In August, 1995, Barry McBee took over as chairman of the TNRCC, and things began to change. The level of respect for citizens seemed to drop off sharply. I received no response to my request for a public hearing. When I called, I was referred to the legal department, and a senior legal staffer hung up on me rather than answer the question, "Why didn't you respond to my request for a public hearing?"
I never got a reply -- I later discovered that the legal department had apparently been instructed to "grandfather" the McDonough Marine facility. In September, 1995, the TNRCC had notified McDonough that since its facility had been in business since 1968, the entire facility would be officially "grandfathered." TNRCC voided its own draft permit, and pretended the new application did not exist.
The TNRCC took this action despite the fact that this was new construction -- an $80,000 addition to McDonough's existing facility -- and McDonough's own permit application had described its construction as a "new grass-roots facility." The products the company planned to use (and is indeed now using) included methyl ethyl ketone, toluene, xylene, oxides, silicon, resins, volatile organic chemicals, and particulate matter -- much of which will end up in the air Houstonians breathe, and in the water of the ship channel.
At a bare minimum, it would seem that the granting of such a permit should require a public hearing to address the inevitable consequences -- but the McBee TNRCC chose to avoid public discussion altogether.
Grandmother, Citizen, Activist, Channelview