Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

Larry Soward

TCEQ versus EPA

This fight between the TCEQ and the EPA, or more broadly between polluters and people who like to breathe, has been coming for a long time.

Environmentalists are excited by the EPA’s new aggressive posture and hope it prompts an overhaul of the TCEQ and Texas environmental regulation in the sunset process.

Former TCEQ Commissioner Larry Soward, who is helping environmentalists prepare for the fight, fears the opposite is about to occur.

“I’m almost concerned that there’s going to be a legislative backlash and the Legislature is going to join the governor and the agency and say, ‘Hell, no!’” Soward said.


Soward, a former Perry aide, said the fundamental problem of the TCEQ is that state law set it up to favor industry. He said he often had to vote for permits he did not like because state law does not allow the agency to change a permit up for renewal without the operator’s agreement.

“We have a culture at the agency and in the state that economic interests are more protected … than the environment,” Soward said.

Well, yeah. This is Texas, and that’s how our Republican government rolls. If you haven’t already, you really need to read this Observer story about the extreme, radical, pro-industry slant the TCEQ has taken under Rick Perry. I really can’t stress this sort of thing enough: If you care about pollution, about clean air, about clean water, about ensuring the citizens have a voice in what various polluting industries want to do, you need to vote for change in the Governor’s office. Just read the section in the Observer story with the sub-head “TCEQ vs The People”, about what happens when a giant chicken-raising business moves in next door to you. What remedies would you want to have if it happened to you? Whatever you thought of, the TCEQ isn’t interested in letting you have them. That’s how it is, and it’s how it will be as long as we have the government we have now.