Texas files legal challenge to EPA rejection of emissions permits

26 July 2010 20:01  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--The state of Texas filed a legal challenge to the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) rejection of its amended emissions permitting scheme, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said on Monday.

At the heart of the case was the flexible permit programme from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), under which companies could provide a general overview of emissions leaving a refinery or a chemical plant.

With a permit, companies could exceed emission limits in particular units as long as they were under an overall emissions average.

The TCEQ began its flexible permit programme in 1994, and said that under the US Clean Air Act, the EPA was required to act on the rules within one year.

“Yet the federal government waited more than a decade - three presidential administrations - to take action on and ultimately reject the TCEQ’s flexible permits programme rules,” Abbott said.

The EPA had claimed since September 2009 that such flexible permits were illegal under the Clean Air Act.

The TCEQ proposed an amended flexible permitting programme in June, but the EPA finalised its disapproval of that plan on 15 July, according to the attorney general’s office.

The state noted that the flexible permits programme had successfully reduced Texas’ emissions by yearly marks greater than national averages.

The lawsuit was filed with the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans.

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By: Ben DuBose
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