EPA dissatisfied with Texas clean-air permitting

Key aspects of the Texas clean-air permitting program do not meet US Clean Air Act requirements, the Environmental Protection Agency said in a Sept. 8 news release from its Dallas office.

Paula Dittrick
OGJ Senior Staff Writer

HOUSTON, Sept. 9 -- Key aspects of the Texas clean-air permitting program do not meet US Clean Air Act requirements, the Environmental Protection Agency said in a Sept. 8 news release from its Dallas office.

EPA proposes to disapprove parts of the Texas air permitting program. The CAA requires states develop permitting plans that are approved by EPA. Previously, Houston Mayor Bill White and others have pushed for stricter air pollution regulations for refineries and petrochemical plants along the Houston Ship Channel.

The federal agency’s rejections are expected to become final next year following a 60-day public comment period. Meanwhile, EPA said it will work with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, industry, and environmental groups to identify and adopt changes in the state program.

“Texas’ air-permitting program should be transparent and understandable to the communities we serve, protective of air quality, and establish clear and consistent requirements,” said Lawrence Starfield, EPA acting regional administrator. “These notices make clear our view that significant changes are necessary for compliance with the Clean Air Act.”

EPA proposes to reject Texas’ flexible permits, which allow air polluters to exceed emission limits in certain areas provided that those areas achieve an overall emissions average. EPA also plans to reject Texas rules that allow air polluters to make certain changes at plants without having to schedule public hearings.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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