Texas Environmental Update - October 2013

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.


Fracking in Europe - EU Parliament Has Voted to Require Environmental Impact Assessments for Shale Gas Developments
Energy Legal Blog, October 22, 2013
On 9 October 2013, the European Parliament narrowly voted in favour of an amendment to the EU's Environmental Impact Assessment Directive (EIA Directive) which would require environmental impact assessments (EIAs) to be performed for hydraulic fracturing for coal bed methane, and in shale and formations with shale-like permeability and porosity. If the amendment becomes law, [...]

Texas Regulators Take First Steps to Acquire Greenhouse Gas Permitting Authority
Energy Legal Blog, October 10, 2013
On October 4th, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) released a preliminary draft of a proposal to establish greenhouse gas (GHG) permitting regulations for the state of Texas. This action kicks off what is likely to be a lively discussion between stakeholders and regulators over the design of Texas's GHG permitting program. But it [...]


Agendas & Work Sessions

Commissioners' November 6, 2013 Meeting Agenda
TCEQ Web Site

Commissioners' October 23, 2013 Agenda Meeting Webcast

Commissioners' October 9, 2013 Agenda Meeting Webcast

In the News:


TCEQ Approves Fines Totaling $582,049
TCEQ Web Site, October 23, 2013
"The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality today approved penalties totaling $459,035 against 30 regulated entities for violations of state environmental regulations."

State: Exide Mishandled Hazardous Waste in Frisco
Dallas Morning News, October 11, 2013
"State regulators allege Exide Technologies mishandled and improperly treated hazardous waste for years at its now-shuttered Frisco plant."

TCEQ Approves Fines Totaling $678,041
TCEQ Web Site, October 9, 2013
"The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality today approved penalties totaling $566,789 against 33 regulated entities for violations of state environmental regulations."


Oil Firm's Baytown Plans Are Held Up
San Antonio Express-News, October 16, 2013
"AUSTIN  -  ExxonMobil Corp.'s petrochemical division plans to expand its Baytown complex, the largest refining and petrochemical facility in the United States, are on hold as environmental groups contest the company's permit to add a new multimillion-dollar ethylene-producing unit."

Regulatory Developments

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


TCEQ 'Cannot Approve' Exide's Frisco Cleanup Plan
CBSDFW.com, October 11, 2013
"The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality says it 'cannot approve' Exide Technologies' assessment report for the former Frisco battery recycling plant."


Split Over $2B State Water Infrastructure Fund
Fort Worth Star-Telegram, October 27, 2013
"AUSTIN, Texas  -  Early voting is underway on whether to tap the state's rainy day fund to create a $2 billion water infrastructure fund, but while the constitutional amendment enjoys widespread support, there is vocal conservative opposition that could derail it in a low-turnout election."

Reused Wastewater Key to Trinity River's Survival
The Texas Tribune, October 16, 2013
"The Trinity River begins in far north Texas as four distinct forks."

Biologist Says Shared Conservation Needed for Matagorda Bay
Southwest Farm Press, October 11, 2013
"In spite of late summer, early fall rains across Texas, the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) is petitioning the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to allow them to cut off Colorado River inflows to Matagorda Bay, a measure the Authority claims is needed in order to meet the water demands of its many city, industry and agriculture customers."

TCEQ Establishes Water Project Liaison in Response to Governor's Request
TCEQ Web Site, October 10, 2013
"The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), in response to a request from the governor's office, has established a water project liaison within the TCEQ to assist and coordinate with the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) in implementing House Bill 4."


Intent to Prepare a Regional Environmental Impact Statement for Surface Coal and Lignite Mining in the State of Texas
78 Federal Register 63463, October 24, 2013


Information Collection: General and Oil and Gas Production Requirements in the Outer Continental Shelf; Submitted for OMB Review; Comment Request
78 Federal Register 64237, October 28, 2013

Notice of Availability (NOA) of the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Public Meetings: Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), Gulf of Mexico (GOM), Oil and Gas Lease Sales, Western Planning Area (WPA) Lease Sales 238, 246, and 248
78 Federal Register 64242, October 28, 2013

Notice of Availability (NOA) of a Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS); Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), Gulf of Mexico (GOM), Oil and Gas Lease Sales Eastern Planning Area (EPA) Lease Sales 225 and 226
78 Federal Register 62660, October 22, 2013


Notice and Request for Comments, Tank Vessel Oil Transfers
78 Federal Register 63235, October 23, 2013

National Offshore Safety Advisory Committee; Meeting
78 Federal Register 63233, October 23, 2013


Extension of Comment Period for the NPDES Electronic Reporting Rule
78 Federal Register 64435, October 29, 2013

Withdrawal of Direct Final Rule, Amendment to Standards and Practices for All Appropriate Inquiries
78 Federal Register 64403, October 29, 2013

Proposed Rule, Approval and Promulgation of Air Quality Implementation Plans; Texas; Revisions to Rules and Regulations for Control of Air Pollution; Permitting of Grandfathered Facilities
78 Federal Register 63929, October 25, 2013

EPA Releases Greenhouse Gas Emissions Data From Large Facilities
EPA Web Site, October 23, 2013
"WASHINGTON - Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its third year of greenhouse gas data detailing carbon pollution emissions and trends broken down by industrial sector, greenhouse gas, geographic region, and individual facility."

Notice of Extension of the Public Comment Period on the Draft Toxicological Review of Benzo[a]pyrene: In Support of the Summary Information on the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) and the Addition of Benzo[a]pyrene to the Agenda for the December 2013 IRIS Bimonthly Meeting
78 Federal Register 63464, October 24, 2013

Supreme Court to Weigh EPA Permits for Power Plant Emissions
WESA, October 16, 2013
"The Supreme Court has agreed to review an Obama administration policy that requires new power plants and other big polluting facilities to apply for permits to emit greenhouse gases."


Feds Signal Support of Multi-State Plan on Lesser Prairie Chicken, Fuel Optimism
MyWestTexas.com, October 24, 2013
"An administrator with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department briefed local oilmen Thursday on the work that lies ahead in a five-state plan to protect the lesser prairie chicken, even as the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife signaled its approval of the effort and eased some fears that the agency will issue an 'endangered' listing that could undermine the oil boom."

Finding of No Significant Impact for the Renewal and Amendment to the Barton Springs Pool Habitat Conservation Plan, City of Austin, Travis County, Texas
78 Federal Register 64001, October 25, 2013

Final Rule, Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Revised Critical Habitat for the Comal Springs Dryopid Beetle, Comal Springs Riffle Beetle, and Peck's Cave Amphipod
78 Federal Register 63100, October 23, 2014


OSHA Extends Comment Period on Proposed Silica Rule to Provide Additional Time for Public Input
OSHA Web Site, October 25, 2013
"WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration is extending the public comment period for an additional 47 days on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Occupational Exposure to Crystalline Silica."

OSHA Releases New Resources to Better Protect Workers From Hazardous Chemicals
OSHA Web Site, October 24, 2013
"WASHINGTON - Each year in the United States, tens of thousands of workers are made sick or die from occupational exposures to the thousands of hazardous chemicals that are used in workplaces every day."


Aging Dams, Booming Growth, and the Search for Solutions
StateImpact Texas, October 17, 2013
"In a peaceful, wooded corner of Bastrop County, Texas sits one of the unluckiest dams in the state."


Air Quality in the Industrial Heartland of Alberta, Canada and Potential Impacts on Human Health
ScienceDirect, October 2013
"This paper characterizes ambient levels of 77 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the region using high-precision measurements collected in summer 2010."

U.S. Energy-Related Carbon Dioxide Emissions, 2012
U.S. Energy Information Administration, October 21, 2013
"U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide emissions declined 3.8 percent in 2012."

Toward an Evidence-Based Fracking Debate: Science, Democracy, and Community Right to Know in Unconventional Oil and Gas Development
Union of Concerned Scientists Web Site, October 2013
"This report looks at unconventional oil and gas development broadly - from the perspective of an a affected community - and thus employs the broader term fracking as it is used in general parlance, because community concerns encompass many parts of unconventional oil and gas development, including the well construction, production, wastewater disposal, distribution, and storage."

Gas Ceiling: Assessing the Climate Risks of an Overreliance on Natural Gas for Electricity
Union of Concerned Scientists Web Site, September 2013
"In addition to producing heat trapping CO2 emissions when combusted, natural gas emits other global warming pollutants as it is extracted and distributed."

Treading Water: How States Can Minimize the Impact of Power Plants on Aquatic Life
GRACE Communications Foundation Web Site, September 2013
"The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed, and is expected to soon finalize, a new water pollution regulation for cooling water intake structures at existing power plants."

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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