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San Antonio has opportunity to grade TCEQ


Michael Cary

Is the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality keeping Texas a great place to live? Or is the agency, tasked with ensuring good air and water quality and proper disposal of hazardous waste, simply playing a shell game?

As the agency goes through its Sunset Review process, residents of the state are being given an opportunity to sound off on the question. Concerned residents in the Greater San Antonio area will be converging from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday at the San Antonio Central Library, 600 Soledad Street, to take their turn.

Lamont Jefferson, member of the Sunset Review Commission of the Texas Legislature, will be joined by state representatives Trey Martinez Fischer, David McQuade Leibowitz, and Roland Gutierrez will preside over a review of how relevant TCEQ is to our polluted state. The public session is one of several occurring across the state.

The following hearing will be held from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Bass Lecture Hall, LBJ School of Public Affairs, UT-Austin campus. Other cities that have already hosted similar hearings include El Paso, Beaumont, Dallas, Houston, Corpus Christi and Victoria.

TCEQ, which is tasked with ensuring the health and safety of all Texans as well as enforcement of the federal Clean Air and Clean Water Acts in Texas. The Environmental Protection Agency recently condemned TCEQ’s record in accomplishing those tasks, particularly in its practice of approving so-called “flexible” air permits for industry. More recently, re-elected Governor Rick Perry accused Washington of meddling in the state’s affairs and enforcement of environmental regulations, saying the job could be done better at statewide level. Promised carbon regulations in 2011 have proved to be no small flashpoint in the Energy State.

The local meeting is sponsored by the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance, the League of Women Voters of the San Antonio Area and Comal County, the Alliance for a Clean Texas, the Lone Star and Alamo Chapters of the Sierra Club, Bexar Audubon Society, Southwest Workers Union, the Helotes Nature Center, Citizens for the Protection of Cibolo Creek, 350 San, La Coste Residents for a Healthy Community, and CASE New Braunfels.

Individual citizens will be given three minutes to speak, and citizen groups and governmental agencies will be allotted six minutes.

Topics to be addressed by citizens engaged in these issues will include air quality, hazardous waste disposal, water quality protection, and TCEQ’s track record.

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