11. SUSTAINABLE CITIES AND COMMUNITIES

Texas quietly moves to formalize acceptable cancer risk from industrial air pollution. Public health officials say it’s not strict enough.

Texas quietly moves to formalize acceptable cancer risk from industrial air pollution. Public health officials say it’s not strict enough.
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Texas quietly moves to formalize acceptable cancer risk from industrial air pollution. Public health officials say it’s not …  The Texas Tribune

Texas quietly moves to formalize acceptable cancer risk from industrial air pollution. Public health officials say it’s not strict enough.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Proposes Maintaining Inadequate Cancer-Risk Level for Air Pollution Permits

Introduction

  • The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has proposed maintaining a target cancer-risk level for air pollution permits that is considered inadequate by scientists and public health officials.
  • This proposal has raised concerns, especially for communities exposed to multiple sources of industrial emissions.
  • The TCEQ’s decision to maintain the current risk level comes after a state commission on accountability found public distrust and confusion focused on the TCEQ.

TCEQ’s Proposal and Public Response

  • The TCEQ proposed formalizing its existing target cancer risk level of 1 in 100,000 without public hearings or additional study.
  • Public health officials and environmental groups have criticized this proposal, calling for a lower target risk level to protect individuals living in high-risk communities.
  • The City of Houston, home to the nation’s largest petrochemical complex, has also requested tighter standards from the TCEQ.

Target Risk Levels and Cumulative Impacts of Pollution

  • The target risk level determines the volumes of carcinogenic emissions allowed in Texas, a major hub for the oil, gas, and petrochemical industry.
  • The TCEQ’s target risk level of 1 in 100,000 is considered the “logarithmic center” between the EPA’s upper limit of 1 in 10,000 and target level of 1 in 1 million.
  • Scientists argue that the assessment method used by the TCEQ under-represents the actual risks faced by communities near industrial complexes, where cumulative impacts of pollution can be significant.

A Tradeoff of Costs

  • Scientists suggest that agencies can lower their target risk levels to account for cumulative effects, which generally raise the overall cancer risk from emissions.
  • However, lowering the target risk level may impose additional financial burdens on businesses that require air pollution permits.
  • Public health advocates argue that the costs should be placed on big industry, considering their profits and the availability of pollution control technology.

Concerns about Transparency and Public Input

  • The Texas Sunset Commission’s report on the TCEQ highlighted a concerning degree of public distrust and confusion regarding the agency’s transparency and ability to regulate in the public interest.
  • The report recommended that the TCEQ affirmatively adopt its policies and provide opportunities for public input on regulatory standards.
  • Community advocates and environmental groups have expressed disappointment with the TCEQ’s lack of transparency and limited opportunities for public participation.

Alejandra Martinez of The Texas Tribune contributed to this report.

Disclosure: Exxon Mobil Corporation has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations, and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism.

SDGs, Targets, and Indicators

1. Which SDGs are addressed or connected to the issues highlighted in the article?

  • SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 13: Climate Action
  • SDG 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions

2. What specific targets under those SDGs can be identified based on the article’s content?

  • SDG 3.9: By 2030, substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water, and soil pollution and contamination.
  • SDG 11.6: By 2030, reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality and municipal and other waste management.
  • SDG 13.2: Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies, and planning.
  • SDG 16.7: Ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory, and representative decision-making at all levels.

3. Are there any indicators mentioned or implied in the article that can be used to measure progress towards the identified targets?

  • Indicator for SDG 3.9: Number of deaths and illnesses attributed to hazardous chemicals and air, water, and soil pollution and contamination.
  • Indicator for SDG 11.6: Ambient air pollution levels in cities (e.g., particulate matter concentrations).
  • Indicator for SDG 13.2: Proportion of countries with integrated climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction, and early warning measures incorporated into national policies, strategies, and planning.
  • Indicator for SDG 16.7: Proportion of population satisfied with their last experience of public services (as a measure of inclusive and participatory decision-making).

Table: SDGs, Targets, and Indicators

SDGs Targets Indicators
SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being Target 3.9: By 2030, substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water, and soil pollution and contamination. Indicator: Number of deaths and illnesses attributed to hazardous chemicals and air, water, and soil pollution and contamination.
SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities Target 11.6: By 2030, reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality and municipal and other waste management. Indicator: Ambient air pollution levels in cities (e.g., particulate matter concentrations).
SDG 13: Climate Action Target 13.2: Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies, and planning. Indicator: Proportion of countries with integrated climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction, and early warning measures incorporated into national policies, strategies, and planning.
SDG 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions Target 16.7: Ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory, and representative decision-making at all levels. Indicator: Proportion of population satisfied with their last experience of public services (as a measure of inclusive and participatory decision-making).

Behold! This splendid article springs forth from the wellspring of knowledge, shaped by a wondrous proprietary AI technology that delved into a vast ocean of data, illuminating the path towards the Sustainable Development Goals. Remember that all rights are reserved by SDG Investors LLC, empowering us to champion progress together.

Source: texastribune.org

 

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