Wednesday, June 2, 2010

U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess calls on Texas AG to investigate state's environmental agency

I have heard a lot of reassurances from oil and gas industry representatives. The most common is in regards to a lack of need for county-based regulations. This comes in the form of a statement like "there are already regulations and entities that enforce them, so why on earth would you want unnecessary regulations that will negatively impact business?" Well, I think the article below is a clear illustration of why counties need to take responsibility for their own well being.

11:57 PM CDT on Tuesday, June 1, 2010
By PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE / Denton Record-Chronicle

U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess has called on the Texas attorney general to investigate the state's environmental agency, following an audit report that showed agency officials may have withheld information about toxic compounds found near natural-gas facilities.

"They have a credibility problem now," Burgess, R-Lewisville, said of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. "That's what's so disturbing. It calls into question virtually everything else they have done so far. You don't like to be treated dismissively."

Burgess had asked for a briefing on the TCEQ's air quality work, which the agency provided in late April. At the time, he wasn't as concerned about findings in Fort Worth as much as he was the Denton County findings, but no mention was made of the TCEQ audit. He said he was troubled that agency officials were sitting on the information.

The call for a full investigation could help restore confidence in the agency, Burgess said.

"We continue to work with both the public and elected officials to keep them informed of TCEQ's air quality activities in the Barnett Shale area," agency spokesman Terry Clawson said in a prepared statement.

The TCEQ audit followed a Feb. 3 complaint sent by e-mail to the agency's fraud division. According to the audit report, dated March 25, leadership in the TCEQ compliance division knew early on that, during a December air quality study of natural-gas facilities in Fort Worth, inspectors used equipment that was not sensitive enough to detect toxic compounds, including the carcinogen benzene, at long-term screening levels. More>>>