Please forgive my absence. The buildup to the EPA hearing in Arlington was intense. I had some company, trips to and from the airport and loose ends. Yesterday I spent the day digging holes in my yard, installing a composter and pulling weeds to fill the composter up. When I heard about the latest crazy to come down from the TCEQ commissioners Governor of Texas, I didn’t have the time or will to address it. But, I’m all refreshed now.
Who the hell do you guys think you are?
You might remember the warnings I issued when Rick Perry appointed Bryan Shaw to be the top environmental official in Texas. Now Shaw wants citizens who are suffering from pollution to pay the polluter millions.
KHOU has the story: Paying more taxes for more pollution?
Valero, the largest refinery in North America, installed an expensive piece of equipment at their refinery that makes the gasoline cleaner but will cause dirtier air emissions from their refinery. They think they should be rewarded for this by receiving a tax credit.
…citing a section of the Texas Tax Code that rewards businesses for improving our local environment, Valero now wants the hydrotreater, valued at $250 million, 100 percent tax exempt.
At first, TCEQ regulators (the guys under Shaw) told Valero, no way. The equipment does not improve the local environment and the products are mostly shipped out of state.
“Hydrotreaters do not provide an environmental benefit to the site,” said Tim Reidy, an attorney representing the TCEQ Executive Director, at a January 13 hearing on the case.
The equipment actually increases the pollution locally. But, the three TCEQ Commissioners Governor Rick Perry owes Valero favors so orders have come down from above to find a way and Shaw dutifully follows orders.
Despite that, the three presiding environmental commissioners decided otherwise, remanding Valero’s appeal application back to the TCEQ staff, to consider a way to give Valero at least a partial tax break.
“It just seems that this warrants looking at further,” said TCEQ Chairman Bryan Shaw
That money has to come from somewhere which means…
At stake, Garcia said, is approximately $5 million dollars a year in taxes in Harris County alone. That is money Valero has already paid and money school districts and local governments have already used. But it would have to be refunded to Valero.
The potential consequence for average homeowners?
“Increase taxes or cut services to make up the refund that they’re going to give Valero,” Garcia said.
The KHOU reporters had some doors closed in their faces and were locked out of public meetings during their reporting of this story.
This tax break benefits the Big Gas Mafia in more ways than you might think. Texas public schools that are already suffering from Rick Perry’s and the Republican’s budget slashing will suffer even further. More Texas children will be uneducated/undereducated. Uneducated workers make great roughnecks for the oil and gas industry because they won’t know how to reason things through and they won’t ask questions. Workers who do what they are told no matter what are the Big Gas Mafia’s dream.