EPA, Texas reach deal on clean air plan

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 29, 2014 at 6:08 pm •  Published: January 29, 2014
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DALLAS (AP) — Federal and state environmental officials said Wednesday that they've reached an agreement on portions of the Texas clean air plan that for years have been points of contention.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said the conditional agreement on state permits will allow some operating flexibility to major air-pollution sources, such as oil refineries.

"We are pleased that the TCEQ and EPA have been able to reach an agreement for EPA to propose conditional approval of the Texas flexible permit program, and that the EPA now understands why the program is legal and effective," TCEQ Chairman Bryan Shaw said in a statement.

The deal comes after years of bitter bickering between the federal and state agencies over environmental regulations. The disagreement peaked almost four years ago when the EPA overturned a long-term flexible permitting program, saying it did not meet federal clean air rules. The move forced more than 100 industries, including some of the nation's largest refineries, to work directly with the EPA to get new operating papers.

The Texas agency challenged in court the EPA's 2010 decision to overturn the state program, which also allowed plants to operate under an emissions "umbrella" but did not separately detail pollution from different sources.

In 2012, a divided 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel ruled that the EPA had violated the Clean Air Act by rejecting the program.

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