Oct 18, 2021 - News

Texas illegal emissions dropped in 2020 but increased in Dallas area

Smoke billows near power lines

Photo: Samuel Corum for Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Illegal emissions dropped statewide in 2020, but North Texas saw an increase in unauthorized pollutants, according to a report from the Environmental Integrity Project and Environment Texas.

Why it matters: 2020's pollutant decline was mostly due to pandemic shutdowns of manufacturing and oil and gas production and not due to increased enforcement of environmental protections, the report says.

  • The report calls for Texas to increase penalties levied on companies for unauthorized emissions.
  • "The fear is that we're just going to return to normal of having high levels of illegal pollution," Luke Metzger, the executive director of Environment Texas, tells Axios.

Details: Texas industrial facilities released in 2020 more than 46 million pounds of unauthorized emissions, including benzene, nitrogen oxides and particulates. That was down from about 100 million pounds in 2019.

  • Dallas-Fort Worth released 192,220 pounds of illegal pollutants in 2020, a 37% increase from the prior year.

The D-FW increase was largely due to a few incidents, including a fire at plastic manufacturer Poly-America in Grand Prairie.

What they're saying: "We don't want to rely on economic disasters or public health disasters to reduce air emissions. We want the state to do that," Gabriel Clark-Leach, a senior attorney at Environmental Integrity Project, tells Axios.

Yes, but: While lower illegal emissions is something to cheer about, the report only includes emissions that are reported to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.


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