Letters – EPICC Chair addresses questions

To the Editor:
Thank you for the ongoing coverage of the very important issue of the proposed landfill, as well as publication of important notices that relate to this topic. EPICC has received much positive feedback from the community about how invaluable timely and accurate information is to help follow and understand this monumental proposal.
With that being said, please be aware that many people have grown increasingly concerned about some factual inaccuracies recently published by the Lockhart Post-Register (LPR). And please know that I understand that the poor scheduling of the most recent TCEQ meeting by Green Group Holdings (GGH) & TCEQ led to your inability to cover both Chisholm Trail Roundup and this highly attended meeting, which may explain these errors. For ease of communication, the following is a very specific and concise list of the inaccuracies:
1.) The article dated June 19 regarding the public meeting repeatedly refers to the meeting as a “hearing.” There was no judge present and the technical term for the gathering is a “Public
Meeting.”
2.) The editorial from June 12 states that the permit application number for the landfill is 2382. The correct application number is 2383. This is a serious error because if people wish to post comments at the TCEQ website, it could cause confusion and inaccuracies in posting the comments.
3.) The article dated June 19 states that there was a “nearly even split in supporters and opponents of the project.” The imbalance in representation between those supporting GGH and those opposed to the landfill is evident in several ways.
a.) There were a total of 37 comments on the record. Five were for the landfill, one was neutral (Nick Dornack-Plum Creek Watershed District), and 30 were in opposition to the landfill, one of whom spoke twice. Minutes of testimony by speakers for the landfill-16 min 56 sec, testimony by speakers against the landfill-92 min 46 sec. Roughly a 1:6 ratio, not near an even split
b.) A count of the green shirts that the Green Group representatives wore were 43 green shirts out of nearly 200 turned out.
c) The number of letters placed into the record was 70 according to their representatives, but a check of the TCEQ site shows greater than 400 comments opposed to the landfill.
4.) Several of the quotes from concerned citizens at the landfill were inaccurate. The audio recording of the public meeting is available on the TCEQ website if you would like to confirm the statements.
a.) “Many, including Byron Friedrich and Leslie Holder, discussed that the landfill site … is located above aquifer formations.” Byron Friedrich spoke on only SURFACE WATER (floodplain, boundary of landfill, etc). Leslie Holder spoke on the dangers of the SH183/FM 1185 intersection, her son being a first responder to the fatal accident at that intersection last fall and she touched on landfill fires.
b.) “Others, including Ann Collier, asked the Commission to consider the traffic impact, because the site is located at one of the most dangerous intersections in Caldwell County, where several have lost their lives in traffic accidents already this year.” Ann Collier, had two items of comment. She stated that there was not one Air Quality Monitor in all of Caldwell County, .the nearest one 30 miles to the north at McKinney Roughs. Ms. Collier stated she was shocked and concerned that the TCEQ engineers and geologists never set foot on the property they are permitting. They solely take the word of the applicant’s paid engineer and geologist.
c) In the next statement in a separate paragraph referring to the previously quoted individuals states “The impact of additional truck traffic – particularly dump truck traffic – they said, would be disastrous for the community.” None of the three previously mentioned individuals stated this, despite the fact they are given credit for it. When the opposition has mentioned the trucks, they refer to as trash or garbage trucks. A dump truck hauls dirt, rocks, sand, etc. Not at all the same thing.
5) The article also states “Representatives of EPICC, spearheading opposition to the project, did not immediately return request for comment.” Members of EPICC, including the EPICC Chairman James Abshier, Vice Chairman Jodie Friedrich, Secretary Vicki Abshier, Board Member Byron Friedrich and several EPICC members were the last to leave since they were packing up tables, sign, etc. They were never approached. They wore EPICC badges and were easily identifiable. Also, the LPR has contact information for many of the board members, including the Chairman, Vice Chairman and other board members. None reported any attempted contact by a reporter from the LPR.
6.) In closing, the article mentions that the TCEQ will hold another public hearing. It gives the postal information for submitting written comments, but not the email. The article sites the website but does not give the permit application number.
The article states that “As the process continues, TCEQ will schedule another public hearing … “ The TCEQ Public Meeting is not requested by the applicant. The public meeting is requested by the people. In this case EPICC and those opposed to the landfill contacted Senator Zaffirini and Rep. Kleinschmidt and they requested it, and the Public Meeting was automatically  granted by the elected official’s request. Senator Zaffirini issued a letter thanking activists for their letters and saying that she sent a letter to Ms. Bohac at the TCEQ requesting another Public Meeting after all the deficiencies to the application were submitted. TCEQ does not initiate the meeting. The TCEQ may “schedule” another meeting, but only because the Senator has requested it.
I did note that in the last part of the article, both Green Group Holdings and the EPICC website were cited for more information. I appreciate that you gave the contact information for both sides.
Therefore, I respectfully request that LPR publish these corrections in this Thursday’s paper, if possible.
Sincerely,
James Abshier
Chairman of EPICC

**Editor’s note – We published this letter in its entirety, despite our usual restrictions regarding the length of Letters to the Editor, in an effort to allow EPICC to respond equally to the public meeting on June 12. Emails from Post-Register staff to Mr. Abshier were not received in a fashion timely to allow for the organization’s responses in last week’s article. Further, the closing paragraphs of the letter were removed to avoid publishing telephone numbers for members of the EPICC organization. –kb**

1 Comment

  1. Andrew Thompson says:

    I must object to some of the comments made in Mr. Abshier’s letter to the paper concerning their coverage of the TCEQ hearing concerning the proposed landfill, a hearing I attended from start to finish.

    First, his comment concerning LPR’s inability to cover both the hearing and the Chisholm Trail event on the same evening. Since a reporter for the paper was at the hearing the entire time, that is a false statement.

    His statement of 400 comments on the TCEQ website is also false. A check on the TCEQ site on June 28 showed a total of 266 comments regarding the landfill application. Reviewing those comments, I found the majority of those comment were from persons not living in Caldwell county, and many claiming to be adversely effected by the landfill live in such places as New York and California. I call upon TCEQ to reject those comment as irrelevant.

    Mr. Abshier also mentions a comment by an EPICC member concerning the lack of an air quality monitoring station in Caldwell County. This is a claim often made my members of EPPIC.

    Perhaps they are not aware, or chose to ignore air quality monitoring station Austin 11 located at 214 Bufkin Lane in Lockhart.

    Mr. Abshier also objects to speakers being quoted as objecting to the landfill being over an aquifer. Yet, EPICC’s website and handouts claim the landfill site if over an aquifer.

    This issue should be settled on facts, not fear and falsehoods.

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