Monday, December 2, 2013 3:16 pm by Charles Nixon, John Riley and Tim Wilkins
As we discussed in an October post, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has proposed rules to create a greenhouse gas (GHG) permitting program for the state of Texas and take over permitting authority from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Because it hopes to make the transition as quickly as possible, TCEQ is using a streamlined public participation process, which is soon coming to an end. At 2:00 pm on December 5th, TCEQ will hold its only public hearing on the proposal (see notice here). TCEQ will then continue to accept written comments on the rules through December 9th.
If your company would like to see a change to—or particularly supports—some aspect of the proposed rules, it is important to participate in the hearing or submit written comments before the deadline. It is not clear whether these proposed rules will be controversial, but it is possible, and participating during the comment period can help strengthen one’s position before the Commission or a court, should a challenge be brought. If you have any questions about attending the hearing or submitting questions or comments, please feel free to contact any of our Environmental Section members in the Austin office. We will be attending and are happy to assist any way we can.
Category: Air Quality/Climate Change, Natural Gas/LNG, Power, Regional Energy Law
Thursday, October 10, 2013 10:57 am by Charles Nixon and Tim Wilkins
On October 4th, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) released a preliminary draft of a proposal to establish greenhouse gas (GHG) permitting regulations for the state of Texas. This action kicks off what is likely to be a lively discussion between stakeholders and regulators over the design of Texas’s GHG permitting program. But it represents a first step toward an important change from the status quo.
For almost three years now, Texas companies have been subject to two different permitting authorities for air permits: the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issues GHG permits under a Federal Implementation Plan (FIP), while TCEQ issues permits for all other regulated pollutants. The dual permitting scheme has not been a model of efficiency. (more…)
Category: Air Quality/Climate Change, Environmental, Regional Energy Law
Wednesday, September 25, 2013 11:12 am by Charles.Nixon and Sandra Snyder
Yesterday, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published in the Federal Register final amendments to sections of its 2012 New Source Performance Standard OOOO (NSPS OOOO) applicable to storage vessels used in the production, processing, transmission and storage of oil and natural gas. 78 Fed. Reg. 58415. Although the amendments contain a number of helpful changes sought by industry, they also include fast-approaching deadlines for operators of Class I vessels (see below) to test their VOC emissions (October 15, 2013) and report the results to EPA (January 15, 2014). (more…)
Category: Air Quality/Climate Change, Enforcement, Environmental, National Energy Law, Natural Gas/LNG, Upstream Energy
Friday, August 16, 2013 11:09 am by Sandra Snyder
August has been a busy month for issues related to the Renewable Fuels Standard (“RFS”).
On August 6, EPA denied the petitions for reconsideration filed by the American Petroleum Institute (“API”) and the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (“AFPM”) regarding the 2013 Biomass-Based Diesel Renewable Fuel Volume. EPA sent a letter to AFPM and another to API before publishing notice of this decision in the Federal Register on August 14. As EPA’s technical response memo explains, EPA believes that there is no need to reconsider the applicable volume of biomass-based diesel for 2013 because the issues raised by API and AFPM could have been raised during the comment period and the issues raised do not provide substantial support for revising the standard. In particular, EPA explained that there is no statutory prohibition to increasing the biomass-based diesel requirement over the 1.0 billion gallon standard even that will result in higher prices. EPA disregarded two other arguments by explaining that when the Agency set the 2013 standard, it was aware of and considered both the 2012 drought and the RIN fraud issue. (more…)
Category: Air Quality/Climate Change, Courts, Environmental, National Energy Law, Renewable Energy/Cleantech
Friday, July 26, 2013 2:15 pm by Sandra Snyder
Nine companies were issued fines by the California Air Resources Board (ARB) for violating the State of California’s Mandatory Greenhouse Gas Reporting rule. The ARB adopted the reporting rule in 2007. Under the rule, sources that emit more than 10,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year must annually report their greenhouse gas emissions for the prior year to the ARB. Reporting began in 2008 with approximately 600 facilities reporting their emissions. (more…)
Category: Air Quality/Climate Change, Enforcement, Environmental, Regional Energy Law, Renewable Energy/Cleantech, Upstream Energy
Tuesday, July 16, 2013 9:10 am by Sandra Snyder
In response to a request made by Senator David Vitter, EPA has made several concessions to address concerns about agency transparency. In particular, industry has had concerns about the recent increase of so-called “sue and settle” cases. Under the sue and settle process, advocacy groups sue EPA to issue a regulation. During closed-door settlement discussions, the advocacy group and EPA agree to a timeline and the content of a new rule. After an agreement has been struck, it is difficult for the public to persuade EPA to modify the terms of the settlement agreement during the notice and comment period; therefore, the closed-door settlement discussions ultimately end up dictating the terms of the future agency action. The Ninth Circuit recently dealt a blow to this practice by overturning a consent decree that the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service entered into with various advocacy groups. Conservation Northwest v. Sherman, No. 11-35729 (Opinion dated Apr. 25, 2013) (holding “that a district court abuses its discretion when it enters into a consent decree that permanently and substantially amends an agency rule that would have otherwise been subject to statutory rulemaking procedures.”). (more…)
Category: Air Quality/Climate Change, Courts, Enforcement, Environmental, National Energy Law, Natural Gas/LNG, Nuclear, Regional Energy Law, Shale Development, Upstream Energy