Tomorrow the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality meeting in Austin will have an unusual audience—a whole passel of parents who are none too happy about the bid by Valero Energy Corporation for a tax refund from TCEQ that would come at the expense of Texas school districts.
The parents gathering at TCEQ on Wednesday are part of the Texas Organizing Project (TOP), a grass-roots network of community groups looking out for the interests of low-income and moderate-income Texans. They can’t see why Valero or any other company should get a retroactive pollution-control tax break for installing new equipment that actually increases pollution at the production site. Neither could the TCEQ regulatory staff, who rejected the Valero claim, but commission members appointed by Gov. Rick Perry have directed the staff to reconsider. So the matter remains pending at TCEQ.
Local Texas AFT affiliates such as the Houston Federation of Teachers have joined forces with TOP to oppose this corporate grab for a tax break that would pull millions of dollars out of school districts’ budgets. The folks at TOP quote a supportive article from the Houston Chronicle that states the issue well: “A tax time bomb is ticking at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality that could cost Texas counties, school districts, and other entities millions of dollars through exemptions for oil refiners. It’s an unjustified sop to the energy industry that needs to be defused as soon as possible.”
Texas AFT encourages you to help the cause by signing a petition urging the TCEQ members to “say no to Valero!” You’ll find the petition posted at this link on the TOP Web site: http://www.organizetexas.org/saynotovalero. There you’ll also find a tally of potential losses for individual school districts if Valero’s retroactive tax-rebate claim is approved.
For more background on this issue, see the Texas AFT Hotline posted September 26 at this link: http://www.texasaft.org/?p=1284.