The heat on the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to hold a hearing in Aransas County regarding Steel Dynamic’s permit applications continues, but there has been no official word from the state agency letting local officials know if that will come to pass.

A letter to the editor from Jennifer Shaw, J.D. in the Jan. 8 edition of The Rockport Pilot spurred Aransas County Judge C.H. “Burt” Mills to pen his own letter to TCEQ Executive Director Toby Baker. The judge’s letter, which was presented during the Aransas County commissioners’ regular meeting Jan. 13, was published in the Jan. 15 edition.

Shaw has now written her own letter to the TCEQ. It reads:

Ladies & Gentlemen

of TCEQ,

I am writing with reference to Steel Dynamic’s applications to TCEQ for water quality and air quality permits relating to their proposed new steel manufacturing plant in San Patricio County northeast of the City of Sinton.

As is indicated in TCEQ’s Notices of permit applications for that project, would you please schedule a public hearing about the permit applications and the project to be held in Aransas County Texas at the earliest possible date.  I suggest that you contact our Aransas County Judge C.H. “Burt” Mills, Jr. at (361) 790-0101 or our Aransas County Attorney Kristen Barnebey at (361) 790-0114 to ask them to help you arrange a public building as the location of the public hearing on Steel Dynamics Permit Applications to TCEQ.  There are at least four large rooms with chairs in Aransas County where you could hold the public hearing.

I also request that you immediately send a copy of Steel Dynamics/Hanson Engineering’s complete air quality and water quality permit applications, with full copies of all backup documents provided to TCEQ by the permit applicants, to the Aransas County Public Library located at 701 E. Mimosa St., Rockport, TX 78382 so that members of the public in Aransas County may review those materials without having to leave our county.

I note, for the record that the majority of the waters of Copano Bay are physically located within Aransas County as is the majority of the shoreline of Copano Bay.  Those waters, properties and the legal entity of Aransas County and its taxpayers, voters and residents will be directly affected by water pollution and air pollution which the applicants propose you allow them to create in Aransas County by way of permits issued by TCEQ.

I also note, for the record, that TCEQ has engaged in a pattern and practice of utterly failing and thereby refusing to give formal written notice of permit applications to TCEQ for water quality and air quality permits and enforcement actions directly affecting dry real estate and the waters of Aransas County to the legal entities of Aransas County and Aransas County Navigation District for major industrial projects including, but not limited to, the Saudi/Exxon cracking plant which will discharge its surface waste water into Copano Bay, the desalination plant which will discharge its highly salty waste water into Redfish Bay, this steel manufacturing plant which will discharge its industrial waste water into Copano Bay and the Aransas Tidal River, and the already existent, physically failing industrial waste water detention impoundment ponds in Aransas County (the “Red Beds”) owned by Chapter 11 debtor Sherwin Alumina and conveyed to Copano Enterprises LLC pursuant to settlement agreements, including one in 2018 to which TCEQ was a party.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Shaw, J.D.

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