USW Applauds EPA Rejecting Portions of Texas Clean-Air Permitting Program

Contact:  Gary Beevers, USW Vice President, (409) 838-1972
              Lynne Baker, USW Communications, (615) 831-6782, (615) 828-6169

Beaumont, Texas—The United Steelworkers (USW) Union today applauded the EPA for its proposal to disapprove parts of the Texas clean-air permitting program that do not meet federal Clean Air Act requirements.

“We wholly support the EPA’s decision to ensure that Texas lives up to its responsibilities under the Clean Air Act,” said USW Vice President Gary Beevers, who heads the union’s oil sector.

“The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has been lax far too long on air quality standards, giving a pass to the oil and chemical industries when they should have been protecting the public’s health. Our members and their families live and work in the communities surrounding these refineries and chemical plants. These communities deserve clean air.

“If the oil and chemical industries would follow stronger health and safety guidelines, many emissions would not occur,” Beevers added.

The EPA has faulted the transparency of Texas’s air-permitting program. The agency plans to reject Texas rules that allow air polluters to make certain changes at plants without having to schedule public hearings. It also proposes to reject the state’s flexible permits, which allow emission limits to be exceeded in certain areas provided that those areas achieve an overall emissions average.

“TCEQ needs to, at a minimum, adhere to the Clean Air Act,” Beevers said. ”We look forward to the EPA ensuring Texas follows these requirements like other states.”

The USW is the largest industrial union in North America and has 850,000 members in the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean. It represents workers employed in metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining, atomic energy and the service sector.



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