Judging by the long-running dispute between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the State of Texas over greenhouse gas permitting under the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) program, one might assume GHG permitting in Texas has been stalled, or at least slowed.
That assumption would be wrong according to an announcement from the EPA this week. On Aug. 5, it finalized the 50th GHG permit issued to a Texas applicant since the process began in 2011. That puts the state in the lead nationwide by a large margin for EPA permits (states have issued another 128 under their own programs).
Of the 61 permits the EPA has issued, 50 have been for Texas-based projects. Since 2011, it has received 83 permit applications, of which four are proposed and another 11 are under development (the remainder have been withdrawn or abandoned).
Texas and the EPA spent several years fighting over GHG permitting after the agency disapproved the state’s permitting program for minor new sources in 2010, and the state in turn refused to implement a state-level GHG program. The bale of red tape that resulted—applicants were then forced to pursue two separate permits, one from the EPA and another from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ)—finally moved the Texas Legislature last year to direct the TCEQ to come up with a GHG permitting plan. That plan got preliminary approval from the EPA in February, and the TCEQ will take over permitting on Sept. 2.
That Texas leads the nation in EPA permits should not be surprising given the amount of GHG-intensive industrial activity that goes on in the state.
—Thomas W. Overton is a POWER associate editor.