Texas Environmental Justice Group Celebrate Victory- Commission Grants Group a Hearing on Legal Challenge of Flint Hills Permit
Local Environmental Justice Group Celebrate Victory
Commission Grants Group a Hearing on Legal Challenge of Flint Hills Permit
(Corpus Christi, Texas) Corpus Christi based Citizens for Environmental Justice (CFEJ) celebrated a major victory: the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has granted CFEJ a contested case hearing on the Flint Hills Resources (FHR) West Plant proposed air permit 8803A that would increase emissions on several contaminants, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and carbon monoxide (CO).
"I have lived by Flint Hills for years and have had concerns about the refinery and possible health impacts," said Jim Miller, a CFEJ member who lives close to the plant.
On Wednesday, September 24, 2008, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (Commission) ordered that the CFEJ be granted a contested case hearing.
The next phase will be a preliminary determination of CFEJ's standing to determine if CFEJ member Jim Miller is an affected person. If the Administrative Law Judge determines that Mr. Miller is an affected person, the ALJ may conclude that CFEJ has satisfied the requirements for associational standing.
"We raised real and valid issues with the FHR permit, and the Office of Public Interest Counsel agree with most of our issues," said Suzie Canales, Director of CFEJ. "These permits should not be rubber stamped; they should be examined closely in an effort to protect the community. This is what we are doing and this is a tremendous victory. We are interested in meeting with Flint Hills to negotiate this matter for the best interest of the community,"
Of the issues raised by CFEJ, the Office of Public Interest Counsel (OPIC) supports the following two:
FHR's permit should require direct measurement of all emissions which are not currently subject to direct monitoring.
FHR's permit should require the refinery's LDAR program to use Fourier Transformation Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) or a portable VOC detection device, and the permit should require leak minimization within 24 hours of identification and leak repair within 7 days of detection.
The OPIC further recommended that the Commission direct the Executive Director to change FHR's permit to incorporate two of CFEJ's suggestions set. A letter from the Public Interest Counsel's (August 29, 2008) stated that the two issues CFEJ raised could lead to a permit which is more protective of human health and the environment.