November 25, 2014
On October 31, 2014 he Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) handed over the reins of the Texas greenhouse gas (GHG) permitting program to state regulators, ending a three-year battle between the federal and state governments, according to an Argus news report.
In its announcement EPA said it approved Texas’ permitting program for new and modified stationary sources, including power plants and refineries, and rescinded a federal plan that had been in place since 2011. “We have always believed that states are best-equipped to run the GHG permitting program and have been tireless in our effort to work with them to do so,” EPA regional administrator Ron Curry said.
The decision means permitting authority for GHGs and conventional pollutants such as SO2 and NOx is now solely under the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ)
“While the state of Texas continues to disagree with the EPA program to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions, the TCEQ has a system in place to ensure timely permitting that provides stability and predictability to our State’s regulatory framework,” TCEQ chairman Bryan Shaw said.
States generally have the responsibility to administer Clean Air Act permit programs. But when EPA started requiring GHGs in Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) and Title V permits in 2011, Texas refused to go along and filed several lawsuits against the agency. EPA took over the state’s GHG permitting, while Texas maintained responsibility for permitting of conventional pollutants. A bill passed by the state legislature last year directed the TCEQ to take over the GHG permitting.
The US Supreme Court in June overturned part of EPA’s GHG permit requirements, known as the tailoring rule. The rule required sources to obtain pre-construction PSD or Title V operating permits for GHG when the emissions exceeded certain thresholds. The court said EPA could not require permits solely on the basis of GHG emissions, but that it could include them in permits that sources would have to obtain anyway for other pollutants.
EPA said it has received 83 GHG permit applications from Texas businesses since 2011. Texas is No. 1 in the country for receiving EPA-issued GHG permits – with over 50 permits being issued by EPA. Of the 189 GHG permits issued nationwide, EPA has completed 61 and the states have issued 128 permits.
What this means to you
The EPA has approved TCEQ to issue GHG permits for new and modified stationary facilities. It has approved the State Implementation Plan (SIP) and rescinded the Federal Implementation Plan (FIP) thus making TCEQ the primary permitting authority in Texas. EPA and TCEQ will continue to work closely with pending permit applicants during the transition period and ensure no unnecessary project delays result from this action.
MIRATECH can help
Contact MIRATECH to discuss emission compliance options in Texas for new or modified stationary facilities.