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Public Citizen to TCEQ: Texas Regional Haze Plan is “Inadequate”

WA Parish coal plant harms skies in four states

On Dec. 8, Dr. Stephanie Thomas, Public Citizen’s Houston-based researcher and organizer, testified on the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s Regional Haze Plan.

The following is Thomas’ testimony:

Good afternoon, my name is Dr. Stephanie Thomas. I work for the organization Public Citizen, a national consumer protection organization. I am also a proud daughter with a father who spent his career working for the National Park Service in land acquisition, working to add to the beautiful and protected lands we so cherish.

Pollution from Texas coal plants not only impacts public health and contributes to the climate crisis, it also creates haze and reduces visibility at our most treasured national parks and wilderness areas. 

 TCEQ’s plan is inadequate. 

 Computer modeling by TCEQ and independent scientists shows that Plant Parish and other Texas coal-fired power plants contribute to haze at multiple Class I scenic areas. 

 According to a 2018 study, the WA Parish Plant contributes haze to five Class 1 areas in four states: Big Bend National Park (Texas), the Guadalupe Mountains (Texas), the Salt Creek Wilderness Area (New Mexico), the Wichita Mountains (Oklahoma), and Caney Creek Wilderness Area (Arkansas). WA Parish contributes more haze than any other power plant in operation in Texas today. 

TCEQ didn’t include sulfur dioxide controls (scrubbers) in their analysis, and given the amount of emissions, the wide geographic distribution of pollution, and the fact that three of the four boilers at WA Parish operate without scrubbers, this is an egregious oversight.   

Why aren’t the best available retrofit technologies required? Cap-and-trade is not sufficiently reducing emissions. In order to curb the pollution, we need real controls at the source. Scrubbers not only reduce haze, but they provide tremendous benefits to the health of Texans. Cleaning up this pollution and moving to renewable energy like wind and solar can boost local economies. 

We don’t need a do-nothing state implementation plan. We need real emissions reductions to reduce haze at our public lands and improve public health. 

 Thank you.