Lawmakers defend TCEQ after handheld device snafu

April 29, 2011 4:39:43 PM PDT
Some Texas Congressmen visited the Houston Ship Channel Friday morning to look at what's being done to protect the environment. It comes a day after the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) admitted to Eyewitness News that equipment used to monitor the air after power outages in Texas City provided inaccurate results.

Proud of the TCEQ and the way it monitors air quality around the state, a group of Texas lawmakers put the agency and its high-tech equipment on display.

The idea is to show why TCEQ's testing devices work so well in Texas and why the Environmental Protection Agency should back off when it comes to stricter rules in the state for the emissions testing process because, according to these congressmen, TCEQ has that covered here.

"Great job TCEQ," one lawmaker said.

But earlier this week, there was a major malfunction with a TCEQ testing device after a power outage at three Texas City refineries and one plant. TCEQ initially reported readings so high its monitor couldn't even read them. Later, it revealed those results were inaccurate.

So what do these lawmakers think of that?

"Clearly there was a malfunction with a handheld device, but because it had stationary monitoring systems, continuing air monitoring systems around this community, they were able to quickly identify there was a problem and correct it. And I think that's a critical point here," State Rep. Kevin Brady said.

It was a handheld monitor that TCEQ says failed earlier this week, but despite that, lawmakers say they remain confident in not only that device, but all of TCEQ's equipment.

"I do have confidence in the equipment and in the agency," Brady said.

"I represent parts of Texas City and talking to the mayor and the local officials there, they are very satisfied with TCEQ's response. They felt like they got the information they needed, that they could do respond and do what's right for the citizens, and I trust them," State Rep. Pete Olson said. "There were some problems with monitoring, but they were very happy with what they were getting and TCEQ when they found the problem, they stepped up and fixed them."

It's a problem TCEQ is hoping won't happen again.


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