About Air and Water

Saturday, August 29, 2009

State Participation in Gas Pipeline Relocations

From Minutes of Texas Transportation Commission, August 27, 2009

Chapter 21 – Right of Way (MO)
New §21.24, State Participation in Gas Pipeline Relocations (Utility
Adjustment, Relocation, or Removal) and Amendments to §21.31,
Definitions, §21.33, Applicability, §21.34, Scope, §21.36, Rights of Utilities,
§21.37, Design, and New §21.42, Appeal Process (Utility Accommodation)
Legislation passed by the 81st Legislature increases the types of gas pipelines that can be placed longitudinally in state highway right of way. The proposed rule changes authorize installation of the new gas pipelines, provide for verification of Railroad Commission regulation, and establish a formal appeal process.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Filling the gap When the state won’t take on a dirty job

By Editorial - HOUSTON CHRONICLE - Aug. 23, 2009

City of Houston officials have wrestled for years with this dilemma: How do you prevent industrial facilities from violating clean air standards if the state agency entrusted with that responsibility doesn't do the job?
Environmental groups frustrated by that inaction are now taking polluters to court, with encouraging results. In the latest example, the Sierra Club and Environment Texas have filed a federal suit to force Chevron Phillips Chemical to reduce emissions of air toxics at its Cedar Bayou chemical plant in Baytown.
In court filings, the groups claim that since 2003 the plant has illegally released more than a million pounds of toxic, carcinogenic chemicals, including benzene and 1,3-butadiene. Most of the releases occurred during so-called “upsets,” which occur during startups, shutdowns, and other non-routine activities.
The litigation is being brought under a provision of the Clean Air Act empowering private citizens affected by illegal pollution discharges to file federal suits if state and federal regulators do not take action.
This is the second time that the two groups have used the citizen suit provision against a Houston-area company. Last year the target was the Shell Oil Deer Park refinery and petrochemical complex. That resulted in a landmark settlement in which Shell agreed to reduce emissions and pay nearly $6 million for past Clean Air Act violations.
Reacting to the latest suit, a Chevron Phillips spokesman claimed the company is complying with existing laws and has reduced emissions.
Neil Carman, a chemist and the Clean Air Program director for the Lone Star chapter of the Sierra Club, says a single discharge of emissions from the Cedar Bayou facility 10 years ago created the highest levels of ozone in Houston in the last 20 years.
The director of Environment Texas, Luke Metzger, says citizen suits are necessary “because the state of Texas has failed to stop such violations at Cedar Bayou and elsewhere and enforce the law themselves.”
The support evidence filed in the Chevron Phillips suit is based on analysis of the company's own reports submitted to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. It's inexcusable that the state agency responsible for enforcing clean air laws apparently can't be bothered to look at what's right under its nose.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Notice of Air Quality Permitting Contested Hearing


SOAH Docket No. 582-09-5906
TCEQ Docket No. 2009-0696-AIR
Proposed Permit No. 85088L001

APPLICATION. Trinity Materials, Inc., 2525 North Stemmons Freeway, Dallas, Texas 75207, has applied to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) for issuance of an Air Quality Permit Number 85088L001, which would authorize construction of a Rock Crushing Plant to be located approximately 3.8 miles east of Elmo, Texas, on Highway 80. Travel south on County Road 314 approximately 1,000 feet to the plant entrance near Terrell, Kaufman County, Texas. The proposed facility will emit the following air contaminants: particulate matter including particulate matter less than 10 microns in diameter.

The TCEQ executive director has prepared a draft permit which, if approved, would establish the conditions under which the facility must operate. The TCEQ Executive Director has made a preliminary decision to issue the permit because it meets all rules and regulations. The permit application, TCEQ Executive Director's preliminary decision, and draft permit are available for viewing and copying at the TCEQ Central Office, the TCEQ Fort Worth Regional Office, and at the Terrell Public Library, 301 North Rockwall Street, Terrell, Kaufman County, Texas. The facility's compliance file, if any exists, is available for public review at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Dallas/Fort Worth Regional Office, 2309 Gravel Drive, Fort Worth, Texas.

DIRECT REFERRAL. The Notice of Application and Preliminary Decision was published on December 18, 2008. On July 30, 2009, the Applicant filed a request for direct referral to the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH). Therefore, the chief clerk has referred this application directly to SOAH for a hearing on whether the application complies with all applicable statutory and regulatory requirements.

CONTESTED CASE HEARING. The State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) will conduct a formal contested case hearing at:

10:00 a.m. - September 28, 2009
William P. Clements Building
300 West 15th Street, 4th Floor
Austin, Texas 78701

The contested case hearing will be a legal proceeding similar to a civil trial in state district court. The hearing will be conducted in accordance with the Chapter 2001, Texas Government Code; Chapter 382, Texas Health and Safety Code; TCEQ rules including 30 Texas Administrative Code (TAC) Chapter 116, Subchapters A and B; and the procedural rules of the TCEQ and SOAH, including 30 TAC Chapter 80 and 1 TAC Chapter 155.

To request to be a party, you must attend the hearing and show you would be affected by the application in a way not common to the general public. Any person may attend the hearing and request to be a party. Only persons named as parties may participate at the hearing.

INFORMATION. If you need more information about the hearing process for this application, please call the Office of Public Assistance, Toll Free, at 1-800-687-4040. General information regarding the TCEQ can be found at www.TCEQ.state.tx.us.

Persons with disabilities who need special accommodations at the hearing should call the SOAH Docketing Department at 512-475-3445, at least one week prior to the hearing.

Further information may also be obtained from Trinity Materials, Inc., at the address stated above or by calling Mr. Bobby Bailey, Environmental Coordinator at 214-589-8459.

Issued: August 12, 2009

LaDonna CastaƱuela, Chief Clerk
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

Thursday, August 6, 2009

TCEQ HELICOPTER TAKES TO THE SKY FOR GULF COAST CLEAN AIR STUDY Looking for unreported, under-reported emissions

By Lisa Wheeler - TCEQ News Release - WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 5, 2009
Residents in the Corpus Christi, Beaumont-Port Arthur, and Houston-Galveston-Brazoria areas may soon notice a white helicopter hovering over or near pipelines, oil and gas production facilities, and other industrial facilities, as part of an airborne study being conducted by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

Beginning the second week of August, the helicopter flights will be conducted over industrial areas in Harris, Jefferson, and Nueces counties. The study will conclude no later than August 21, 2009.

The specially-equipped helicopter utilizes an infrared camera called the HAWK that can image volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other hydrocarbon emissions invisible to the eye. VOCs are a class of compounds present in common things like gasoline and used as solvents or industrial chemicals. VOCs can combine with nitrogen oxides (NOx) in the presence of sunlight and light winds to form ground-level ozone.

When the camera detects possible VOC emissions, the technician on the helicopter will note the time and location and other information about the emissions source. The helicopter may hover or circle a particular location for an extended period of time to gather images and data on potential emission sources.

The TCEQ project is a follow-up to similar efforts conducted in the Texas Gulf Coast, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Tyler-Longview-Marshall areas to identify VOC sources that may potentially be unreported or under-reported. Identifying the emissions will assist the agency in improving the region's air quality by advancing the study of ozone formation and VOC sources, thus leading to improved air quality planning efforts.

Notification of similar flights in the future will be posted on the TCEQ Point Source Emissions Inventory page http://www.tceq.state.tx.us/implementation/air/industei/psei/psei.html, rather than via news releases.

Travel to other worlds ... UTA Planetarium

Immersive full-dome 3-D Digital planetarium show narrated by Ewan McGregor (Obi wan Kepobi from Star Wars) - Astronaut takes you exporing the worlds of inner and outer space. The movie is projected all around you. You recline in specially constructed chairs which enables you to comfortably view the immersive full-dome planetarium show. Astronaut! (produced from the National Space Centre in England) goes beyond the stereotypical space movie. Experience a rocket launch from inside the body of the astronaut. Float around the international Space Station moving thorugh the microscopic regions of the human body! Discover the beauty and perils as "Chad", the test astronaut experiences everything thrown at him.

Summer Schedule (June 2-August 26):


shows at the UTA Planetarium.

Wed. through Saturdays at 11 a.m.
and Thursday at 7:00 p.m.

Cosmic CSI

shows at the UTA Planetarium 3-D Digital Dome.

Wed. through Saturdays at 2 p.m.

Rock Hall of Fame 1 (The Original)

shows at the UTA Planetarium.

Thursday at 8:00 p.m.

Read more (Warning their flat dull website doesn't give much of a glimmer of the multi-dimensional experience you'll have once you enter the dome of the UTA Planetarium!)

Admission: Adults: $5.00

Seniors, Students, Children: $4.00

UTA Faculty, Staff & Alumni (with ID): $3.00

UTA Studens (with ID): $2.00

Groups of 10 or more with reservation: $3.00

Call 817 272-1183 or e-mail planetarium@uta.edu