14 February 2023 – The latest news & press release

We wanted to share this press release which outlines EPA’s investigation of the TCEQ for their failure to enforce the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts, both of which TCEQ is responsible for enforcing for all permitted activities within the state. Links in the press release will take you directly to the documents being referenced.

Please keep in mind that the City of Granbury DOES NOT have a final permit for construction of a sewage plant on Old Granbury Road. Our attorneys have appealed TCEQ’s recommendation to grant a permit for the plant, so the court system will be deciding the merits of our case, which clearly demonstrated that the proposed sewage plant does not meet TCEQ’s own minimum standards and will result in degradation of the environment.

With your support, we have been fighting this plant since March 2020. And, with your continued support, we will continue this fight throughout the entire legal process available to us. We are confident that we will prevail because this facility clearly violates the Clean Water Act. Keep in mind that even though the City of Granbury has had ample time to develop and implement plans for an alternative site (almost 3 years now and counting), they prefer to blame GranburyFresh and our supporters for delaying their ill-conceived project. They blame the years long development moratorium on our fight to protect the environment, Lake Granbury, and our neighborhoods; and continue to cite numerous monetary and job losses caused by insufficient sewage treatment capacity instead of accepting responsibility for their failure to provide adequate infrastructure in a timely manner.



For Immediate Release
January 31, 2023

Clean Water Advocates Claim Texas Not Meeting Minimum Protections for Air and Water Quality;
Must Take “Corrective Action” or Risk Losing Authority Over Clean Water and Clean Air Programs

Media Contacts:
Becky Smith, Clean Water Action TX, 617-314-2347
Eric Allmon, Attorney, 512-469-6000
Annalisa Peace, Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance, 210-275-9336
Steve Box, Environmental Stewardship, 512-300-6609
Alex Ortiz, Sierra Club Lone Star Chapter, 512-923-4487

Texas — United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials are conducting an investigation into whether Texas’s environmental regulators are fully carrying out their delegated duties under the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Acts. In a letter dated January 24, 2023 (letter linked here), the EPA’s Region 6 Acting Regional Deputy Administrator explains that there is an ongoing informal investigation.

In short, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) is being investigated by EPA for failure to carry out the protections required by the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Acts. Residents upset or concerned about their local water quality and air quality have joined with other advocates to lodge legal complaints that set these reviews into motion. Water violations enforcement petitioner information link here; air violations enforcement petitioner information link here

Acting Regional Deputy Administrator, Charles Maguire, states, “If proven to be true, the allegations outlined in the Petition are concerning. As noted in our discussions, CWA § 402(c)(3) provides that whenever the EPA ‘determines after public hearing that a state is not administering a program approved under this section in accordance with requirements of this section, he shall so notify the State and, if appropriate corrective action is not taken within a reasonable time, not to exceed 90 days, the Administrator shall withdraw approval of such program.’”

“The Clean Water Act is largely carried out by individual states across the country, allowing great flexibility in the process and manner used to achieve protecting water, humans, and the natural environment. When one or more states is doing a poor job — either deliberately or by accident — the federal government has always been understood as a backstop to assure that these critical protections are achieved,” said Becky Smith, Clean Water Action Texas Director.

Retired CWA Director, David Foster, said: “Delegating the authority to enforce the federal Clean Water Act to a state only works if that state actually follows the law. The TCEQ’s failure to do this has exposed Texas waterways and the people and ecosystems that depend on them to enormous risk. It’s time for the EPA to take matters into its own hands.”

Elements of concern under investigation include:

· The TCEQ places the burden on members of the public to prove that a permit violates legal requirements rather than requiring that parties applying to pollute prove that they will be doing so at legally acceptable levels;

· TCEQ creating unlawful barriers to public participation and judicial review of permitting decisions; and

· TCEQ’s failure to recognize large volume water-polluting projects as “major facilities and subsequent denial of consideration for wastewater effluent discharge as pollution that can degrade receiving waters.

Taking “corrective action” could be done by the Texas Legislature’s currently open sunset review process and directions to the TCEQ by legislation. A report issued by the Sunset Review Staff of the Texas Legislature states “TCEQ’s Policies and Processes Lack Full Transparency and Opportunities for Meaningful Public Input, Generating Distrust and Confusion Among Members of the Public.”

According to Annalisa Peace, Executive Director of the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance, “The TCEQ is not effectively engaging citizens in protecting our natural resources. As Texas becomes more densely populated, uniform enforcement of EPA regulations are (sic) essential if we are to maintain the quality of life that Texans currently enjoy.”

“Environmental justice communities like my neighborhood along Refinery Row in Corpus Christi, Texas, already suffer from disproportionate water and air pollution,” said Lamont Taylor, officer of the Hillcrest Residents Association. “We are asking EPA to fix Texas’ water and air permitting programs to protect Hillcrest and all communities across the state and ensure that we have a meaningful voice in the review of these permits.”

Steve Box, Executive Director of Environmental Stewardship, commented, “Despite the Clean Water Act’s goal of maintaining water quality, Texas has systematically enabled significant degradation of the Colorado River and many other rivers in the State. Hopefully, this investigation will address those systematic problems.”

“It’s not surprising as TCEQ continues to fail Texans.” said Alex Ortiz, Water Resources Specialist from the Sierra Club Lone Star Chapter. “The ongoing Sunset review process of TCEQ clearly found that the agency is a “reluctant regulator,” shirking its responsibilities under the Clean Water Act. As EPA continues its investigation, we must focus on doing our part to fix this broken state agency.”

Short of a solution at the legislature, such as adoption of the recommendations issued by the Sunset Review Staff and budgeting funds adequate for robust enforcement by TCEQ of EPA mandated Clean Water and Clean Air acts, the citizens of Texas would be better served by the EPA assuming management and enforcement of the Acts.