EPA takes on more air-quality permits in Texas

The US Environmental Protection Agency said it was taking over the issuances of operating permits for Chevron Cedar Bayou chemical plant in Baytown, Tex., and the Garland Power & Light natural gas-fired Ray Olinger plant on Lake Lavon in Collin County, Tex.

By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, June 15
-- The US Environmental Protection Agency said it was taking over the issuances of operating permits for Chevron Cedar Bayou chemical plant in Baytown, Tex., and the Garland Power & Light natural gas-fired Ray Olinger plant on Lake Lavon in Collin County, Tex.

“If you wish to continue operations, you must apply to EPA for your permit by Sept. 30,” said an EPA letter to the Chevron chemical plant. The announcement is the latest in a running dispute between EPA and Texas officials over state air-quality regulations.

On May 25, EPA’s Region 6, based in Dallas, forced the Flint Hills Resources refinery in Corpus Christi, Tex., to reapply for an air-quality permit it has held since 1995 (OGJ, June 7, 2010, p. 24).

Objecting to flexibility provided by Texas permits, the EPA regional office said it might take over permitting of 39 other facilities.

Texas state authorities are protesting, saying air quality is improving in the state, which they say disproves claims that permit flexibility degrades air quality. On June 14, Texas Atty. Gen. Greg Abbott asked the US 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans to consider EPA’s decision to disapprove some qualified facilities exemptions in Texas.

EPA said the exemption allows some companies to avoid certain federal Clean Air Act requirements. Under CAA, states must develop plans that meet federal requirements. The Chevron Cedar Bayou permit included a qualified facilities exemption.

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