Lax Regulation of Texas Air Polluters
At Texas refineries and other high-pollution sites, lots of excess emissions are entering the atmosphere (and adjacent lungs) with few consequences. According to a report in the Texas Tribune by Kiah Collier and Ryan Murphy, "thousands of such rogue releases occur at Texas industrial sites each year. They are known generically as 'emissions events'—a term that refers to both malfunctions or 'upsets' and unplanned 'maintenance, start-up or shutdown' activities."
"Last year, there were 3,723 of these rogue releases at 774 industrial sites across the state, according to the Tribune's analysis. That's more than 10 per day on average." In 2016, those emissions events accounted for 57.9 million pounds of excess air pollution.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality usually administers a slap on the wrist, and is often incapable of doing more. "The companies [...] save huge amounts of money by delaying maintenance and upgrades that would've prevented the emissions in the first place. And knowing the state probably won't do anything about them means they have no incentive to do so."