Pollution from refineries and chemical plants is making people sick, but regulators largely look the other way when big polluters break the law. Despite everyday illegal pollution events in 2019, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has only financially penalized companies just 3% of the time since 2011. In other words, polluters got away with no penalty for 97% of illegal air pollution events. On top of lax enforcement from TCEQ, loopholes like the affirmative defense are widely abused by industry.
According to a recent study published in the journal Environmental Research, air pollution from fossil fuels was responsible for more than 17,000 premature deaths in Texas in 2018.