TCEQ

Courtesy of LCRA

Water from the Highland Lakes is important to everyone in Central Texas — from urban Austinites to rural rice farmers downstream. Wednesday, the board of the Lower Colorado River Authority was set to vote on a much-delayed plan to manage that water, but the authority's board postponed that vote to gather more public input. 

The proposed plan, which would ensure that more water stays in the lakes in times of drought, is widely supported by upstream stakeholders, namely the City of Austin.  But it’s unpopular downstream with agricultural interests that would likely see themselves cut off from water more often. The plan must ultimately be approved by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

KUT News

Texas children are suing the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, claiming the TCEQ should have to protect the quality of the air the same way it’s required to protect the quality of water.

As part of a nationwide movement, the youth are asking the agency to protect water under the public trust doctrine – the historic idea that the state is responsible for the quality of a shared resource.

flickr.com/StuSeeger

Update: Today's the third Ozone Action Day of the year. Austin remains dangerously close to falling out of attainment of the clean air standard of 75 parts of ozone per billion. At last check, Austin was at 72.

“Being a non-attainment area it’s much harder to recruit business. It also accounts for a lot of absenteeism in schools because a lot of children have asthma and air pollution has been found to directly exacerbate asthma in children," Deanna Altenhoff, Executive Director of Clean Air of Central Texas, said.

Today the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and Texas Parks and Wildlife announced a new statewide public service campaign: “Take Care of Texas.”

The campaign featuring a jingle written and performed by Texas country music star Kevin Fowler. The tune stresses the importance of water and energy conservation, especially during this period of extended drought.

Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is taking more time to review the Lower Colorado River Authority’s water management plan. The additional evaluation could take about a year.

The water management plan directs how the LCRA uses lakes Travis and Buchanan to meet the needs of water users. The state wants to meet with stakeholders and collect more data before approving the new plan.

Low/Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/24831034@N08/

If you see a vehicle belching smoke, there’s a way to report it.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality encourages drivers to report vehicles they see that are emitting dirty smoke for more than 10 consecutive seconds.

The TCEQ then sends a letter to the owner suggesting an inspection. Compliance is voluntary.

courtesy flickr.com/yelpar

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the TCEQ counted six illegal piles of tires in Travis County. In fact, the TCEQ has identified only one pile in Travis County with a tire count between 7,300 and 299,999. We regret the error. 

Original story: Next time you’re driving your car, look at all the tires around you. When those tires wear out, they have to go somewhere.

Every year, more than 24 million tires leave the roads in Texas. And many of them are dumped illegally. A proposal before the Legislature today aims to reduce that problem.

City of Austin Watershed Protection Department

The City of Austin and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) are asking the public to come out tonight to be involved in finding solutions for cleaning up four Austin streams.

Walnut Creek, Waller Creek, Taylor Slough and the Spicewood Tributary of Shoal Creek all exceed the acceptable standard for E. Coli. The high levels of fecal bacteria make the streams potentially unsafe for people to get in the water.

flickr.com/chimchim

Central Texas is under an Ozone Watch today and tomorrow.

Watches are usually issued during the summer months when the temperatures are higher and humidity is lower.  And so far this year the area is already dangerously close to exceeding EPA standards. Austin sits at a 74 parts-per-billion average for ozone. If that average jumps to 75 PPB, the area will be in non-compliance. 

“If we get one day at one site in particular, like our Northwest Austin site which has a 79 parts-per-billion eight-hour average … one more at that level will throw us into non-compliance," says Bryan Lambeth, senior meteorologist at Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

Deana Altenhoff, Executive Director of the CLEAN AIR Force of Central Texas, agrees. "Ozone season ends October 31st," Altenhoff says. "This is our most critical time of the year because historically this is when we see our highest levels of ozone." 

(clockwise from left) Umlauf Gallery; photo courtesy flickr.com/environmentblog; photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

Cap Metro Preps Layoffs in Labor Transition; Says Most Employees Will Be Offered Jobs

Capital Metro is laying off more than 800 union employees as it prepares to outsource those jobs to two contractors.

The transit agency says the union workers will be offered jobs under the new operators, as long as they can pass driving and drug tests.

More than 50 supervisors are also being laid off. They are not part of the union so they are not guaranteed new jobs, but will be given first consideration, Cap Metro says.

Photo by Tom Pennington

The Environmental Protection Agency announced a new rule on Wednesday aimed at reducing the amount of mercury and other toxic emissions from power plants. It is unlikely to improve Texas officials' low opinion of the agency.

"This is a victory for public health, especially the health of our children," said Lisa Jackson, the EPA's head, as she announced the rules at a children's medical center in Washington, D.C.

The rules will take full effect in 2016, Jackson said. "Before this rule, there were no national standards limiting the amount of mercury, arsenic, chromium, nickel and acid gases," she said.

Photo by Karen Sheetshttp://www.flickr.com/photos/karensheets/

The Texas House approved a measure 107-34 today urging US Congress to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating greenhouse gas emissions in the Lonestar State.

House Concurrent Resolution 66 (HCR 66) claims that EPA regulations constitute “an abuse of power” and “are projected to cost Texas more than 300,000 jobs” because of higher energy prices and the costs associated with regulatory compliance.

Photo by Austex http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sun_City_Entry.jpg

A 3,500 gallon gasoline spill in a residential neighborhood of Georgetown is being investigated by the state to see how deeply the fuel may have seeped into the ground. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is leading the environmental assessment in the Sun City retirement community.

Image by Nasha Lee for KUT News

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality approved an air permit for the $3 billion Las Brisas petroleum coke-fired power plant in Corpus Christi against the recommendations of two state administrative law judges and the Environmental Protection Agency. (Read the story from KUT.)

The Environmental Protection Agency has partly taken Texas' air permitting program. The EPA will issue greenhouse gas permits to facilities in Texas after today's announcement that states are now obligated to regulate greenhouse gases. Texas is the only state that has chosen not to comply with EPA mandates.

LCRA Sim Gideon
Photo by Matthew Rutledge at Flickr.com: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rutlo/3925707584/

In another round of disagreements, the Environmental Protection Agency is asking the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to take care of water permits that are expired and not in compliance.

The EPA sent a press release yesterday.

Travis Justice Complex
Photo by Erik Reyna for KUT News.

TCEQ Sunset to be Released