Sapien reports that:
Prominent doctors in the east Texas medical community are concerned that TCEQ may have failed to force TXU to adhere to its federal emissions limits. “The tools I have to help people suffering from chest disease and respiratory ailments are fairly limited, and if they [TCEQ] are letting polluters exceed their limits, then they are counteracting what we are trying do here, as physicians,” said Dr. David Coultas, a pulmonologist at the University of Texas Health Center at Tyler, one of the nation’s most prestigious lung and chest disease research institutions, located about 25 miles west of Martin Lake. He said many of his patients complain that their symptoms are intensified on days when air pollution is particularly bad.
Texas citizens are addressing health and environmental threats through grassroots activism, lawsuits and lobbying. Records gathered by the Center for Public Integrity show that, “air quality enforcement came at the point of a citizen lawsuit, not from the agency (TCEQ).” However, citizens are facing a “formidable opponent” in their efforts to ensure clean air.
According to Texans for Public Justice, TXU and two investor groups spent approximately $17 million during the 2007 Texas legislative session on lobbyists, advertising, food and beverages, entertainment, and gifts — including sending 2,400 tacos to legislators and their aides on the first day of the session. TXU is never a slouch when it comes to lobbying. During the 2006 election cycle, according to another Texans for Public Justice report, TXU gave contributions to all but seven members of the Texas Legislature.
In addressing the causes of reporting discrepancies that have allowed TXU, other coal-fired power plants and oil companies to over-emit, “Eric Schaeffer, the former EPA official, said the findings show the need for TCEQ — and the legislature — to rethink whether TCEQ’s self-reporting system actually works.”