Skip to main content

The “1-mile rule”: Texas’ unwritten, arbitrary policy protects big polluters from citizen complaints

It’s not found anywhere in state law or the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s rules, but for years the agency has denied citizens the ability to challenge air pollution permits because they live more than a mile away.

Max Midstream’s Seahawk Oil Terminal sits about four miles across Lavaca Bay from a jetty at Port Lavaca, Texas.

TCEQ central headquarters in Austin on July 26, 2023.

The 1-mile standard 

“Rule of thumb”

Inline article image
John Beard pictured in Port Arthur on July 2, 2018.
Citgo’s Corpus Christi refinery behind a home in the Hillcrest neighborhood in October 2022.

Legal complaints 

The case of Max Midstream

Max Midstream's Seahawk oil terminal at the Port of Calhoun County on June 7, 2023.
Diane Wilson stands in Port Lavaca, across Lavaca Bay from the Formosa Plastics Corp. facility, pictured on July 23, 2023. Christopher Baddour/Inside Climate News
Curtis Miller, owner of Miller’s Seafood, stands by his shrimping fleet at the docks of Port Lavaca on Lavaca Bay.

Texans need truth. Help us report it.

Support independent Texas news

Become a member. Join today.

Donate now

Explore related story topics

Energy Environment State government