The Environmental Protection Agency has partly taken Texas' air permitting program. The EPA will issue greenhouse gas permits to facilities in Texas after today's announcement that states are now obligated to regulate greenhouse gases. Texas is the only state that has chosen not to comply with EPA mandates. A letter was sent to Bryan Shaw, Chairman the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, notifying the state agency.
The unwillingness of Texas state officials to implement this portion of the federal program leaves EPA no choice but to resume it's role as the permitting authority, in order to assure that businesses in Texas are not subject to delays or potential legal challenges and are able to move forward with planned construction and expansion projects that will create jobs and otherwise benefit the state's and the nation's economy.
Seven states, including Arizona, Florida, Idaho, and Oregon, are allowing the EPA to issue greenhouse permits for industries until the states revise their air permitting programs.
In today's EPA announcement, Gina McCarthy, Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation, said beginning January 2, 2011 industries that are planning to build new facilities or make major changes must obtain permits and implement cost-effective technology to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
But no hard standard was required by the EPA.
"It's a standard setting process. It's not establishing a tonnage that should be emitted, or shouldn't be emitted," McCarthy said. "It's a sector approach and it will be applied to each facility and then we'll move that forward. So this is not any type of a cap approach."
The EPA will propose standards for power plants in July 2011 and for refineries in December 2011 based on a public comment process.
A TCEQ spokesperson told KUT they will not be taking interviews or giving comment on the EPA announcement but will be issuing a statement soon.