- WEB EXCLUSIVE
- PE COFFEEHAUS
Final decisions about changing the program will be made under an expedited schedule agreed to under a recent settlement with Texas businesses, according to an agency release.
"Plans are already underway to bring together state regulatory officials, industry representatives and community leaders to find ways to address concerns with the air permitting program," said Acting Regional Administrator Lawrence Starfield. "Texas' air permitting program should be transparent and understandable to the communities we serve, protective of air quality, and establish clear and consistent requirements."
Under the Clean Air Act, all states must develop plans approved by the EPA for meeting federal requirements to protect pubic health. Since the federal agency approved Texas' major clean-air permitting plan in 1992, the state has submitted over 30 regulatory changes. The proposals being made by the EPA represent some of the agency's main concerns with the state's air-permitting program and the need to more effectively work toward improved air quality as required by law, according to the release.
In November 2008, the EPA issued a Federal Register notice proposing to disapprove some of the state's public participation program. The state's proposed program provided inadequate opportunities for the public to review permit decisions in Texas, as compared with public participation opportunities provided by other states, the notice stated.
The EPA will issue its final decision on this proposal by Nov. 30, 2009.
EPA has less than one year to issue its final decisions on three remaining proposals: finalizing the Qualified Facilities revision, Flexible Permit revision, and New Source Reform revision no later than March 2010, June 2010, and August 2010 respectively. The EPA is required to complete action on all 30 of the state's proposed regulatory changes by Dec. 31, 2013.
The public will have 60 days to submit comments on the proposals after they appear in the Federal Register.