Tag Archives: Houston Ship Channel

Texas AG becomes environmental watchdog

I’ll be candid. I never have considered Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to be much of an environmental watchdog, let alone an activist. 

So, what does the top state Republican legal eagle do? He files a lawsuit against a Houston company that owns a storage terminal that erupted in flames, pouring tons of chemicals into the air.

Intercontinental Terminals has been slapped with a lawsuit over the fires that detonated at its suburban Deer Park storage units. It has closed the Houston Ship Channel, one of the world’s busiest international shipping waterways. The fires have contaminated the air, pouring clouds filled with cancer-causing benzine.

The suit was filed on behalf of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. It alleges that Intercontinental Terminals has filed the Texas Clean Air Act.

The company faces the possibility of stiff fines if the AG wins his lawsuit.

Company faces major fines

Environmental groups are cheering the attorney general on. I want to join them, even though it does surprise me.

Paxton was a GOP legislator from Collin County before he got elected as AG in 2014. He was re-elected to a second term in 2018. He’s had a bit of legal trouble, facing a probable trial on securities fraud later this year. But that’s another story.

I find his lawsuit to be a fairly refreshing and pleasant surprise.

The Deer Park fires have been buggers to extinguish. They have blackened the sky along the Gulf Coast. They have put thousands of Texans’ health at risk.

I stand with AG Ken Paxton in seeking justice.

You want a drink, Texas?

This bit of information might not seem like a big deal in this part of Texas, given our decided lack of surface water — but it is.

Environment Texas — an Austin-based environmental awareness group — says the Lone Star State is the second-worst polluter of water of all 50 states, trailing only Indiana.


The Texas Tribune reports: “Texas polluters released about 16.5 million pounds of toxic chemicals into waterways in 2012, second only to Indiana, according to a report released Thursday by Environment Texas, an environmental advocacy group based in Austin.”

OK, if you’ve been along the Gulf Coast, seen the Houston Ship Channel, or the Intracoastal Waterway, or perhaps driven along the Neches or Sabine rivers you’ll appreciate the findings released.

To be candid, they give me the heebie-jeebies.

The Tribune reports further: “And in terms of a measurement that compares pollutants according to how toxic they are, Texas is without rival. According to the report, Texas produced 34 million “toxicity-weighted pounds” in 2012 — 30 times more than the next state, and more than double the rest of the country combined. Almost all of that toxicity comes from one source: the Dow Chemical Company plant in Freeport.”

In an odd way, these findings make me even more glad to have left that part of the state for the drier region way up yonder.

I lived in Beaumont for nearly 11 years with my wife and sons. My boys boogied away from there to attend college in the early 1990s. My wife and I moved to Amarillo in January 1995 and learned that our water supply comes from deep underground. Our water supply isn’t immune from pollutants, but take it from me, you have to wonder what flows from the many refineries and petrochemical plants into the surface water downstate along those major waterways.

Those plants aren’t the worst polluters. No. 1 is the Pilgrims Pride chicken processing operation in East Texas, according to Environment Texas. According to the Tribune, the plant “dumped 2.8 million pounds of toxic chemicals into the Tankersley River in Northeast Texas, the report says. Most of those toxins were nitrates, chemicals found in fertilizer that can cause infant health problems and oxygen-depleted ‘dead zones’ in waterways.”

So, a word to the wise is in order. Are we monitoring our Panhandle feed lots carefully enough?