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Posts Tagged ‘permit application’

The Texas Senate Committee on Natural Resources held its hearing at Houston’s City Hall.

The Texas Senate’s Committee on Natural Resources and Economic Development held a hearing in Houston Thursday, February 1st on two interim charges, the first being on hotel occupancy taxes and the second on regulatory barriers.

The second interim charge reviewed at the hearing states: Identify options to maintain our state’s competitive advantage and make recommendations to remove or reduce administrative or regulatory barriers hindering economic growth, including permitting or registration requirements and fees.

Public Citizen’s Houston-based organizer, Stephanie Thomas, was one of six people to provide invited testimony. Others included representatives from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), the Texas Chemical Council, the National Federation of Independent Business, and the National Energy Association.

Our role at the hearing was to comment on specific aspects of regulation, including the issue of expedited permitting. Public Citizen recommended sufficient funding to the regulatory agencies like TCEQ to thoroughly and effectively review permits. Public Citizen also brought forth issues in reducing public participation that may come from the expedition of permits.

Public Citizen also provided comment on Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s use of exceptional events for determining National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) designation, i.e. whether a location is in attainment or nonattainment for levels criteria pollutants. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, exceptional events “are unusual or naturally occurring events that can affect air quality but are not reasonably controllable using techniques that tribal, state or local air agencies may implement in order to attain and maintain the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. Exceptional events include wildfires, stratospheric ozone intrusions and volcanic and seismic activities.”

Public Citizen argued that the TCEQ should not use exceptional events to make it seem as though an area is in attainment of an air quality standard when it is not. This practice of using exceptional events to avoid nonattainment status is particularly dangerous because people still have to breath air pollution regardless of whether it comes from a refinery or it comes from agricultural fires in Mexico.

Many of what seems like regulations to industry are public safeguards, with tangible benefits to human health and quality of life.

To read Public Citizen’s written testimony, click here: Regulatory Barriers hearing comments – Public Citizen.docx.

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The TCEQ granted a permit to re-open the ASARCO foundry over protests of staff, residents of El Paso, and local leaders. Luckily, the EPA intervened and stopped it.

You’ve probably heard by now.  The TCEQ has failed to adhere to the federal Clean Air Act, jeopardizing our health, our safety, and the quality of our air. This is why, on Tuesday, May 25, the EPA took over the TCEQ’s authority to grant clean air permits for 40 facilities across the state of Texas, most notably the Flint Hills Resources’ crude oil refinery near Corpus Christi.

The TCEQ has failed to fulfill its promises to the federal government and the citizens of Texas, whom it is supposed to protect.

The Sunset Advisory Commission is a 12-member body appointed by the Lieutenant Governor and the speaker of the house to identify and eliminate waste, duplication, and inefficiency in government agencies. Every 12 years, over 150 government agencies are reviewed for potential changes and improvements in their responsibilities and operations. And since the review of Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the TCEQ, is quickly approaching, we’re getting organized!  Will you join us for a call next Thursday, June 10th at 6pm CT?

From the Alliance for Clean Texas:

The Alliance for a Clean Texas (ACT) will launch its 2010-2011 TCEQ sunset campaign with a conference call next Thursday, June 10th at 6:30 p.m. All Texans committed to protecting our state’s environment and health are invited to participate in the call.

ACT is a coalition of organizations and individuals around the state working together to make this a milestone year for environmental protection in Texas. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) is currently under review by the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission. Now is the time to turn our concerns about how TCEQ does and does not do its job of protecting our environment and our health into real, lasting reform.

In the last week, TCEQ has been at the center of two major stories about the Texas environment. The EPA has finally taken action to bring TCEQ air permitting back into compliance with the federal Clean Air Act–a move opposed by the TCEQ commissioners. And Fort Worth is reeling with the news that (more…)

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On Wednesday, April 8th, the House Committee on Environmental Regulation will hear testimony on a bill to fast-track coal and other power plants. Issues with the HB 4012 include:

  • It would eliminate the contested-case hearing process – the only significant opportunity the public has to challenge a power plant permit
  • It would fast-track the permit application review process, resulting in lower-quality permits
  • It could be deemed illegal by the EPA which mandates that the public have an opportunity to challenge a permit application
  • It would erode public trust of regulatory institutions at a time when that trust is vanishing nationwide

Come testify in Capitol Extension E1.014 on Wednesday at 10:30am. Without the contested-case process, there could have been no public victory against 8 of the 11 proposed TXU coal plants.

Even when a power plant is permitted, it is almost always a better permit for having endured the contested-case hearing process. The process brings out weaknesses in the application and often helps identify opportunities to lower dangerous emissions from these plants.

Two years ago the state showed its disregard for public interest when Governor Perry attempted to grandfather coal plants and protect them from regulation. That attempt was defeated in court, but now the legislature is resurrecting tired arguments in favor of polluting technologies that hurt our health and our economy.

If you can’t make it in person, call in to the Environmental Regulation committee and voice your opposition to HB 4012!

Rep. Byron Cook (Chair) – 512-463-0646, [email protected]
Rep. Warren Chisum (Vice-Chair) – 512-463-0736, [email protected]
Rep. Lon Burnam – 512-463-0740, [email protected]
Rep. Jim Dunnam – 512-463-0508, [email protected]
Rep. Jessica Farrar – 512-463-0620, [email protected]
Rep. Kelly Hancock – 512-463-0599, [email protected]
Rep. Ken Legler – 512-463-0460, [email protected]
Rep Marc Veasey – 512-463-0716, [email protected]
Rep. Randy Weber – 512-463-0707, [email protected]e.state.tx.us (Rep. Weber authored the bill in question)

evil-eye-babyRemoving contested case hearings, the public’s only opportunity to challenge power plants, without replacing it with some other mechanism to hear public input is completely ridiculous.  Baby does not approve.

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nrgprotest10Last Friday two administrative law judges refused to hear testimony on the impact of carbon dioxide emissions during the permitting process for the NRG Limestone coal-fired power plant. The contested case hearing for NRG’s air quality permit application will be going on all week long, but testimony on the proposed plant’s contribution to global warming will not be allowed.  The judges decided that the TCEQ has adopted clear policies that they would not consider testimony on the issue, even though the Supreme Court ruled in 2007 (EPA vs Massachusetts) that the EPA had the authority to regulate CO2 as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act. If built, the plant will emit 7.4 million tons of carbon dioxide every year.

NRG has acknowledged that climate change is a serious environmental issue, and has agreed to offset a portion of its greenhouse gas emissions from the proposed new plant. Yet, lawyers for the company maneuvered to strike all references to CO2 or climate change from the week-long hearing.

nrgprotest4In protest, local environmentalists gathered for an 8:30 a.m. protest Monday Feb 22 outside the State Office of Administrative Hearings. Groups supporting the protest included: Public Citizen, SEED Coalition, Environment Texas, Clean Water Action, Re- Energize Texas, and the Texas Climate Emergency Campaign.

Some of the protest’s participants made the following comments in a press release: (more…)

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