HOUSTON (Reuters) - The Environmental Protection Agency said on Tuesday it had disapproved parts of Texas’ program for permitting new industrial pollution sources.
The action will not affect permits at the state’s refineries, in which Texas leads the nation.
EPA has been wrestling with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to end the use of a single permit for a plant with multiple pollution sources, instead of a permit for each pollution source at a plant as is done in most states.
The dispute has triggered a lawsuit by the Texas attorney general against the EPA.
Under the new source review portion of the U.S. Clean Air Act, a new pollution source is to have the best type of pollution control and evaluate pollution coming from the new source and its relation to the total pollution coming from a plant.
“One example is the pollution control project standard permit revision offered by TCEQ,” EPA said in a statement. “The permit is designed to streamline permitting of changes within a plant but lacked adequate review of impacts on total air pollution levels should the changes be approved.”
A TCEQ spokesman faulted EPA’s decision, which comes six years after the state submitted it for federal approval.
“TCEQ is confident that our permitting program meets all provisions of the federal Clean Air Act,” said commission spokesman Terry Clawson. “EPA cannot deny the tremendous progress our state’s air permitting programs have achieved, which is measured in cleaner air across the state.”
TCEQ submitted additional proposed changes in the permitting program for EPA approval earlier this month.
Under the Clean Air Act, plants like refineries are issued permits stating the amounts and types of pollution they are allowed to release. Failure to adhere to the limits can trigger fines and even loss of the permit.
Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Bernard Orr