EPA Proposes Approval of Texas Clean Air Act Plan

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said it will approve revisions submitted by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to the state’s permitting program for major air pollution sources under the Clean Air Act’s New Source Review (NSR) program. These changes to the State’s clean air plan meet federal clean air goals by establishing state rules for existing major facilities that are consistent with federal permitting requirements.

The revised plan provides operating flexibility by establishing site-wide emission caps known as “Plant-wide Applicability Limits,” or PALS, for existing sources. These PALS require continuous monitoring for each of the units included in the cap. PALS are a useful and much sought-after tool for industry because they provide flexibility in the daily operations at a facility. Today’s proposal is the result of many months of work by Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and EPA to develop a PALS program for the state.

The proposed approval of the state’s revised plan not only enhances the clarity and enforceability of state issued permits but also provides industry with flexibility to meet Clean Air Act requirements.

After publication in the Federal Register, the EPA will seek public comment on this proposed approval of the state’s revised plan for 30 days. Comments will be considered as the agency completes the final decision process.

Congress established the New Source Review (NSR) permitting program as part of the 1977 Clean Air Act Amendments. NSR is a preconstruction permitting program that protects air quality while allowing for industrial growth. In Texas, NSR permits are legal documents issued by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality that facility owners/operators must abide by. The permit specifies what construction is allowed, what emission limits must be met, and often how the emissions source must be operated.