The Sierra Club on July 6 slammed a decision by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to approve a wastewater discharge permit renewal and expansion for the Dos Republicas coal mine near Eagle Pass, Texas.
Several Native groups, elected officials, as well as environmental and social justice advocates held a demonstration and press conference at the agency’s headquarters in Austin to speak out against the coal mine and its toxic wastewater. Local community members are concerned, after experiencing a fish kill and learning about coal mining pollution, that the Dos Republicas mine is contaminating Elm Creek and the Rio Grande River with toxic chemicals and heavy metals that make the water unsafe for drinking and recreation, the club said. It added that all of the coal is sent to Mexico to be burned “in some of the dirtiest power plants in the hemisphere.”
“It is extremely sad and disappointing to witness the TCEQ rubber-stamping this permit, making it impossible for the people of Eagle Pass and Maverick County to preserve and protect their water,” said Tane Ward, Senior Organizing Manager for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. “The TCEQ permitting process exists to protect these people from pollution, not put them at risk of exposure to toxic coal runoff.”
This mine is listed with the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration as the Eagle Pass surface mine, which is under the Camino Real Fuels LLC unit of contractor operator North American Coal. The mine got a production start in 2014, produced 715,112 tons in 2015 and then 460,539 tons in the first quarter of this year.