Harris County Attorney Christian D. Menefee filed a lawsuit today on behalf of Harris County against the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), challenging an amendment to the commission’s Air Quality Standard Permit for Concrete Batch Plants. Many of Houston’s concrete batch plants operate according to the standard permit and the amendments adopted by the TCEQ threaten local residents and the environment. The permit’s pending amendment will exempt facilities from pollutant emissions and distance limitations set by the Texas Clean Air Act. Harris County’s own modeling, using TCEQ data, shows that emissions from concrete batch plants far exceed standards set to protect public health.
“The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is not doing enough to protect residents and ensure we have clean air,” said Menefee. “There are approximately 130 concrete batch plants in Harris County, and the placement is disproportionally found in underserved neighborhoods. For example, there several plants in Aldine and South Houston, while there are none in River Oaks. Your zip code should not determine whether you get to breathe clean air. Every Harris County resident deserves to be protected from harmful chemicals.”
During the 30-day public comment period held by the TCEQ, Harris County noted several concerns with the standard permit. Community members and elected officials from the local, state, and federal levels also identified problems, including lack of information and notice in Spanish. However, these concerns went unaddressed as the TCEQ moved forward with implementing these changes.