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Texas Environmental Update

October 2, 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.


The Functional Interrelatedness Test: Is the End in Sight?
Bracewell Blog, September 30, 2013
In March 2013, a not-for profit coalition of manufacturing companies filed a petition for review in the D.C. Circuit challenging whether the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can use different air permitting criteria in different parts of the country. Nat'l Envtl. Dev. Assoc.'s Clean Air Project (NEDA) v. U.S. EPA, No. 13-1035 (D.C. Cir. filed Mar. 25, 2013). This challenge arises from a memorandum issued by EPA [...]

EPA Releases Testing, Reporting and Compliance Deadlines for Oil and Gas Storage Tanks
Energy Legal Blog, September 25, 2013
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 [...]

Administration to Propose Water Jurisdiction Rule That May Affect Energy and Infrastructure Developers
Bracewell Blog, September 18, 2013
On Tuesday, the Obama Administration gave in to pressure from Congress, environmental NGOs and industry, announcing that it has drafted a proposed rule intended to clarify the waters over which the federal government has jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. This is an important and contentious question which has been at issue for the past 15 years largely because of two Supreme Court decisions on the topic, most notably the Court's splintered 2006 plurality decision in Rapanos v. United States. The rulemaking has the potential [...]

Coast Guard Looks to Expand Safety and Environmental Management Systems to Vessels on the OCS
Energy Legal Blog, September 18, 2013
On September 10, 2013, the U.S. Coast Guard published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (APNRM) in the Federal Register stating its intent to propose regulations that will require vessels engaged in exploration, development or production activities on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) to develop, implement, and maintain a vessel-specific Safety and Environmental Management System [...]


Agendas & Work Sessions

Commissioners' October 9, 2013 Meeting Agenda
TCEQ Web Site

Commissioners' September 24, 2013 Agenda Meeting Webcast

In the News:


Study of Air Quality in Barnett Shale Finds Few Health Effects
Fort Worth Star-Telegram, September 28, 2013
"A review of air quality in the Barnett Shale using data from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality finds that emissions related to natural gas production are below levels that would pose health concerns."

Why Are Texas Children Suing Environmental Regulators?
KUT News, September 26, 2013
"Texas children are suing the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, claiming the TCEQ should have to protect the quality of the air the same way it's required to protect the quality of water."

Saharan Dust, Mexico Fires in Sooty Houston Air
The Brownsville Herald, September 22, 2013
"State environmental regulators are blaming excessive soot in the Houston-area air last month on dust that blew in from the Sahara desert and smoke from crop-clearing burns in Mexico."


TCEQ Approves Fines Totaling $850,541 and Water-Right Permit for New Reservoir
TCEQ Web Site, September 24, 2013
"The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality today approved a water-right permit to construct and maintain a dam and reservoir to be known as Lake Ralph Hall."

Regulatory Developments

What's New in TCEQ Rules
TCEQ Web Site, September 27, 2013


49% of Texans Want State to Pour $2 Billion Into Water Projects
Dallas Morning News, October 1, 2013
"AUSTIN - A favorable ballot, high-level support and dry weather are boosting the campaign to put $2 billion toward building water projects, experts say."

TCEQ Approves Lake Ralph Hall Permit
Denton Record-Chronicle, September 25, 2013
"The Texas Commission for Environmental Quality on Tuesday approved construction of the first major water supply reservoir authorized in Texas in almost 30 years."

LCRA Agrees to Cut Off Water Inflows Into Matagorda Bay
Community Impact Newspapers, September 18, 2013
"The Lower Colorado River Authority board voted Sept. 18 to suspend sending water to Matagorda Bay until drought conditions improve."


Final Rule, Oil and Gas and Sulphur Operations in the Outer Continental Shelf - Adjustment of Service Fees
78 Federal Register 60208, October 1, 2013

Extension of Comment Period for a Proposed Rule, Oil and Gas and Sulphur Operations on the Outer Continental Shelf-Oil and Gas Production Safety Systems
78 Federal Register 59632, September 27, 2013


Notice; Request for Public Comments; Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental Scientific Affairs; Climate Action Report
78 Federal Register 59412, September 26, 2013


Notice, Draft National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) General Permit for Stormwater Discharges From Industrial Activities
78 Federal Register 59672, September 27, 2013

Final Rule, Approval and Promulgation of Implementation Plans; Texas; Revisions to New Source Review (NSR) State Implementation Plan (SIP); Emergency Orders
78 Federal Register 59250, September 26, 2013

Water Quality Standards Regulatory Clarifications Proposed Rule; Public Meeting and Public Webinars
78 Federal Register 58500, September 24, 2013

Notification of a Public Meeting of the Science Advisory Board Panel for the Review of the EPA Water Body Connectivity Report
78 Federal Register 58536, September 24, 2013

Final Amendments, Oil and Natural Gas Sector: Reconsideration of Certain Provisions of New Source Performance Standards
78 Federal Register 58416, September 23, 2013

EPA Proposes Strict Emission Limits on New Power Plants
USA Today, September 20, 2013
"Lawsuits are expected to challenge the Environmental Protection Agency's proposal Friday to limit emissions from new power plants, and the main reason is cutting-edge, anti-pollution technology."


Final Rule; Revised Statement of Policy; Hazardous Materials Regulations: Penalty Guidelines
78 Federal Register 60726, October 2, 2013

Final Rule, Hazardous Materials: Minor Editorial Corrections and Clarifications (RRR)
78 Federal Register 60745, October 2, 2013

Notice of Inquiry, Extension of Comment Period; Pipeline Safety: Class Location Requirements
78 Federal Register 59906, September 30, 2013


Crowded GOP Field Battles for Place on Railroad Commission
San Antonio Express-News, September 28, 2013
"AUSTIN - Seven Republicans are battling for a share of a dim spotlight in the statewide race with the most hopefuls and possibly the least public attention."

Final Rule, Pipeline Safety: Administrative Procedures; Updates and Technical Corrections
78 Federal Register 58897, September 25, 2013


TexCom Files Lawsuit in Federal Court Against Montgomery County
The Spring Observer, September 28, 2013
"TexCom Disposal LLC filed suit in federal court, claiming Montgomery County deprives the company of its civil rights."

Replanting Native Grasses in Pipeline Routes
San Antonio Express-News, September 27, 2013
"LIVE OAK COUNTY - At Dobie Ranch, brushy plants common across South Texas blanket rolling hills: granjeno, tasajillo, hog-plum, mesquite, prickly pear."


Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Web Site, September 2013
"This comprehensive assessment of the physical aspects of climate change puts a focus on those elements that are relevant to understand past, document current, and project future climate change."

Compendium of State Pipeline Safety Requirements & Initiatives Providing Increased Public Safety Levels Compared to Code of Federal Regulations, 2nd ed.
National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners Web Site, September 2013
"The purpose of this report is to highlight the hundreds of areas where actions have been taken to improve pipeline safety improvements throughout the country and to showcase the many different areas of focus."

Evaluation of Impact of Shale Gas Operations in the Barnett Shale Region on Volatile Organic Compounds in Air and Potential Human Health Risks
Science of the Total Environment, August 2013
"The analyses demonstrate that, for the extensive number of VOCs measured, shale gas production activities have not resulted in community-wide exposures to those VOCs at levels that would pose a health concern."

BLM Needs Better Data to Track Permit Processing Times and Prioritize Inspections
Government Accountability Office Web Site, August 2013
"This report examines, from fiscal years 2007 to 2012, (1) changes in BLM's permitting workload; (2) actions BLM has taken to manage its oil and gas permitting workload and challenges, if any, that remain; and (3) actions BLM has taken to mitigate the environmental impact of developing federal oil and gas resources, and challenges, if any, that remain."