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EPA Claims Progress on Texas Air Permitting

Companies holding "flexible air permits" granted by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) -- all 136 of them -- have agreed to apply for permits approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the federal agency said.

EPA told the companies that their state air permits were not in compliance with the federal Clean Air Act and they needed to obtain approved air permits to be in compliance. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott filed a challenge to the EPA ruling in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans on behalf of TCEQ (see Daily GPI, July 28, 2010; July 2, 2010).

Besides the state, a number of industry groups are challenging EPA in court. Among those suing EPA is the Texas Oil and Gas Association, which believes the EPA has no legal basis for rejecting the flexible air permits.

EPA this week recognized 10 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."

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

"...[W]e 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."

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