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Texas Environmental Update

May 1, 2014

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.


Texas Greenhouse Gas Regulations Go Into Effect
Energy Legal Blog, April 22, 2014
On April 17, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality's new greenhouse gas (GHG) regulations became effective, establishing the framework for a new GHG permitting program at TCEQ, which the agency hopes to begin implementing in the summer of 2014.  Before this can happen, EPA must officially approve the rules and also rescind the Federal Implementation [...]

EPA Requests Feedback on Methane Emissions
Energy Legal Blog, April 16, 2014
By way of update to last month's client alert, on April 15, 2014, EPA released five white papers that discuss methane and volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from the oil and gas sector. The release of the white papers is part of the White House's Climate Action Plan Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions.  The white [...]


Agendas & Work Sessions

Commissioners' May 14, 2014 Meeting Agenda
TCEQ Web Site

Commissioners' April 30, 2014 Agenda Meeting Webcast



Mistake Costs Coalition State Pollution Funds
San Angelo Standard-times, April 27, 2014
"A few casual words and the early release of some scientific data have cost the San Antonio region much-needed state funds to battle its growing air pollution problem."

TCEQ Finds Air Emissions From Oil, Gas
Odessa American, April 22, 2014
"State environmental regulators found that roughly one in 20 tanks used in the oil and gas industry in and around Ector County emitted volatile organic compounds, according to recent data released by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality."

Natural Gas Production Contributing to Higher Ozone Levels, UNT Study Finds
Fort Worth Star-Telegram, April 18, 2014
"Natural gas production in the Barnett Shale is contributing to higher ozone levels in the western Metroplex, according to a new study by the University of North Texas."

Officials: No New Plans to Clean Up Air
Denton Record-Chronicle, April 17, 2014
"ARLINGTON - State environmental officials reaffirmed Thursday that they have no plans to add new control measures to clean up North Texas air, insisting that air quality will meet federal standards by 2018."


TCEQ Approves Fines Totaling $647,603
TCEQ Web Site, April 30, 2014
"The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality today approved penalties totaling $413,304 against 24 regulated entities for violations of state environmental regulations."

Investigators Crack Down on Environmental Fraud
NewsOK.com, April 21, 2014
"On a sweltering late August day in 2011, Julius Mosonyi was a no-show at the Travis County courthouse for a felony hearing in his environmental fraud case."

Regulatory Developments

What's New in TCEQ Rules
TCEQ Web Site, April 25, 2014


Radioactive Waste Opponents Say Lege Should Consider Storage Risks
Odessa American, April 30, 2014
"Opponents to storage of high-level radioactive waste in West Texas framed their arguments on Wednesday in the run-up to a legislative committee meeting this summer that will explore bringing such a disposal site to the state."


Editorial: Wichita Falls Project to Reuse Waste Water Should Proceed Quickly
Fort Worth Star-Telegram, April 21, 2014
"A two-year drought that has reduced lake levels to 26 percent of capacity has forced Wichita Falls to seek drastic measures to provide its 104,000 residents with water."

Senator Wants LCRA's Permit Revoked
KHOU.com, April 16, 2014
"AUSTIN -- Inside the Texas Capitol, State Sen. Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay) is calling for action against the corporation that controls Central Texas water."


Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Waste Mine Methane Capture, Use, Sale, or Destruction
79 Federal Register 23923, April 29, 2014


Final Rule, MMAA104000; Timing Requirements for the Submission of a Site Assessment Plan (SAP) or General Activities Plan (GAP) for a Renewable Energy Project on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS)
79 Federal Register 21617, April 17, 2014


Court Orders EPA to Adopt New Air Pollution Rule
Fort Worth Star-Telegram, April 30, 2014
"SAN FRANCISCO - A federal court has given the Obama administration a deadline for updating federal standards for smog that are more than a year overdue."

EPA Wins Big as Supreme Court Upholds Cross-State Rule
Midwest Energy News, April 30, 2014
"In a landmark win for the Obama administration and public health advocates, the Supreme Court on Tuesday resurrected U.S. EPA's program for air pollution that drifts across state lines after a lower court had thrown it out."

EPA Solicits Public Comments on Action Plan for RE-Powering America's Land
EPA Web Site, April 30, 2014
"WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking public comments on the draft action plan for its RE-Powering America's Land Initiative."

Proposed Rule, Definition of "Waters of the United States" Under the Clean Water Act
79 Federal Register 22188, April 21, 2014

Proposed Rule, Ocean Dumping: Proposed Cancellation and Modification of Final Site Designations
79 Federal Register 22073, April 21, 2014


EPA Issues Greenhouse Gas Permit to Texas Clean-Energy Electricity Plant
Region 6 Web Site, April 29, 2014
"DALLAS - This week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final greenhouse gas (GHG) Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) construction permit to FGE Power for the FGE Texas project near Westbrook, Texas."

EPA Issues Greenhouse Gas Permit to Houston-Area Facility
Region 6 Web Site, April 18, 2014
"DALLAS - This week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final greenhouse gas (GHG) Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) construction permit for the Lone Star NGL facility in Mont Belvieu, Texas, just west of Houston."


Is the Increasingly Rare Alligator Snapping Turtle Next on Endangered List?
StateImpact Texas, April 29, 2014
"A new study places one of Texas' strangest-and most imposing-reptiles in a very precarious position."

Notice of Availability: Draft Environmental Assessment and Draft Oil and Gas Industry Conservation Plan for the American Burying Beetle in Oklahoma
79 Federal Register 21480, April 16, 2014


Notice and Request for Comments, Pipeline Safety: Information Collection Activities, Revision to Gas Distribution Annual Report
79 Federal Register 23403, April 28, 2014


$3 Million Award in Drilling Suit Sparks Legal Worries
The Texas Tribune, April 30, 2014
"Three years after a North Texas family alleged that a drilling company's activities near their home were responsible for chronic headaches, nose-bleeding, wheezing and other ailments, a jury last week awarded them $3 million in damages."

Victoria Commissioners Hesitate to Support Proposed Increased Transparency on Injection Wells
Victoria Advocate, April 21, 2014
"The process for applying for, protesting and approving injection well permits could see changes at the hands of concerned Victoria County residents."


Chemical Import Data May Help EPA Identify Facilities That Need to File or Update Risk Management Plans
Government Accountability Office, April 28, 2014
"While conducting work as part of an Office of Inspector General evaluation of a U.S. territory's implementation of its delegated Clean Air Act programs, we obtained and analyzed data on imports of hazardous substances to the United States."

Draft (4-23-14) SAB Review of the Draft EPA Report Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters
EPA Science Advisory Board Web Page, April 23, 2014
"The EPA's Office of Research and Development (ORD) requested that the Science Advisory Board (SAB) review the draft report titled Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters: A Review and Synthesis of the Scientific Evidence (September 2013 External Review Draft) ('Report')."

Gaining Ground: Corporate Progress on the Ceres Roadmap for Sustainability
Ceres, 2014
"This report, Gaining Ground: Corporate Progress on the Ceres Roadmap for Sustainability, evaluates how well 613 of the largest, publicly traded U.S. companies are integrating sustainability into their business systems and decision-making."

Responding to Oil Spills in the U.S. Arctic Marine Environment
National Academy of Sciences, 2014
"The committee was tasked to review research activities and recommend strategies to advance research and address information gaps, to identify opportunities and constraints for advancing oil spill research, to describe promising new concepts and technologies, and to assess the types of baseline information needed to monitor the impacts of an oil spill and to develop plans for recovery and restoration."