Texas' Unwritten Policy Protects Big Polluters from Citizen Complaints
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has been denying citizens the ability to challenge air pollution permits if they live more than a mile away from the polluting facilities, even though such a policy is not found in state law or TCEQ rules. This arbitrary "1-mile rule" has been used consistently by the TCEQ to restrict public challenges to air pollution permits, allowing big polluters to avoid more rigorous permitting processes and stricter pollution control requirements. Environmental advocates argue that this practice is unlawful and prevents people from having a meaningful voice in the permitting process for polluting facilities in their communities. Texas environmental groups have filed petitions with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) alleging that TCEQ unlawfully restricts access to judicial review, and the use of the 1-mile rule is now being challenged in federal court.