How can we make a difference in the air and wastewater permits sought by Exxon?

By Errol A. Summerlin

The PCU has aggressively fought the designation of the reinvestment zone and tax abatements granted by our county commissioners and school board.  We have done so with energy, enthusiasm, and small expenditures of funds for outreach.  While our advocacy did result in raising public awareness and a number of important concessions by Exxon, our local officials acquiesced to the pressures of economic growth.

GCGV has now applied for its air permits from the TCEQ.  It will also seek a wastewater permit.  While we as a group, and individuals such as yourselves, will have an opportunity to comment on their applications for permits, these are extremely complicated matters, matters that require legal counsel and experts to analyze emission projections, assess health risks, or otherwise recommend emission control technology.

There are broad areas to challenge: the air quality, wastewater discharge, mobil air toxins from construction and traffic.  It is a daunting task when two giants, Exxon and SABIC, are combining their resources to get this through the process as quickly and economically as possible.

We all know that advocating for a denial of permits by TCEQ will be a steep battle.  What we can expect to accomplish with challenging the permits is a safer, more environmentally friendly complex that reduces air emissions and protects our bays and estuaries.

While we consider options to address the potential costs of challenging these permits, we would be remiss if we did not acknowledge the work of the Sierra Club that relies heavily upon individual memberships.

The Sierra Club is the nation’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization. Locally, they helped stop the building of Las Brisas and they are no friend of Exxon. They have been successful in suing Exxon for multiple violations of air quality standards in Baytown. The Sierra Club is involved in numerous advocacy efforts across the nation.  The local chapter has joined us in co-sponsoring our new petition.  While there is no guarantee that the Sierra Club will be able to assist in our battle, we urge all who visit this page to take a moment to join the Sierra Club. It’s a small investment that could have a meaningful impact on our efforts.  Visit the Sierra Club website at and click Join.

Errol A. Summerlin is a retired attorney, Portland resident, and supporter of Portland Citizens United, a grass roots organization opposing the Exxon/SABIC project.