The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality this month quietly approved a new air quality permit that will no longer require federal oversight of emissions of the GAF shingle manufacturing plant in West Dallas.
In June 2021, more than 120 community members delivered public comment that alleged the plant’s pollutants had caused respiratory and other health problems among the disproportionately Latino neighbors who lived near it. They believed the plant’s existence violated the federal Clean Air Act of 1990. State Rep. Jasmine Crockett, D-Dallas, helped those community organizers secure a hearing that challenged the renewal of the company’s permit to operate, which federal law requires state environmental agencies to monitor. The manufacturer has operated on Singleton Boulevard since 1946.
Those speakers successfully lobbied the TCEQ to increase the frequency of emissions monitoring from once every three months to once a week. But that testing isn’t necessary if the state deems that GAF’s emissions are below federal requirements. Some now question whether GAF’s successful revision to its state permit was designed to avoid the more rigorous requests the Environmental Protection Agency would have ordered under what is known as a Title V permit.
Janie Cisneros, the spokesperson for the Singleton United/Unidos group that has pushed for GAF to leave the community, was unaware that a new permit had been issued. Cisneros and her neighbors began demanding GAF’s exit earlier this year, saying the emissions from the factory have caused a variety of health problems, including an increased incidence of asthma.
“Wow. I mean, just…wow. Oh my God,” she said on Tuesday afternoon. “How does this happen?”