A Billion-Pound Problem: How Excess Emissions Ballooned in Texas
An investigation by Grist reveals the extent of excess emissions in Texas, where numerous industrial facilities consistently release more pollution into the air than their permits allow. This practice occurs during malfunctions, unexpected power losses, and natural disasters such as hurricanes. Grist's analysis of industry-reported pollution data from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) reveals that companies have released over 1.1 billion pounds of pollution beyond permit limits since 2002. The Gulf Coast and the Permian Basin, known for fracking and petrochemical plants, have seen the highest frequency of unauthorized pollution events. These excess emissions, including nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, and carcinogenic chemicals, have harmful effects on public health. The lack of enforcement by state regulatory agencies, along with exemptions and outdated regulations, has allowed these emissions to continue largely unpunished. As extreme weather events become more frequent due to climate change, excess emissions are expected to increase further, exacerbating environmental and health risks.