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Texas Environmental Update

January 31, 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. 


DOT Issues Guidance to Speed NEPA Reviews
Bracewell Blog, January 28, 2013
Earlier this month, the Federal Highway and Transit Administrations published guidance outlining two steps it will take to accelerate the environmental review process for certain projects. The guidance was the direct result of two provisions in the 2012 Transportation bill (MAP-21) mandating streamlined action under the National Environmental Policy Act for [...]


Agendas & Work Sessions

Commissioners' February 13, 2013 Meeting Agenda
TCEQ Web Site

Commissioners' January 30, 2013 Agenda Meeting Webcast

In the News:


Benzene Levels at Fort Worth, Dish Gas Compressor Stations Questioned
Fort Worth Star-Telegram, January 24, 2013
"A private group that has been critical of natural gas operations says recent testing found 'elevated' levels of benzene at two area sites, including one in Fort Worth."

Texas Joins New National Air Quality Association
TCEQ Web Site, January 23, 2013
"Seventeen states, including Texas, have joined the newly established Association of Air Pollution Control Agencies (AAPCA), which will create a technical forum to assist states with the application of various aspects of the Clean Air Act and associated regulations."


TCEQ Approves Fines Totaling $2,067,823
TCEQ Web Site, January 30, 2013
"The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality today approved penalties totaling $1,831,176 against 47 regulated entities for violations of state environmental regulations."


Judge Reverses TCEQ Permit
Weatherford Democrat, January 29, 2013
"Saying the cities of Aledo and Willow Park were not afforded due process at a preliminary hearing, an Austin district court judge ruled Thursday that a permit issued to Republic Waste Services of Texas to build a municipal solid waste transfer station near Aledo schools be vacated and the case remanded back to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality."

Regulatory Developments

What's New in TCEQ Rules
TCEQ Web Site, January 25, 2013


LCRA Drought Plan OK'd by State Agency
Austin American-Statesman, January 29, 2013
"The Lower Colorado River Authority request for emergency drought powers won approval from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality on Tuesday."

Laws Lag Behind Aquifer Storage and Recovery Efforts
Corpus Christi Caller-Times, January 27, 2013
"CORPUS CHRISTI - Aquifer storage and recovery - the process of pulling water from one source, cleaning it and then storing it underground somewhere else - brings its own unique challenges."

Water Rights Restored on Brazos, but Farm Bureau Still Suing State Environmental Agency
Austin American-Statesman, January 25, 2013
"Resolving - for the time being - a dispute that blew up in December between farmers and the Texas environmental agency over the divvying up of water in the Brazos River, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality announced this week that is no longer suspending their water rights."


Final Rule, Nationwide Permit Program
78 Federal Register 5726, January 28, 2013

Direct Final Rule, Civil Monetary Penalty Inflation Adjustment
78 Federal Register 5722, January 28, 2013


Adjustment of Service Fees for Outer Continental Shelf Activities
78 Federal Register 5836, January 28, 2013


Final Rule; Notice of Final Action on Reconsideration; National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Major Sources: Industrial, Commercial, and Institutional Boilers and Process Heaters
78 Federal Register 7138, January 31, 2013

Final Rule, National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Reciprocating Internal Combustion Engines; New Source Performance Standards for Stationary Internal Combustion Engines
78 Federal Register 6674, January 30, 2013

Public Comment on EPA's National Enforcement Initiatives for Fiscal Years 2014-2016
78 Federal Register 5799, January 28, 2013

D.C. Circuit Declines to Rehear Decision Vacating EPA Cross-State Air Rule
Bloomberg BNA, January 25, 2013
"The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Jan. 24 declined to rehear a case in which the court vacated an Environmental Protection Agency rule that aimed to curb air pollution crossing state lines (EME Homer City Generation LP v. EPA, D.C. Cir., No. 11-1302, rehearings denied 1/24/13)."

Final Rule, Revisions to Procedural Rules to Clarify Practices and Procedures Applicable in Permit Appeals Pending Before the Environmental Appeals Board
78 Federal Register 5281, January 25, 2013


Proposed Rule, Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Endangered Status for Four Central Texas Salamanders and Designation of Critical Habitat
78 Federal Register 5385, January 25, 2013


Notice of Intent to Prepare a Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the Effects of Oil and Gas Activities in the Arctic Ocean
78 Federal Register 6303, January 30, 2013


Notice; Issuance of Advisory Bulletin; Pipeline Safety: Accident and Incident Notification Time Limit
78 Federal Register 6402, January 30, 2013

Pipeline Safety; Annual Reports and Validation
78 Federal Register 5866, January 28, 2013


Amid Opposition, South Texas Coal Mine Approved
StateImpact Texas, January 29, 2013
"Two decades ago, the debate over a South Texas coal mine began."

Texas Railroad Commission Takes Steps to Modernize
The Texas Tribune, January 25, 2013
"The Railroad Commission of Texas regulates one of the most advanced industries in the world - oil and gas drilling."

Opinion: Let's Keep State Railroad Commission and Its Expertise
Houston Chronicle, January 23, 2013
"With the uptick in oil and gas activity across the state and the accompanying increased scrutiny of the industry's environmental footprint, the Railroad Commission of Texas finds itself once again under the microscope of the Texas Legislature as part of the Sunset Review process."


Stand-Down Aims to Place Focus on Safety
MyWestTexas.com, January 30, 2013
"Oil and gas operators and service companies throughout the Permian Basin are being encouraged to pause during the month of February and focus on safety."

Landfill Will Supply Power to CPS
San Antonio Express-News, January 28, 2013
"When CPS Energy customers turn on the lights next summer, part of the power could be coming from garbage."


Pipeline Safety: Better Data and Guidance Could Improve Operators' Responses to Incidents
Government Accountability Web Site, January 28, 2013
"The best way to ensure the safety of pipelines, and their surrounding communities, is to minimize the possibility of an incident occurring."

Pipeline Safety: Better Data and Guidance Needed to Improve Pipeline Operator Incident Response
Government Accountability Office Web Site, January 2013
"The Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011 directed GAO to examine the ability of transmission pipeline operators to respond to a product release."