On October 5th, Waco Friends of Peace/Climate joined the “Protect the Rio Grande & Eagle Pass Residents from Toxic Water” protest in Austin at the Travis County Courthouse. Organized by the Beyond Coal Campaign, the protest was against Dos Republicas open pit coal mine’s renewed wastewater discharge permit.
The case is Maverick County et al vs. Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). Basically, the suit is the county, citizens, and environmental groups suing the TCEQ for approving the renewal of the permit for the coal mine, whose toxic pond is contaminating the Elm River, which feeds the Rio Grande.
The protest group consisted of about 40 activists. There were Native Americans and people from Austin, San
Antonio, Houston, Eagle Pass, Dallas -- and three FOP/C members from Waco.
The hearing was three hours long, with Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) lawyers arguing against TCEQ lawyers. The young EDF lawyers were very good presenters, and they had the facts to back up their arguments. TCEQ lawyers were weak on facts and presentation style. The plaintiffs seemed to clearly win the debate, demonstrating contamination of some 30 groundwater samples around the open pit. The judge definitely questioned the TCEQ lawyers firmly with few questions for EDF lawyers.
The judge’s decision is pending, but the case is expected to go to higher courts. FOP/C was there in solidarity and as part of our goal to SHUT DOWN all fossil fuel infrastructure. We feel certain the judge was influenced by our sea of white shirts and felt the environmental concern.
THANKS to Ana & Serena Rigby for their participation & endurance.
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