Tag Archives: air permit

EPA is Still Messing with Texas

In the wake of EPA Region 6’s recent decision to overturn TCEQ-issued air permits for 40 companies, EPA fired another shot at The Alamo.  The EPA is offering Texas companies with the approximately 130 affected air permits the opportunity to have third party audits conducted with a promise of enforcement leniency in exchange.  The pre-publication version of the announcement is posted at EPA Region 6 website here, as well as the 30-page agreement that audit participants must execute with EPA.

Noteworthy aspects of the agreement include:

–       Highly prescriptive requirements for third party auditor independence and report certification

–       Detailed requirements for the scope of the audit

–       Audit report content, format and submission requirements – including taxonomy for supporting document attachments

–       Mandates and specifications for emissions-related Community Projects to be entered into by the audit participant and approved by EPA

–       Separate specifications for the NSR portion of the audit and related report

–       The model Consent Agreement and Final Order (CAFO)

Companies interested in participating in the audit program should conduct a thorough review – with legal counsel – of the language contained in the agreement and CAFO documents.  Although we at Elm are not lawyers and do not dispense legal advice, these documents do not appear to provide protection against fines and penalties.

EPA Messes With Texas

The Associated Press says that EPA will prevent the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) from issuing an air emissions permit for the Flint Hills (Koch Industries) Refinery in Corpus Christi.  The permit will be issued directly by EPA and is likely to contain substantive differences from the permit proposed by TCEQ.

Further, by June 30 EPA will invalidate 39 more air emissions permits affecting 140 plants in Texas as a result of a dispute between EPA Region 6 and the TCEQ.

Al Armendariz, [EPA Region 6 Administrator] said the EPA will issue its own permit for the independently owned Flint Hills Corpus Christi East Refinery, and in the coming days begin to do the same for 39 other plants, including facilities owned by Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp., ConocoPhillips and Dow Chemical Co.

The EPA objected to 40 permits issued by Texas late last year, Armendariz said, partly because they included so-called “flexible permits” that the agency says allow the industry to emit more pollutants than allowed under the federal Clean Air Act. Texas created its flexible permit system in 1994, but it was never officially approved by the EPA.

AP further stated that

at least five years [may be needed] to unravel Texas’ rogue permitting process and learn how much air pollution is being spewed by the nation’s largest refineries.