TCEQ has a long list of dangerous pollutants and the maximum amount of each that may be emitted. When a company applies for an Air Quality Permit, they must list any TCEQ-recognized pollutants they will produce and the amounts of each that will be emitted during expected operation.
If a company receives an Air Quality Permit from TCEQ, the public can assume that emissions won’t exceed the limit and can be presumed safe.
If another company moves next door to the first and submits a similar pollutant list, doubling the estimated amount of pollutants emitted, what should TCEQ do?
They could check to see if any of the combined totals of the same pollutants are over the safe limit and, if so, refuse to issue a second Air Quality Permit for that location.
Or TCEQ could award the second company a permit based on a mistaken sense of fairness, given that the second company met the same criteria as the first.
Unfortunately for residents near the ports of Corpus Christi, Houston, and Port Arthur-Beaumont, TCEQ appears to have made the “fair” decision (fair for the companies, not for the local community). The combined output of multiple chemical and petrochemical companies—each individually producing up to the maximum allowable amount of certain pollutants—results in a cumulative amount far exceeding the established safe limit, creating a dangerous environment.
Who would live in such places? Only those who cannot afford to move, especially those who can no longer sell their depreciated house.
As Port Commissioner, I will work to establish a pollutant guideline that is fairer to and safer for both leaseholder and neighbor than the current TCEQ permitting process is.