This week, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) unveiled a $2.2 million investment in equipment to monitor pollution during natural disasters, chemical fires and other polluting events. The improvements include upgrades to air monitoring equipment in three existing TCEQ vans. The new equipment also includes four drones and three gas monitors for the Houston Ship Channel. Public Citizen has consistently urged the Texas Legislature and TCEQ to invest more resources in air monitoring to keep Texans safe. Adrian Shelley, director of Public Citizen’s Texas office, released the following statement:
“Since Hurricane Harvey, Texans have demanded that TCEQ respond more quickly to massive pollution events triggered by manmade and natural disasters. The agency received nearly a million dollars from the Texas Legislature in 2019 to upgrade its mobile monitoring vehicles. TCEQ is requesting another $1.5 million in the 2021 legislative session.
“TCEQ must be able to determine when people are in danger from pollution after an incident or natural disaster, and these investments will help the agency improve its disaster response. TCEQ has already improved its response time – starting with air monitoring in East Texas the day after Hurricane Laura moved through in August 2020.
TCEQ Executive Director Toby Baker has said he wants mobile monitoring vehicles permanently located in the petrochemical hubs of Beaumont, Houston and Corpus Christi. We support TCEQ’s efforts to quickly respond to threats and protect public health and safety.”