July 18, 2007
Victory and Challenges – White Is Out as TCEQ Chair; Strong Environmental Steward Is Needed
Statement of Tom “Smitty” Smith,Director of Public Citizen’s Texas Office
The fact that Kathleen Hartnett White, chairman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), announced she would leave her post is a victory for those in the environmental community who recently began calling for her ouster. Although state officials claim they were aware of her impending departure, it wasn’t until Public Citizen put up a billboard calling for her to be replaced that state representatives told the public of White’s plans.
Whether pressure from environmental advocates hastened her departure is beside the point. Now we must focus on finding the best person for what will be a very challenging job. The state needs to drastically reduce air pollution in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston areas. It must figure out how to deal with the growing threat of mercury poisoning of the fish in our lakes and rivers — poisoning that can ultimately hinder the neurological development of children. And it must draft a plan – and quickly – to deal with global warming.
This means that Gov. Rick Perry must appoint a strong environmental steward to the position. The next TCEQ chair must take these issues more seriously than did White.
Note: Go to GetWhiteOut.com for more information.