EPA Clean Air Milestones in Texas

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced that all ‘flexible permit’ companies in Texas have agreed to apply for approved air permits, helping to achieve clean air in the state and providing for regulatory certainty. 

In September 2010, EPA notified all of the 136 ‘flexible permit’ companies that they needed to seek Clean Air Act compliant permits from the state. 

“I appreciate the on-going work by Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in processing new permits for these Texas businesses,” said Regional Administrator Al Armendariz.  

EPA recognized several companies for being far ahead of schedule or reaching an important milestone toward obtaining new permits that satisfies conditions set forth by the agency in 2010. Working closely with EPA, each has chosen an appropriate transition process and established an enforceable commitment and schedule to obtain an approvable permit.

They are: 
·         Alon USA, Big Spring;
·         BP Product North America, Texas City
·         Conoco Phillips Company, Borger;
·         Exxon Mobil Corporation, Baytown;
·         Flint Hills Resources, Corpus Christi;
·         INEOS  Americas LLC, Port Arthur;
·         INEOS  Polyethylene North America, La Porte;
·         INEOS Polymers, La Porte;
·         INEOS USA, Chocolate Bayou; and
·         Marathon Petroleum Company LP, Texas City.

“From the beginning we knew this was going to take hard work and time,” said Regional Administrator Al Armendariz.  “We asked companies to do the right thing and if they did so we would assist them complete the process.”

“Our goal was to provide the citizens of Texas with the same healthy-air protections that are provided for citizens in all other states under the Clean Air Act,” added Armendariz. 

Forgoing a one-size fits all approach, EPA welcomed input from state regulators, environmental organizations, community and business leaders in developing a variety of pathways to transition their air permits and eliminate regulatory uncertainty. A primary goal has been to identify clear emission limits, operating requirements, and monitoring, reporting and recordkeeping requirements in air permits.  

“It’s great that Texas businesses would meet the challenge so quickly,” said Armendariz.  “Here we are – one year from beginning to work with the largest 40 permit holders – and we have significant progress with no disruptions, no job losses, and numerous commitments from companies to obtain Clean Air Act compliant permits through a transparent process. Several companies have reached the first milestones ahead of schedule. People living in cities and towns across Texas will benefit from the hard work of EPA staff and these companies.”

By following a transparent transition process, these companies will achieve our shared goal of regulatory certainty.

The Clean Air Act ensures that businesses across the country operate efficiently and cleanly to safeguard public health from harmful levels of air pollution. Under the Act, all states must develop State Implementation Plans for meeting federal requirements to protect public health. EPA approved Texas’ State Implementation Plan in 1992 and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has been implementing that plan to the over 1500 major air permitted facilities in the state of Texas.

The TCEQ is the authorized Clean Air Act permitting authority in Texas. Since 1992, TCEQ continues to operate the largest air permitting program for major and minor sources in the U.S. Of the over 1500 major air permit holders in Texas, less than 150 companies applied for and received non-approved flexible permits creating uncertainty about their compliance status with the Clean Air Act. In 2007, EPA wrote to all flexible permit holders telling them of their need to ensure compliance with federal requirements.