Update: January 2013
On January 23, plans for the proposed Las Brisas pet coke plant were suspended after Chase Power, the parent company incorporated to build the plant, announced that it was going out of business. Chase Power has opted to suspend permitting efforts for the facility while it looks for alternative investors. The company cited financial conditions, lower natural gas prices, and new regulatory requirements set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as reasons for halting plans for the plant. The project has also faced numerous permitting obstacles, with a District Court judge most recently ruling that the air permit failed to meet requirements of the Clean Air Act.
Sierra Club, the Clean Economy Coalition and other local allies have been fighting this dirty project for years, and are celebrating this victory for clean air and public health in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Update: December 2012
On November 26, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sent Las Brisas a letter highlighting a number of deficiencies with the company’s greenhouse gas permit application for the proposed pet coke facility. A copy of the letter is available in the related documents section below.
Update: September 2012
On August 21, 2012, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality appealed the District Court's decision to the Third Court of Appeals in Austin, Texas.
Update: July 2012
In a huge victory for public health and clean air, District Court Judge Stephen Yelenosky has issued an order reversing the air permit for the proposed Las Brisas pet coke plant. Judge Yelenosky sided with Sierra Club and its allies on several issues, ruling that the air permit failed to meet requirements of the Clean Air Act. On another front, on July 27, Environmental Integrity Project, on behalf of Sierra Club, submitted comments on the draft water permit for the Las Brisas plant. Copies of the comments and Judge Yelenosky’s order are available in the related documents section below.
Update: May 2012
Great news! On May 14, Travis County District Court Judge Stephen Yelenosky issued an opinion letter rejecting key components of the air permit for the proposed Las Brisas pet coke plant. Siding with Sierra Club and its allies, Judge Yelenosky found that the air permit fails to comply with maximum achievable control technology (MACT) standards designed to cut mercury and other hazardous air pollution, and national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution. The District Judge also agreed that the air permit must account for secondary emissions that will occur from off-site material handling and transporting pet coke to the plant. The flawed air permit will likely be reversed or remanded to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). A copy of the opinion letter is available in the related documents below.
On another front, TCEQ has issued a draft Texas Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (TPDES) water permit for the Las Brisas plant, which is now available for public comment.
Update: January 2012
Las Brisas’ greenhouse gas permit application for the proposed pet coke plant is still pending before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Region VI. Currently, EPA is reviewing nine other greenhouse gas permit applications for facilities in Texas, and in November 2011, issued its first greenhouse gas permit for the Thomas C. Ferguson plant, a natural gas facility in central Texas.
Update: October 2011
On October 28, Chase Power Development LLC, on behalf of Las Brisas, submitted an application for a Prevention of Signification Deterioration (PSD) Air Quality Permit for greenhouse gas emissions for the proposed pet coke facility. A copy of the application is available in the related documents section below.
Update: August 2011
On July 13, Sierra Club and its allies sent a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), urging the agency to require the Las Brisas pet coke plant to comply with greenhouse gas permitting requirements. EPA has issued the “Tailoring Rule”, requiring large sources of global warming pollution that are permitted on or after January 2, 2011, to regulate their greenhouse gas emissions. Texas has repeatedly refused to permit greenhouse gas emissions, and in response, EPA has issued a temporary rule to allow the agency to take over air permitting authority in the state. The proposed Las Brisas pet coke plant will undoubtedly be a large emitter of greenhouse gas emissions, and is therefore required to set permit limits to regulate global warming pollution.
Update: May 2011
On May 9, Sierra Club and Clean Economy Coalition appealed the final air permit for the proposed Las Brisas pet coke plant to the Travis County District Court. In the petition, the groups highlight a number of deficiencies in the air permit, including the failure to set maximum achievable control technology (MACT) limits to control hazardous air pollution from the plant. A copy of the petition is available in the related documents below.
On April 18, 2011, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality issued the final air permit for the proposed Las Brisas pet coke plant.
Update: February 2011
On February 18, Sierra Club, as part of a coalition of environmental groups, sent a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), urging EPA to take action and prevent construction of two proposed power plants whose air permits fail to meet important Clean Air Act requirements. EPA has expressed serious concerns with deficiencies in both Las Brisas and White Stallion’s air permits, and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has failed to respond. EPA should therefore take action to prevent construction of these facilities that, if built, would expose neighboring communities and Texas citizens to illegal levels of harmful air pollution.
Update: January 2011
Over the objections of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and environmental groups, and against the recommendations of the administrative law judges, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has approved the final air permit for the proposed Las Brisas Energy Center.
On January 24, EPA sent a letter to TCEQ expressing strong concerns about the public health and environmental impacts of the proposed project, and asked the Commission to delay issuing the permit until the agency’s concerns were addressed. On January 26, the Commission completely ignored EPA’s letter when it approved the air permit at a packed hearing in Austin. Opponents of the project have 20 days to file a motion for rehearing with TCEQ.
Update: December 2010
On December 1, the administrative law judges once again recommended against issuing the final air permit for Las Brisas’ proposed pet coke plant (decision available below). The judges agreed that the air modeling for the proposed facility failed to show that the plant would not contribute to air pollution in violation of national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS).
Update: October 2010
TCEQ Commissioners will gather on October 15 to discuss the schedule for the case regarding Las Brisas' air permit remand, but a hearing is tentatively scheduled for October 18-21. Briefing is expected shortly thereafter, during the first week of November, and the administrative law judges are expected to issue a proposal for decision on the remanded issues by December 10, 2010. To view the docket for this case, click here and enter TCEQ Docket Number 2009-0033-AIR.
Update: July 2010
Despite the administrative law judges’ recommendation, on June 30, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality voted to take another look at the air permit application for Las Brisas’ proposed petroleum coke-fired power plant (decision available below). The Commission ruled that the project is not subject to maximum achievable control technology (MACT) requirements, exempting Las Brisas from regulating dangerous hazardous air pollutants from the plant, and has given Las Brisas the opportunity to amend its application. To read more, click here.
Update: March 2010
Good news! On March 29, the administrative law judges issued a decision recommending that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality deny the air permit for Las Brisas’ proposed pet coke plant (available below). The judges recognized several deficiencies with the air permit: it does not properly account for secondary emissions that will likely occur from off-site material handling and transporting pet coke to the plant; the best available control technology (BACT) analyses for total particulate matter and other air pollutants are inadequate; and the permit does not contain a maximum achievable control technology (MACT) analysis to limit hazardous air pollutant emissions from the proposed plant, among other things.
Update: December 2009
The contested case hearing on Las Brisas’ draft air permit concluded on November 12, 2009. At the hearing, environmental groups, doctors and residents spoke out against the proposed plant, raising concerns about the plant’s potential impacts on public health and the environment. The administrative law judges involved in the case will likely issue a recommendation (for either approval or denial of the air permit) in March 2010 and the final decision from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is expected in the summer of 2010.
Update: September 2009
On September 4, Sierra Club filed a response with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in support of Environmental Defense Fund’s motion (filed on August 28) claiming that Las Brisas' draft air permit is in violation of the Clean Air Act. Under the Act, if a separate facility will be used to operate a plant, an applicant must treat the two units as one “major stationary source” and include emission limits for the second facility in its air permit. Las Brisas plans to use the Las Brisas Terminal Company for bulk handling and storage of pet coke, lime and other plant materials, which will undoubtedly increase emissions at the site. Yet Las Brisas failed to consider the adjacent facility’s air pollutant emissions in its air permit application, in violation of the Act.
Update: May 2009
A contested case hearing regarding Las Brisas’ draft air permit is expected in November of 2009.
Update: February 2009
On February 15, the Clean Economy Coalition - a group of concerned citizens in Corpus Christi - gathered over 200 people to march along the Corpus Christi bayfront in protest of the proposed Las Brisas plant. The following day, coalition members - including many health professionals and medical doctors - expressed their concerns about the proposed plant at a news conference held at the Corpus Christi City Hall. Members argued that the facility would worsen air quality and cause more health problems in an area where the number of asthma cases is roughly twice as high as the state average. Many coalition members are likely to participate in an upcoming contested case hearing regarding Las Brisas’ draft air permit, which was issued January 14, 2009.
On May 19, 2008, Las Brisas Energy Center, LLC submitted an air permit application to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) for a 1200 MW petroleum coke fired power plant in Corpus Christi, TX. Las Brisas has plans to build the facility on the same site as Tondu Corporation’s IGCC plant that was abandoned in 2007 - on a strip of land along the Corpus Christi Bay.
The proposed facility would be a huge emitter of carbon dioxide and other air pollutants and local environmental groups, such as the Lone Star Chapter of Sierra Club, are actively fighting against the plant and urging Las Brisas to invest in cleaner, more efficient energy alternatives.
See Case Documents and Other Related Information
Password required - contact the Sierra Club Environmental Law Program.