Texas Environmental Update

by Bracewell LLP

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.


Gunnison Sage Grouse Continues Its Wobbly Path Toward Listing
Energy Legal Blog, May 14, 2014
Last week, the Gunnison Sage Grouse took another detour on its road to being listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), as a federal court agreed to the US Fish and Wildlife Service's (FWS) request to postpone a listing decision by six months. A listing - and the concurrent protection of over 1.7 million acres [...]

Administration Proposes Significant Expansion of Endangered Species Act
Energy Legal Blog, May 12, 2014
Earlier this morning, the Obama Administration proposed two new rules which would significantly expand the scope of the Endangered Species Act and, therefore, limit development in areas where endangered and threatened species are - or might eventually be - found.  The new rules relate to one of the two main restrictions found in the ESA [...]


Agendas & Work Sessions

Commissioners' May 14, 2014 Agenda Meeting Webcast 

In the News:


TCEQ Approves Fines Totaling $566,484
TCEQ Web Site, May 14, 2014
"The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality today approved penalties totaling $540,711 against 42 regulated entities for violations of state environmental regulations."


Lawmakers Again Consider Overhauling How Pollution Permits Are Fought
StateImpact Texas, May 12, 2014
"It's a familiar story."

Regulatory Developments

What's New in TCEQ Rules
TCEQ Web Site, May 7, 2014


Editorial: Not Reusing Water a Waste
Dallas Morning News, May 14, 2014
"OK, it can be yucky to imagine that that which you flushed away yesterday could return to your home tomorrow."

Cities Try to Restore Wildness to Urban Rivers
Fort Worth Star-Telegram, May 14, 2014
"HOUSTON - The Buffalo Bayou is everything Houston city planners once despised: The small river that winds through glassy downtown hi-rises has gentle curves, a slow, meandering current and native grasses teeming with birds and insects."

No Joke: Most Drinking Supplies Flush With "Potty Water"
The Texas Tribune, May 14, 2014
"Poor old Wichita Falls." 


Fed Govt Acknowledges Gaps in Oil Well Inspections
Fort Worth Star-Telegram, May 14, 2014
"WASHINGTON - The federal agency tasked with managing oil and gas development on Wednesday acknowledged it needed to do more to improve oversight of drilling, pointing to a lack of funding as reasons it failed to inspect oil and gas wells it considers potentially high risks for water contamination."


EPA Proposes Updates to Emissions Standards for Refineries to Protect Nearby Neighborhoods
EPA Web Site, May 15, 2014
"WASHINGTON - After receiving input from stakeholders including community groups, industry and the states, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to update the toxic air pollution standards for petroleum refineries to protect neighborhoods located near refineries."

Proposed Rule, Data Requirements Rule for the 1-Hour Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) Primary National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS)
79 Federal Register 27446, May 13, 2014

Proposed Rule, Approval and Promulgation of Air Quality Implementation Plans; Texas; Reasonable Further Progress Plan and Motor Vehicle Emissions  Budgets for the Dallas/Fort Worth 1997 8-Hour Ozone Nonattainment Area; Enhanced Monitoring; Clean Fuel Fleets and Transportation Conformity
79 Federal Register 27257, May 13, 2014

Notice of Availability, Updated National Recommended Water Quality Criteria for the Protection of Human Health
79 Federal Register 27303, May 13, 2014

U.S. Takes First Step Toward Fracking Disclosure Rules
Chicago Tribune, May 9, 2014
"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration announced its first steps on Friday toward possibly tighter regulation of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, seeking public input on whether companies should be required to disclose the contents of fluids used in the oil and natural gas drilling technique."

EPA Seeking Public Comment on Enhancing Transparency for Chemicals and Mixtures Used in Hydraulic Fracturing
EPA Web Site, May 9, 2014
"WASHINGTON -- EPA announced today that it will seek public comment on what information could be reported and disclosed for hydraulic fracturing chemicals and mixtures and the approaches for obtaining this information, including non-regulatory approaches."

Notice of Availability, Release of Final Policy Assessment Document Related to the Review of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Lead
79 Federal Register 26751, May 9, 2014


EPA Finalizes Greenhouse Gas Permit for Indeck Wharton Energy
Region 6 Web Site, May 14, 2014

"DALLAS - Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final greenhouse gas (GHG) Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) construction permit for the Indeck Wharton Energy Center in Danevang, Texas, southwest of Houston."


Proposed Rule, Listing Endangered and Threatened Species and Designating Critical Habitat; Implementing Changes to the Regulations for Designating Critical Habitat
79 Federal Register 27066, May 12, 2014

Proposed Rule, Interagency Cooperation - Endangered Species Act of 1973, as Amended; Definition of Destruction or Adverse Modification of Critical Habitat
79 Federal Register 27060, May 12, 2014

Announcement of Draft Policy and Solicitation of Public Comment; Policy Regarding Implementation of Section 4(b)(2) of the Endangered Species Act
79 Federal Register 27052, May 12, 2014


Notice of Safety Advisory; Recommendations for Tank Cars Used for the Transportation of Petroleum Crude Oil by Rail 79
Federal Register 27370, May 13, 2014

Notice; Issuance of Advisory Bulletin; Pipeline Safety: Lessons Learned From the Release at Marshall, Michigan
79 Federal Register 25990, May 6, 2014


After Quakes, Texas Railroad Commission Considers Stricter Rules on Drilling
Dallas Morning News, May 12, 2014

"State oil and gas regulators are considering stricter rules for drillers after a series of earthquakes in North Texas less than six months ago."

Editorial: For Railroad Commission: Ryan Sitton
Houston Chronicle, May 12, 2014

"It is practically mandatory in Texas journalism that any mention of the Railroad Commission begin with the reminder that it has little to do with railroads - rather, the three-person commission regulates our state's oil, gas, mining and pipelines."


Here's Hoping Galveston Lasts
Beaumont Enterprise, May 15, 2014

"The melting of the Antarctic is now unstoppable, according to NASA scientists, which means rising sea levels and the loss of coastal communities is inevitable."

Here Are 9 Studies Linking Quakes and Drilling Activity in Texas
StateImpact Texas, May 12, 2014

"These can be shaky times for Texas."


PHMSA's State Pipeline Safety Program Lacks Effective Management and Oversight
Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General Page, May 7, 2014

"Accordingly, we assessed PHMSA’s (1) policies and procedures for managing its State Pipeline Safety Program, including guidelines to participating States, and (2) oversight of State pipeline safety programs."

Updated Guidance, Increased Coordination, and Comprehensive Data Could Improve BLM's Management and Oversight
Government Accountability Office, May 2014

"GAO was asked to review oversight of federal and Indian oil and gas resources."

Greenhouse Gas Emission Reductions From Existing Power Plants: Options to Ensure Electric System Reliability
The Analysis Group, May 2014

"This paper addresses whether EPA’s actions to regulate GHG emissions from existing power plants will give rise to electric system reliability problems, and explains why it will not."

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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