Groups File Petition on Texas's Weak Air Permit Program

The state of Texas violates the Clean Air Act and its own State Implementation Plan through repeated weak permitting decisions concerning new coal plants and other large polluting facilities, according to a petition filed Jan. 17 with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Earthjustice and Environmental Integrity Project filed the petition on behalf of Environmental Defense and Sierra Club, citing seven ways that Texas routinely administers the Clean Air Act illegally.

"The state fails to comply with legal requirements intended to protect the health and welfare of its citizens, when other states are doing their fair share," said Jim Marston, attorney with Environmental Defense. "Federal law doesn’t allow Texas to be the lone ranger and ignore the law."

The petitioners request that EPA impose one or more of the following sanctions: prohibit construction of new stationary sources, such as large power plants or refineries; withhold highways funds; or implement reduction of offsets from other pollution sources in the state.

"Texas Commission on Environmental Quality's air program has been acting illegally by issuing permits for new coal plants that allow unsafe levels of pollution," said Neil Carman with the Sierra Club's Lone Star Chapter. "The state's permits are effectively sabotaging efforts to reduce smog-forming pollution."

"In Texas, we’ve got a state environmental agency more interested in serving industry than in enforcing our pollution laws," said Environmental Integrity Project senior attorney Ilan Levin, representing Sierra Club, "This is a state renowned for lax environmental enforcement, issuing weak permits, and basically thumbing its nose at federal law, so we’re asking EPA to do its job."

"Texas has a responsibility to protect its citizens, not the profits of these polluters," said Earthjustice attorney Tim Ballo. "Where this state has failed to follow the law, we now turn to the EPA to do the right thing and limit air pollution for all Texans."

Ratliff Elected Chair of ASTM Tech Committee

Senior Project Manager Alison Ratliff, based in HDR's Las Vegas office, was elected to a two-year term as chairman of ASTM International's Committee F36 on Technology and Underground Utilities.

The committee meets annually in January at the Underground Construction Technology conference and has jurisdiction over nine standards published in the Annual Book of ASTM Standards, Volume 04.12.

Work done by approximately 230 members of the committee is focused primarily on areas related to water, sewer and natural gas systems. Five technical subcommittees maintain jurisdiction over the standards. Ratliff was previously named chairman of subcommittee F36.60 on Infrastructure Asset Management.

Ratliff has been with HDR since 2002 and has 22 years of management and project delivery experience, primarily in the water industry.

Established in 1898, ASTM International is one of the largest international standards development and delivery systems in the world. ASTM standards are accepted and used in research and development, product testing, quality systems and commercial transactions around the globe.

HDR is an employee-owned architectural, engineering and consulting firm with
more than 6,600 professionals in more than 150 locations worldwide.

ENSR Receives Environmental Project Award

ENSR was awarded ENR/McGraw Hill's "2007 Award of Merit" from New York Construction magazine in the environmental project category. ENSR, part of AECOM, is a global environmental services provider.

The award recognizes ENSR's role in the Nyack (N.Y.) Manufactured Gas Plant Remediation project. The project, with an approximate value of $15 million, involved the cleanup of an Orange and Rockland Utilities, Inc., site along the Hudson River where manufactured gas was produced from coal during the 1800s and early 1900s. ENSR has been working on the site since 1996, to address coal tar contamination resulting from historical plant operations.

In addition to its site investigationefforts, ENSR designed the remediation and managed contractor bidding and selection, as well as the construction of all phases of work from 2005 - 2007. The project also garnered praise from New York State regulators for ENSR's use of in-situ solidification (ISS). This process traps or immobilizes contaminants within the soil, instead of removing them through chemical or physical treatments. This is believed to be the first ISS remedial method to be approved and implemented in New York State for organic contamination.

"We’re proud that a remediation project of this size and scope successfully achieved its important cleanup goals," said ENSR Senior Project Manager Timothy Olean. "The redevelopment of the site into a highly visible riverside green space is a tremendous turnaround and an asset to the community."

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