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Mar 20 2018

Anderson Shifting Responsibility for Foreign Pollution Blowing into Texas

Anderson says Texans will no longer be held responsible for offsetting billions of dollars in foreign pollution impacts under his TCEQ chairmanship

(Houston) – March 20, 2018 – Letter from the Editor

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Billions of dollars are being spent by Texas citizens and Texas industry to reduce foreign pollution impacts (see link and link).  As TCEQ Chairman this will stop.  We will pursue a course where Texans no longer are held responsible for this pollution.  The simpler system I’m advocating will hold all of us more accountable for our own pollution, but will stop the absurdity of requiring us also to be responsible for pollution blowing in from other countries that we cannot control.


Right now for example, TCEQ assumes that not even one molecule of foreign pollution blows into the Houston region.  The difficulty for the agency is that if they were to assume such a truth, the agency would be forced to acknowledge that it’s requiring Texas industry and citizens to offset this pollution for attainment demonstration purposes—or that this foreign pollution is contributing to nonattainment.   TCEQ doesn’t want to do this.  I don’t understand why they won’t, but they won’t.  Certainly it’s difficult to determine how much foreign pollution is in the air, but to assume its zero is simply an untruth—and forestalls potential solutions to this part of the problem.

Foreign pollution impacts is an easy concept to understand

Foreign pollution impacts and how the current Clean Air Act deals with them (or doesn’t deal with them) is an easy concept to understand.  Here is a video demonstration using a simple glass of water.

It’s a small multi-pollutant world after all

The world has become increasingly smaller—not only economically and electronically, but environmentally.  It has become a “small multi-pollutant world after all”.  China and India for example have grown.  We also understand more about the impacts of different pollutants on each other and how pollutants can move around the globe.

One world.  One atmosphere. 

For this reason, and to avoid the absurdity of continuing to make states ultimately responsible for foreign pollution they cannot control, my Clean Air Act re-write intimates the development of a global multi-pollutant agreement called “AGAPE” or the Accord on Global Air Pollution and the Environment.  AGAPE would create the world’s first multi-pollutant agreement addressing not only CFCs and carbon, which have been part of past global treaties, but VOC, NOx, SOx, toxics, particulate matter, and other air pollutants that move around the globe.  There are environmental, economic, and political synergies to considering these issues comprehensively.

A comprehensive approach

It makes economic and environmental sense to begin approaching these increasingly global issues together–comprehensively.  The pollutants interact.  The solutions interact.  The economies interact.  The countries must interact.

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The world is changing.  We must change with it.  Time for a new approach to addressing global pollution.

As Texans we can lead the world.  Time for our rugged independence and can-do attitude to shine.

Jed Anderson is the editor of TexasEnvironmentalNews.com. Anderson is a principal attorney with the AL Law Group–and a former attorney with Baker Botts and Vinson & Elkins and an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Houston Law School where he taught the Clean Air Act.  In addition to his legal practice, Anderson has become a national leader over the past 15 years and a hub for Clean Air Act reform efforts–writing articles, gathering people and ideas, speaking across the country, writing a book, helping to lead national efforts to transform the Act, and even himself re-writing the Act (for more information, see www.cleanairreform.org).    


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