Local Environmental Group Ready for Their Close-Up

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Posted September 14, 2010 by eric.griffey in Blotch

North Texas-based environmental group The Downwinders at Risk today announced that it’s publicly opposing a new permit from TXI’s Midlothian plant. The group will launch a wave of local television ads critical of Governor Rick Perry and Texas air quality policies themed: “enough to make you sick.”

Jim Schermbeck, the group’s director, said that TXI wouldn’t submit such an environmentally damaging proposal were Perry not the governor.

“His state environmental agency is fighting the EPA over many of the very things that make this a dangerous application, including the lack of any public participation,” he said in a press release. “In its request, TXI goes out of its way to claim that ‘no federal review is required, but admits that air pollution will increase by over 2,500 tons a year. TXI may not think that EPA involvement is necessary, but we sure as heck do.”

Last month, TXI, which recently shut down four cement kilns in Midlothian, submitted a permit amendment to the state requesting permission to burn seven different kinds of waste at their only remaining kiln, including plastic garbage, car interiors, and asbestos. The permit also asks permission to increase the amount of six major pollutants.

According to TXI, the request is not subject to public notice or any public hearings. Commissioners of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality – two of whom were appointed by Perry – will decide the fate of the permit amendment.

The ad campaign is a collaborative project involving several different regional and statewide environmental organizations that contributed to the effort, but is paid for by the Downwinders at Risk Education Fund.

The ads are an unprecedented step for local environmentalists, as they will cost $150,000. Schermbeck believes the ads are the largest media campaign ever launched by environmental groups in connection to a DFW permit fight and shows their high level of commitment to protecting regional public health.

“This is not a symbolic campaign, it’s a strategic one,” he said.


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