31 March 2010 17:58 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS news)--The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Wednesday officially rejected a Texas state rule that allowed producers to make minor changes to facilities without having to submit them for public review.
“Today’s action improves transparency by requiring companies that modify their operations to notify the public and will assure that all air emitting sources are properly permitted under the Clean Air Act,” said EPA regional administrator Al Armendariz. “Improved public review will better inform our communities about the environmental conditions where they live.”
In September, the EPA said it would reject several aspects of the ?xml:namespace>
Such permits from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) allowed companies to exceed emissions limits in particular units, as long as they were under an overall emissions average.
According to the US environmental group Sierra Club, most chemical plants and power plants in the
In addition, under TCEQ rules, companies were allowed to make minor modifications to plants or refineries under those flexible permits without being required to report them to the state or file for public review, the group said.
However, on Wednesday, the EPA rejected the TCEQ’s “qualified facilities exemption rule” that it submitted for inclusion in its federally-approved state implementation plan, on grounds that it did not meet US Clean Air Act requirements. The rule was enacted in 1995, according to the TCEQ.
The EPA said it met with the TCEQ, industry representatives and environmental groups to discuss deficiencies with air emissions permits issued by the TCEQ, and that those discussions led to the state proposing new rules used to issue permits.
"The TCEQ has done everything possible and continues to do everything possible to work with the EPA on this programme," said TCEQ chairman Bryan Shaw. "It should be noted that this existing programme, which is an actual law passed by the Texas Legislature, has been in place while the TCEQ has made tremendous progress in improving Texas air quality.”
A final decision on the flexible permits issue, which the EPA has already said it intended to reject, is expected later in 2010, the EPA said.
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