Pillsbury’s Anne Idsal Austin moderated a Federal Bar Association (Houston Chapter) panel discussion with Erin Chancellor, Director of Legal Services at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), and Sam Gammage, General Counsel of the Texas Chemical Council (TCC), on Monday, April 18. The panelists brought to bear their regulatory, legislative, and legal expertise to discuss EPA’s increased emphasis on environmental justice (EJ) and Title VI, the TCEQ’s proposed compliance history rule, and the upcoming Sunset Review of the TCEQ
Below are several key takeaways from the discussion:
- Discussion of the pending question of whether EPA possesses the statutory and regulatory authority to weigh EJ and cumulative impact concerns when granting or denying a permit when all state and federal permitting requirements have otherwise been met. EPA has not given a definitive answer to this question yet, but it promises that guidance on the topic is forthcoming.
- The compliance history rule proposal marks a change at the TCEQ to more immediately address a facility’s classification related to an emergency or catastrophic event, which may have permitting implications for those facilities. This proposal was referenced alongside the upward adjustment to the TCEQ’s penalty policy as well as the implementation of SB 900 via TCEQ rulemaking next year.
- Sunset Review of the TCEQ is ongoing and is an intense time for the agency and the regulated community. Educating legislators and their staffs is a considerable part of the process to ensure a high level of familiarity and understanding of the TCEQ and its programs. At this stage, Sunset Commission recommendations are anticipated related to enforcement, the public meeting process and EJ, permitting, and other efficiencies or necessary changes.