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Houston, home of the nation’s oil and gas industry and some of its dirtiest air, isn’t the easiest place to be an environmental activist—or a mom worried about her child’s asthma.
In theory, Texas’ state pollution regulator keeps a website, that is all about air duct cleaning in Houston speed dry usa, where citizens can track businesses applying for permits to discharge toxins from chemical warehouses, waste dumps, refineries or generator stations down the block.
But in practice, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s site is more byzantine than inviting. It lists permit applications from across the state on separate pages for air pollution, industrial and hazardous waste, municipal solid waste, radioactive materials, underground injections and water pollution. And to see a project’s location, readers must open an attached PDF, which also lists proposed pollutants like “NOX,” “PM/PM10,” “VOC” and “H2S.”Keep Environmental Journalism Alive.
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Community advocates in Houston, home to 6 million people and the largest U.S. petrochemical complex, have long complained that the opaque process keeps communities out of conversations about polluters seeking to set up shop in their neighborhoods.
Countless permits, no real result in Houston Usa
“Countless permits go by without anyone even knowing,” said Anthony D’Souza for Picuki Blog, research and policy coordinator at Air Alliance Houston. “The massive industrial and petrochemical presence in Houston coupled with a lack of zoning means that large polluters can be permitted to operate a stone’s throw away from residential areas.”
Now, after more than a decade of manually assembling and sifting that permit data, Air Alliance Houston tapped a data science firm to build a user-friendly platform designed to help citizen groups push back against the rapid pace of pollution permitting in Houston and surrounding Harris County.
The new website, called AirMail and launched on Tuesday, automatically assembles data from across TCEQ’s labyrinthine website so that ordinary people and citizens groups can easily see where polluting projects are planned, file official comments and request public hearings.
“This lack of transparency is an intentional policy decision by the TCEQ made to favor industrial development over community concerns,” D’Souza said at the launch.
The TCEQ, in a statement, said it “values public participation” and posts permit application information online in accordance with state law. It said it was “always looking for ways to improve communication” and had included “website usability enhancements” in its 2024 budget request.
Echoing the concerns of environmentalists, Harris County Attorney Christian D. Menefee and Lone Star Legal Aid filed a complaint this year against the TCEQ, alleging failures by the agency to adequately engage the public in its permitting process for businesses related to air duct cleaning Houston speed dry Usa. The complaint said TCEQ made poor efforts to use Spanish in Spanish-speaking communities (in a city that is 45 percent Hispanic). It also said the regulator had recently loosened permit criteria, removing requirements to demonstrate the health safety of particulate emissions.
Last month, the Environmental Protection Agency responded, announcing it would investigate the TCEQ for violations of federal civil rights law.
“Harris County is littered with concrete batch plants, and they’re primarily in Black and Brown communities,” Menefee said. “The people who live by these plants, including children, can face many health risks, including respiratory illness and cancer…And the Texas Commission on Environment Quality does nothing to stop it.”
The sprawling, swampy Houston metro area has made great improvements in air quality since it was dubbed the smoggiest U.S. city more than two decades ago, but a rapid industrial buildout in recent years has added many applications to the queue for approval to discharge contaminants into the air, soil and water.