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Texas Environmental Update

January 16, 2013

The environmental practice of Bracewell & Giuliani LLP offers seamless, front-rank representation in local, state, national, and cross-border regulatory, enforcement, and litigation matters, as well as experienced counsel on the environmental aspects of transactions and operations across the country and around the world. We are dedicated to helping clients successfully navigate complex and costly environmental issues and to building longstanding client relationships founded on superior advice, integrity, and value. We are pleased to provide you with this issue of Bracewell's Texas Environmental Update, offering the latest news about permitting, enforcement, regulatory developments, and other matters of interest to the regulated community in Texas. 


Court Rejects EPA Attempt to Regulate Stormwater Itself
Bracewell Blog, January 14, 2013
EPA's innovative attempt to regulate the amount of stormwater flowing into an impaired creek was recently struck down by a federal court in Virginia. Faced with a creek with benthic impairment (i.e., there weren't a sufficient number of healthy organisms living near the bottom of the creek), EPA looked to reduce the amount of sediment flowing into the creek. Since almost all of the sediment flowing into the creek was carried by stormwater, EPA decided that, rather than regulate the amount of sediment flowing into the creek, it would just regulate the amount [...]


Agendas & Work Sessions

Commissioners' January 30, 2013 Meeting Agenda
TCEQ Web Site

In the News:


Comment Sought on Plan to Spare Smog Fines
Houston Chronicle, January 9, 2013
"The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality will accept public input until Monday on a plan in which Houston's biggest sources of smog-forming pollution may avoid tens of millions of dollars in penalties for the region's failure to achieve federal clean-air goals."

Regulatory Developments

What's New in TCEQ Rules
TCEQ Web Site, January 11, 2013


SAWS Wants Easier Access to Groundwater
San Antonio Express-News, January 9, 2012
"The largest water source left to be tapped in Texas is underground and slightly salty, according to the San Antonio Water System and a local legislator. "

Texas-New Mexico Water Feud Goes to Supreme Court
Houston Chronicle, January 8, 2012
"EL PASO, Texas (AP) - Texas officials asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday to force New Mexico to abide by an agreement about sharing water from the Rio Grande."

Texas Files Complaint Against New Mexico With U.S. Supreme Court
TCEQ Web Site, January 8, 2013
"The State of Texas today filed a complaint with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking the court to command New Mexico to deliver water apportioned to Texas under the 1938 Rio Grande Compact between the states of Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado to divide the waters of the Rio Grande."


AP Sources: Interior Secretary Ken Salazar Leaving
Fort Worth Star-Telegram, January 16, 2013
"WASHINGTON - Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who oversaw a moratorium on offshore drilling after the BP oil spill, will step down in March, Obama administration officials said Wednesday."


EPA's 2011 Toxics Release Inventory Shows Air Pollutants Continue to Decline
EPA Web Site, January 16, 2013
"WASHINGTON - Total toxic air releases in 2011 declined 8 percent from 2010, mostly because of decreases in hazardous air pollutant (HAP) emissions, even while total releases of toxic chemicals increased for the second year in a row, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) annual Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) report published today."

EPA Finalizes Revisions to Clean Air Standards for Stationary Engines
EPA Web Site, January 15, 2013
"WASHINGTON - Today, in compliance with settlement agreements, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized revisions to standards to reduce air pollution from stationary engines that generate electricity and power equipment at industrial, agricultural, oil and gas production, power generation and other facilities."

Final Rule, National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Particulate Matter
78 Federal Register 3086, January 15, 2013

Final Rule, Findings of Failure to Submit a Complete State Implementation Plan for Section 110(a) Pertaining to the 2008 Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard
78 Federal Register 2882, January 15, 2013

Notice of Extension of Public Comment Period, Draft Research Report: Investigation of Ground Water Contamination Near Pavillion, WY
78 Federal Register 2396, January 11, 2013

Availability of Draft Documents for Public Comment, Release of Draft Document Related to the Review of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Lead
78 Federal Register 2394, January 11, 2013

Review of New Sources and Modifications in Indian Country: Notice of Action Partially Granting Petition for Reconsideration and Denying Request for Administrative Stay
78 Federal Register 2210, January 10, 2013

Air Quality Designations for the 2008 Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards: Notice of Actions Denying Petitions for Reconsideration and Stay Requests
78 Federal Register 925, January 7, 2013


TEXAS LEGISLATURE: Railroad Commission Faces Name Change
San Angelo Standard-Times, January 11, 2013
"AUSTIN - Names can be deceiving, as anyone who has examined the Texas Railroad Commission knows."

Texas' Smitherman Tapped as Chair of National Association's (NARUC) Natural Gas Committee
Railroad Commission Web Site, January 11, 2013
"WASHINGTON, D.C. - National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) President Philip B. Jones of Washington, D.C. appointed Railroad Commission of Texas Chairman Barry Smitherman as Chair of the Association's Committee on Gas."


Texas Study Finds Increase in Water Used for Fracking
The Texas Tribune, January 15, 2013
"A new University of Texas at Austin study has found that the amount of water used in the drilling practice known as hydraulic fracturing has risen sharply in recent years as oil and natural gas production has surged."

South Texas Project Looks to Extend Nuke License
San Antonio Express-News, January 15, 2013
"BAY CITY - The federal agency that regulates the nation's nuclear power plants held a key set of public hearings Tuesday to gather input for an environmental report - an important part of its examination of the South Texas Project's bid to extend its licenses. "

Most of the South Texas Whooping Crane Flock Has Arrived
Corpus Christi Caller-Times, January 14, 2013
"CORPUS CHRISTI - Most of the whooping cranes expected to spend winter near Rockport have arrived, but it's too early to say how many survived the summer and migration from Canada."

Major Water Infrastructure Financing Proposal Made in House
Austin American-Statesman, January 10, 2013
"Texas would pull $2 billion from its rainy day fund to finance water infrastructure projects, under legislation proposed by the chairman of the House Natural Resources committee on Thursday."


Bounding the Role of Black Carbon in the Climate System: A Scientific Assessment
Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 2013
"Black carbon is emitted in a variety of combustion processes and is found throughout the Earth system."

Draft Climate Assessment Report
National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee Web Site, January 2013
"This report of the National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee concludes that the evidence for a changing climate has strengthened considerably since the last National Climate Assessment report, written in 2009."