Town hall meeting scheduled: TCEQ is focus

By by Dianna Wray
Sept. 25, 2010 at 4:25 a.m.

Richard Gill can see the lights of the coal-fired Coleto Creek Power Station from his house.

"Most people don't see it, and if it's out of sight, it's out of mind. But the emissions going into the air and the things going into the water will affect people whether they see it or not," Gill said.

After learning of plans to add a second coal-fired unit at the power station, Gill and a group of residents contacted the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, requesting that Coleto not be allowed to expand until they had cleaned up the first plant.

Their request was denied, but Gill said he learned a lot through his dealings with the TCEQ.

Now, he is acting as the Committee for the Crossroads Town point organizer for the Crossroads Town Hall on the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality from 7 to 9 p.m. Monday at the Victoria College Student Center, 2200 E. Red River.

The meeting is intended to give local residents the chance to learn how to deal with the TCEQ. The state agency is in charge of monitoring and reviewing permit requests for environmental issues, Gill said.

The TCEQ is up for review by the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission and the town hall is designed to give area residents the chance to tell Sen. Glenn Hegar what they think of the organization and to suggest improvements.

Hegar is the chairman of the commission.

"They take comments, but it's hard to get face-to-face with them or to really make contact. This is a chance for residents to talk to TCEQ, to share their concerns with actual representatives," Gill said.

In addition to Hegar, other scheduled speakers include former commissioner of the TCEQ Larry Soward and environmental lawyer Adam Friedman.

"This meeting will give residents an inside scoop on how the TCEQ works ... There's a lot of frustration here with the public and the way TCEQ has handled the permits," Friedman said.

The Texas Sunset Advisory Commission reviews state organizations to find if they are serving their purpose and to suggest any improvements to the organizations.

Gill said he's hoping for a large audience because the work of the TCEQ affects everyone.

"If they breath the air or drink the water they need to be concerned about the actions of the TCEQ." Gill said.



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