Pollution Rules Suspended Since Harvey Go Back Into Effect

State regulators suspended pollution limits after Harvey in an effort to speed up the response and recovery.

Pollution rules suspended since Hurricane Harvey in counties hit by the storm are now back in effect.

Thursday afternoon, Governor Greg Abbott's office lifted waivers on the rules that cover pollution from refineries, cars and other sources. The move comes at the request of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which said it originally suspended the rules to speed up the response to Harvey and the recovery. The TCEQ said it had been in talks with the governor's office about reinstating the rules for weeks.

The governor’s decision also came just a day after a coalition of Texas environmental groups asked for the rules to be reinstated, saying the waivers posed ongoing health risks to people across southeast Texas and were no longer needed more than seven months after the storm.

One of the groups, Public Citizen, said it’s happy with the outcome and thanked Abbott, but said there could still be public health consequences from the rules being waived.

“Generally, we don’t think that rule suspensions are appropriate,” said Adrian Shelley, the group’s Texas director. “TCEQ can always chose not to fine facilities that pollute during a disaster.”

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