to the economy should the region fall out of compliance with air pollution limits.
Portland Mayor David Krebs told the crowd that he came into the meeting 100 percent against the resolution, but by the time the vote occurred, he and the others fully supported it.
Council members said the council is not for or against Las Brisas, but wanted to add its collective voice in asking the state agency to make sure the project meets environmental regulations before it is built. Basically the Portland council put TCEQ on notice that they expect TCEQ to do what they are supposed to do to protect the health and environmenal wellbeing of citizens in the region.
By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.
Posted in Coal, Global Warming, tagged CEC, clean economy coalition, Coal, corpus christi, decision, edf, energy center, james marston, judge, las brisas, Petcoke, plant, Public Citizen, ryan rittenhouse, soah, state office of administrative hearings, TCEQ on March 30, 2010 | 1 Comment »
This week the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality received a recommendation from two administrative judges denying the air permit for the proposed Las Brisas Energy Center in Corpus Christi. The decision is a ray of hope in the battle to prevent the petcoke plant from showering the citizens of Corpus Christi with harmful pollutants including nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, mercury, and lead.
Set to be built in the Inner Harbor of Corpus Christi, the petroleum coke-fired power plant would cost nearly $3 billion.
The recommendation was issued following two weeks of testimony and nearly two months of private deliberation between the judges. Reasons for their decision against the permit were that the company:
- failed to perform analysis on maximum achievable control technology to be used for its boilers
- failed to properly account for second emissions
- failed to properly account for emissions from material handling
- improperly adjusted the moisture content of the petroleum coke handled at the Port of Corpus Christi in violation of state and federal guidance, resulting in unreliable emissions modeling (more…)
Posted in Coal, Global Warming, tagged climate change, Coal, Coast, corpus christi, corpus christi bay, Global Warming, Hurricane, hurricane season, jen irish, katrina, las brisas, mustang island, padre island, Petcoke, rita, storm surge on June 4, 2009 | 1 Comment »
If we look at the distribution of the U.S population, we notice there are huge concentrations along the coasts. I was once told that more than half the population lives within 5 miles of the coasts. With so many people living on the coasts, our population is extremely susceptible to destruction from hurricanes. Recent examples of hurricane damage from Katrina, Rita, and Ike loom large in our collective memories.
Recently I came across a study by Jen Irish, an Assistant Professor of Coastal Engineering at Texas A&M, that looked at how Corpus Christi Bay would fare in the event of a hurricane under the conditions describe in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s future climate scenarios. The study found that if the Scenarios are realized hurricane flood levels could increase 3 to 27% over the next 20 years. This will cause damage to homes from flooding to increase by 60% to 100% in the event of a hurricane.
Corpus Christi is already on very low ground that has been slowly sinking for many years. Corpus’ barrier islands, Mustang and Padre, are also eroding. This study particularly interests us at Public Citizen Texas because Corpus Christi is the proposed site of The Las Brisas Pet Coke Plant, which is a project we have been fighting at Public Citizen since it was proposed.
Pet-coke is an incredibly dirty fuel source that emits large quantities of pollutants into the air. For this very reason, pet-coke plants are generally not built in highly populated areas like Corpus Christi. There is also no reason why a pet-coke plant should be built in Texas when better energy sources are available.
To top off the list of objections, Las Brisas will be located directly in the path of the storm surges predicted in Dr. Irish’s model. The proposed location is on a dredge island in Nueces Bay which is barely above sea level, though the developers have proposed raising it another 13 ft (a measure that will only have a minimal effect in the event of a major hurricane).
The Hurricane Research Team at Colorado has already predicted a that this hurricane season (which started Monday) there is 28 to 30% chance that we will see another major hurricane make landfall. In the past, Corpus Christi has been a vulnerable to hurricanes, and considering the IPCC’s finding that warming will increase hurricanes, the facility could be at great risk.
I fear for the residents of Corpus Christi, but I also can’t help but note the irony of a pet-coke facility being one of the first victims of global warming.
–The Disappointed Environmentalist
Posted in Coal, tagged carbon capture, carbon legislation, clean economy coalition, climate change, Coal, coal moratorium, coal plant, corpus christi bay, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, floor pass, hb 4383, Karen Hadden, las brisas, mulit county coalition, patricia broadwell, Public Citizen, public citizen texas, representative allen vaught, roger landress, sb 126, SEED Coalition, senator rodney ellis, sequestration, sweetwater, texas medical association, texas observer, Tom "Smitty" Smith, white stallion on March 25, 2009 | 3 Comments »
Yesterday morning we held a press conference to highlight the importance of the proposed coal moratorium bill, SB 126, sponsored by State Sen. Rodney Ellis, and its companion bill in the house, HB 4384, sponsored by Rep. Allen Vaught.
SB 126 , which went into committee late Tuesday night, would put a temporary moratorium on authorizations for new coal-fired power plants that do not capture and sequester their carbon emissions. If all of Texas’ 12 proposed coal plants were built, they would emit an additional 77 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Top climate scientists, most notably James Hansen, have advocated for a coal moratorium as one of the top priorities to address climate change.
This legislation would also give Texas time to take a breath, see what federal carbon legislation will come down from Washington, and re-evaluate our energy plan. We expect carbon emissions to be given a price as a result of a federal climate change bill, and this would make the energy from coal considerably more expensive.
Floor Pass, the Texas Observer’s legislative blog, reports:
Environmentalists support these bills, but some feel they could be stronger. Both bills grant exceptions to facilities that capture and sequester some of the carbon dioxide they produce. Vaught’s bill mandates that a minimum of at least 60 percent of the carbon dioxide must be captured and sequestered in order for the exemption to apply. Ellis’ bill does not specify the amount.
“We definitely would support 100 percent reduction of carbon dioxide,” says Karen Hadden, director of Sustainable Energy and Economic Development Coalition. “We should not be adding carbon dioxide to our air at this point in time. It’s too risky in terms of climate change. Companies can do it, and they should.”
Representatives from communities currently fighting coal plants were on hand to discuss how this legislation will protect their families from dangerous health effects such as asthma and increased autism rates and improve local air quality. It was really moving to hear community members telling their own stories of how proposed coal plants would affect their lives. If you’re interested in hearing their stories, check out the video feed from the press conference. Look for March 25, Press Conference: Senator Rodney Ellis. That’s us!
The story got picked up in a couple other media outlets. All the news that’s fit to link:
“Foes take power plant fight to Austin” by Denise Malan, Corpus Christi Caller Times
“Texas coal opponents call for a temporary moratorium on new plants” by Barbara Kessler, Green Right Now
And if you STILL WANT MORE, check out our press release after the jump.
Posted in Coal, Energy, Global Warming, Toxics, tagged clean economy coalition, coal plant, corpus christi, del mar, environmental defense fund, fire marshall, kris-tv, las brisas, preliminary hearing, Public Citizen, Sierra Club, smith, soah, state office of adminstrative hearings on February 26, 2009 | Leave a Comment »
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.
Posted in Coal, tagged american federation of teachers, clean economy coaltion, coal plant, corpus christi, las brisas, leopard street, north beach tenants association, nueces county medical society, preliminary hearing, tamucc, valentine's day on February 16, 2009 | Leave a Comment »
More than 200 citizens gathered in Corpus Christi this Valentine’s Day to march in protest of the proposed Las Brisas Power Plant.
Public Citizen staffers were on hand to lend their support to the display, but this march was all local, baby. Groups as varied as the Clean Economy Coalition of the Coastal Bend, Nueces County Medical Society, American Federation of Teachers, North Beach Tenants Association, and student organizations from Texas A&M University Corpus Chrisi sponsored and participated in this event.
Check out Corpus Christi Channel 6′s news coverage of the event for stunning footage of and interviews from local opponents.
The preliminary hearing on Las Brisas’ air permit will be held tomorrow at ten at 1201 Leopard Street.
Corpus Christi – October 7, 2008
The “Sparkling City by the Sea” has been losing its sparkle through the years, as more and more refineries pollute its air and water. Now a new threat looms to increase the pollution that is damaging and degrading what should be the glistening jewel of the Texas Gulf Coast.
A by-product of the refining industry is petroleum-coke (or pet-coke). It is the toxic-filled waste that is left over after the refining industry gets all it wants out of crude oil. The Las Brisas Energy Center is a proposed facility that will burn this waste in what is, basically, a coal plant on the shores of Nueces Bay.
I attended a public meeting held by the TCEQ on Tuesday that allowed for comments and questions to be asked of the TCEQ and representatives of Las Brisas. Many concerns were raised by concerned citizens and few, if any, of the questions were answered satisfactorily.
The main proponents of the facility seemed to be, as usual, those who were happy at the proposed jobs this facility would create. One of the points I brought up was how green jobs (jobs from energy efficiency programs and from renewable energy generation) would provide far more employment opportunities for the area: permanent jobs (as opposed to temporary construction jobs) which couldn’t be outsourced.