City Persists in Opposition

Mayor John Cook has said the city will continue its efforts to prevent Asarco's smelter from restarting, despite the decision by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to renew the smelter's air permit.

"This battle is far from over. The fight to create a clean, healthy El Paso that is free of deadly pollution will continue. The recent decision to renew Asarco's air permit is a disappointment, but it is not a defeat," Cook said.

The TCEQ's decision to grant Asarco an air permit to resume operations shows the city has a lot more work to do, Cook said. The City of El Paso recently appeared before the bankruptcy court to seek permission to begin legal proceedings to revoke Asarco's state air permit. According to Mayor Cook, "There are clear grounds for revoking a permit based on non-compliance and we believe a solid case for revocation exists against Asarco."

"We also plan to immediately appeal the decision by the TCEQ. Based on Asarco's own record and projections, the health of the residents of El Paso will be endangered by elevated levels of arsenic and lead for generations to come if the smelter resumes operations. In the face of such a clear, long-term and preventable health threat, I cannot stand by and allow that to happen," Cook said.

The City of El Paso welcomes business, Cook said, but it is important that those businesses are consistent with protecting the health and welfare of its citizens and complement the City's vision.

"The City of El Paso and its residents are working hard to become a healthier, more prosperous, forward-looking city. We are a growing, vibrant population center and we stand ready to encourage the development of clean, good-paying jobs for our citizens in the areas of health care, education, manufacturing and international trade," Cook said.