The one-mile rule: Texas’ unwritten and arbitrary policy protects big polluters from citizen complaints
Dylan Baddour of Inside Climate News reports about environmental groups and citizens in Texas who are challenging the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for its use of an unwritten "one-mile test" to restrict public challenges to air pollution permits.
In a nutshell:
The TCEQ, responsible for implementing federal pollution laws in Texas, has allegedly used this test consistently for over a decade to deny hearing requests from individuals and groups living more than a mile away from proposed polluting facilities, reports Baddour. These challenges have led to a federal court hearing set for this fall and prompted investigations by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency into the alleged restrictions on access to judicial review in Texas.
“TCEQ’s actions speak for themselves,” Erin Gaines, an Austin-based senior attorney with the nonprofit Earthjustice said. “TCEQ routinely denies hearing requests from members of the public unless they own property within one mile of a facility.”
The big picture:
Living near a polluting facility can have significant health impacts on local communities. Hazardous air pollutants and fine particulate matter are known to cause cancer and other serious health issues. The "one-mile test" could negatively impact health outcomes by restricting the ability of residents and environmental groups to challenge pollution permits for these facilities, potentially denying affected communities the right to have a meaningful voice in the permitting process.
Read more at Inside Climate News.
Texas has a history of prioritizing polluting industries over local communities. Madeleine Turner wrote for EHN about plans for the Permian Highway Pipeline in Texas plowing ahead—with fears over water pollution quickly becoming reality.