Texas' illegal industrial air pollution doubled as Trump administration deregulated, new report shows

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COURTESY PHOTO / ENVIRONMENT TEXAS RESEARCH AND POLICY CENTER
  • Courtesy Photo / Environment Texas Research and Policy Center
Illegal air pollution from Texas industrial facilities more than doubled during the Trump administration's rollback of environmental regulations, according to a new report from the Environment Texas Research and Policy Center.

The number of unauthorized emissions of industrial pollutants in the Lone Star State increased to 174 million pounds last year from 63 million pounds in 2017, the administration's first year in office, according to the Austin-based watchdog group's analysis of state environmental data.



The increase came as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gutted ​more than a dozen air quality safeguards and slashed enforcement actions in the state, the report shows.

“The EPA is cutting protection left and right, and Texans are paying the price,” said Catherine Fraser, clean air associate with Environment Texas Research and Policy Center. “Every single day in 2019, an industrial facility somewhere in Texas illegally polluted our air, and that’s unacceptable. We need our federal and state leaders to hold polluters accountable and protect our air and our health.”



SOURCE: ENVIRONMENT TEXAS RESEARCH AND POLICY CENTER
  • Source: Environment Texas Research and Policy Center
While Texas' overall industrial emissions increased from 2018 to 2019, the San Antonio area experienced a 2018-to-2019 decline in releases. Our region — which state environmental regulators consider Bexar plus 14 nearby counties — experienced 483,000 pounds of unauthorized emissions last year, compared to slightly more than 3 million a year prior.

Fraser attributed San Antonio's drop to an extraordinary 2018 increase resulting from a fire at a drilling fluids facility in Karnes County that serviced the Eagle Ford Shale.

Environment Texas' report calls on the EPA to eliminate loopholes that allow polluters to avoid penalties. It also said the agency should step up enforcement actions in the state.

SOURCE: ENVIRONMENT TEXAS RESEARCH AND POLICY CENTER
  • Source: Environment Texas Research and Policy Center
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