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elizabeth riebschlaeger  
Cuero, TX  
July 6, 2012 3:36pm
 
It is a good bet that Mr. Neely and his associates at the Armstrong Center for Energy and the Environment are one a few of the many PR entities assigned to argue negatively with regard to the EPA's role in the energy industry. Sen. John Cornyn and Texas Railroad Commissioner Barry Smitherman made their objective with regard to the federal Environmental Protection Agency clear at the Eagle Ford Shale Consortium closing in March with their ringing calls for ridding Texas "business" (aka powerful corporate giants) of EPA interference. There is a clear campaign in progress to give the oil and gas industry even more license to wreak their will on the Texas environment. But there are other stories and reasons why those following the issues related to this industry's record of pollution (BP the most famous event and perhaps the only one of which Texans are conscious) are very grateful to know the EPA has set up office in Dallas (focus of the revival of tv’s "Dallas", the story-icon of corrupt living). Just ask Harvey Hayek of Fayette County how well the Texas Coalition on Environmental Quality served him and his father-in-law's 3,000 tree pecan orchard small business as they issued yearly waivers for 20 years that allowed the coal-burning plant there to spew forth 6 times the EPA's allowed amount of sulfur dioxide emissions. Result: 3,000 killed pecan trees and a ruined three-generations old family business. (See Austin American-Statesman story, Dec.10, 2010). Scientific testing showed SO2 in their leaves and tree rings. The EPA would not have allowed this, the Hayek orchard would be functioning today, and Harvey Hayek's father-in-law would probably still be alive. A flyover in the Fall of 2011 by a better-performing TCEQ pointed out more than 35 oil and gas storage tanks with deadly hydrogen sulfide gas emissions pouring out into the air near livestock in fields, homes and roads around Dewitt and surrounding counties. These toxic vapors are invisible to you and I, but clearly photographed by infra-red cameras. The TCEQ sent out investigators to call operators to accountability for not observing the laws protecting the air you and I and our children breathe. Next up are the Texas Railroad Commmission's investigations (we hope) of poorly operated, faulty old oil wells and new toxic waste disposal wells cropping up around the counties of our once quiet rural counties where people live or come to breathe clean air, drink clean water and enjoy the beauty of rolling hills and giant live oak trees. I for one am thankful the EPA has come to Dallas. Before they did, we could not count on the oil and gas industry, or the coal-burning industry to show us or our environment and health due respect. Perhaps at least some of these judges' decisions should have done the same, given the record of Range and other companies in other states in cases they did not win or which are still pending. I only hope the TCEQ, the TRC and their Commissioners will take their role to protect Texans' air, water and soil as seriously as they take their role to promote the oil and gas industry in Texas. Citizens, their property and their small businesses deserve at least equal consideration. Then the EPA can shut down their Dallas office and go home, but only then.
     
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