Thursday, January 30, 2014

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Attorney General Abbott Applauds Agreement for Approval of Texas Flex Permits Program

Attorney General Abbott Applauds Agreement for Approval of Texas Flex Permits Program

AUSTIN—Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott issued the following statement regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s announcement that it has reached an agreement with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for approval of Texas’ long-standing and successful Flexible Permits Program:

“For almost two decades, the Texas Flex Permits Program has been an effective and legal Texas-based solution to air permitting in our state. We are pleased that the State successfully negotiated with the EPA to obtain a long-overdue path to approval and an agreement that ensures the continued success of this long-standing, successful state air permitting program. This agreement strikes the right balance between helping keep the air we breathe clean while allowing Texas businesses to operate efficiently and create jobs.”

Texas’ Flexible Permits Program was established and sent to the EPA for approval in 1994 – when Ann Richards was Governor of Texas and Bill Clinton was President of the United States. Although the TCEQ has been issuing flexible permits without interference from the federal government since Texas first established the program in 1994, the Obama Administration’s EPA rejected the rules and disapproved the Texas program on July 15, 2010.

Under the federal Clean Air Act, however, the EPA was required to act on Texas’ rules within 18 months of the program’s creation. On July 23, 2010, Attorney General Abbott filed a legal challenge to the EPA’s action, arguing that the EPA improperly rejected the State’s successful air permitting program and did so more than 16 years after it was established and utilized by Texas regulators. On Aug. 13, 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued a ruling in support of Texas and rejecting the EPA’s unlawful disapproval of the program. This week, the EPA and TCEQ announced that they had come to an agreement to approve the program.

Previous news releases on Texas’ Flex Permits Program:

7-26-2010: State of Texas Challenges EPA's Flex Permit Ruling

12-7-2010: Attorney General Abbott Challenges EPA’s Abrupt Change of Position and Disapproval of Texas' Flex Permit Program

8-13-2012: Texas Wins Another Victory Against the EPA, Court Overturns Agency’s Baseless Disapproval of State’s Flex Permits Program