Texas Control Over Pollution Program Challenged
(16 July, 1996 — Austin, TX) The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) today filed a petition with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to withdraw its delegation of the enforcement of the Safe Drinking Water Act to the Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission (TNRCC). Recent changes in Texas law have resulted in the state’s Underground Injection Control program no longer meeting the minimum standards of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. As a result, the state of Texas has failed to protect its public drinking water supplies, has let polluters evade enforcement of the Safe Drinking Water Act, and has failed to allow adequate public participation in permit proceedings and enforcement actions.
Texas disposes of three times more waste in its injection wells than any other state. Almost 20% of all US well-injected waste is disposed of in Texas. Total amount of toxic liquids disposed in injection wells in Texas is over 100,000 pounds per year. Texas also has 7 of the 10 commercial injection well facilities in the US.
“Overzealous deregulation in the state legislature has resulted in Texas no longer having the ability to effectively enforce this pollution program as required by the Safe Drinking Water Act,” said EDF senior attorney Jim Marston. “Because Texas has abdicated its responsibility, EPA must protect the people of Texas from hazardous waste and other chemicals that can seep into their drinking supply.”
“The audit privilege law also undermines the public’s right to know about exposures,” said EDF scientist Dr. Ram