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Letter to the editor

May 23, 2012 at 12:23 a.m.

As of this Thursday's edition of the Matagorda Advocate, we have about 77% of this month of May securely within our recent experience. It has been an eventful 77%. Before we close out 100% on the 31st however, I would like to recall a happy highlight that came back on the 1st when we were only about 3.25% along. I refer to the news that the Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) had announced its decision to continue Matagorda County's air quality designation as being in attainment.

Recall that the E.P.A. had preliminarily moved to include Matagorda County in the eight-county Houston Galveston non-attainment area (resulting in a nine-county non-attainment area), pending feedback from the several interested groups, governmental agencies and officials, public entities, and interested citizens. The combined effort resulted in a wealth of additional information for E.P.A. to work with, which in turn resulted in a good decision. Thanks are due to E.P.A. for its cooperative objectivity as well as its expertise.

Thanks are due to all of the folks here in Matagorda County who pitched in to assist in the cause, particularly, Matagorda County Judge Nate McDonald and Bay City Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture President Mitch Thames for carrying the message so well. Thanks to our former representative, Mr. Tom Uher. Thank you's are also due for all the support given by our elected officials in Austin and Washington, D.C. Thanks to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for its support with extensive data and science expertise. (I personally found information available on the internet through T.C.E.Q. that was especially helpful.)

This success is provisional in character however. There yet remains the threat of the White Stallion coal/pet coke project that, if it is built, will ruin all of the good that has been accomplished. If White Stallion comes on line, Matagorda County's ground-level ozone causing emissions will skyrocket thereby sending our county into non-attainment for decades. And ozone causing emissions are only one part of the environmental degradation, deteriorated health, and damage to fishing and agriculture that the project will make for us. Even now, White Stallion's attorneys are suing E.P.A.

because they believe that the recently lowered mercury emissions standards that apply to everyone else should not apply to them.

Which reminds me of one other group who deserves a thank you right about now: our own, locally grown No Coal Coalition. This group has been carrying most of the fight against White Stallion from pretty early on, even though the coal outfit had the head start. The group's work, expense, public outreach and excellent allies have gone the longest way toward holding off construction of the polluting monstrosity so far; their efforts were a big reason why Matagorda County even had a case to make for maintaining our air quality attainment designation. They too have done much to make this air quality victory possible.

David T. Spencer



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