Environmental groups seek to have Texas Commission stripped of certain license authority

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Caddo Lake Institute (CLI) are asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to strip Texas of some of the responsibilities that it had previously delegated to the state under the nation’s Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.

The groups have filed a Jan. 11 petition with EPA asking that it “review and withdraw its delegations of permitting authority to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ),” documenting recent actions by the Texas legislature that have made it impossible for TCEQ to fulfill its duties to protect the health of Texas citizens. 

During the last Texas legislative session, EPA sent a letter warning – and numerous people testified — that proposed legislation damaged core safeguards for clean air and water guaranteed to the public under our nation’s landmark environmental laws, and that the proposed legislation jeopardized delegation of federal programs.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) made headlines Jan. 8 when he called for a “Convention of States” to pursue a number of constitutional amendments “to restore the Rule of Law” and rein in the federal government

“The legislature and Governor Abbott thumbed their noses at these warnings [from EPA],” said Jim Marston, EDF Vice President and Regional Director of its Austin, Texas office. “They passed and signed laws, respectively, that resulted in Texas’s clean air and clean water programs no longer meeting minimum legal safeguards, which puts the health of Texas families at risk.”

“The Texas laws create fundamentally unfair legal processes that deprive all Texans of basic rights and will result in more pollution in our state,” Marston said.

“The legislature also has repeatedly underfunded the state environmental agency to the point that the TCEQ cannot adequately do its job. Sadly, because our current office holders will not protect Texans from dangerous pollution, we have no choice but to ask EPA to exercise its fundamental duty under the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts and to retake responsibility to administer these vital national health programs,” said the EDF official.  

The petition specifically asks EPA to revoke the state’s authority for permitting under the Clean Air Act’s new source review program and under the Clean Water Act’s National Pollution Discharge Elimination program.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.