The agreement was signed by Houston Mayor Bill White and Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan.
With the city’s tools to detect polluters and the county’s legal muscle, it means there are no jurisdictional boundaries protecting air polluters. Mayor White says before, evidence of companies violating air standards was difficult to pinpoint. That has changed with the help of a state-of-the-art mobile ambient air monitoring laboratory.
“It was very highly circumstantial evidence of who was responsible for putting large amounts of cancer causing chemicals in the air. Now, with these machines, we can pinpoint it. If there is butadiene or benzene coming up from a particular source. So, it’s not just a matter of holding people accountable, it’s being able to give the attorneys proof when they go to court, of where the stuff came from.”
County Attorney Ryan says there are many polluters who don’t think they will get caught.
“This mechanism can show, as the mayor said, exactly where it’s coming from with evidence and once we have that evidence, combined with other evidence we have, we think we have a case against anybody who’s especially consciously polluting.”
Ryan says access to the kind of data the mobile laboratory can generate will enhance the ability to hold polluters accountable. Houston hopes to form a similar partnership with the Texas Commission on Environmental
PH, KUHF—Houston Public Radio News.