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TCEQ National Comments Log - Comments Relating to Multimedia and Administrative Issues

Official statements of the TCEQ's position regarding national policies and activities relating to multimedia and administrative issues.

See also: 2003-2009: TCEQ National Comments Relating to Multimedia and Administrative Issues

 

2010 to Current: TCEQ National Comments Relating to Multimedia and Administrative Issues
Date
Submitted
Short Title
02/26/14 Technical Update of the Social Cost of Carbon for Regulatory Impact Analysis Under Executive Order No. 12866
01/03/14 Draft FY 2014-2018 EPA Strategic Plan
01/03/14 Draft EPA Climate Change Adaptation Implementation Plan
12/12/13 NPDES Electronic Reporting Rule
05/28/13 Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: Adversity and Compliance with Environmental Health-Based Thresholds
04/05/13 Draft EPA Cilmate Adaptation Plan
02/08/13 Draft Quality Standard for Environmental Data Collection, Production, and Use By Non-EPA (External) Organizations
01/28/13 Third External Review Draft of the Integrated Science Assessment for Lead
04/13/12 Revising Underground Storage Tank Regulations—Revisions to Existing Requirements and New Requirements for Secondary Containment and Operator Training
04/02/12 Draft Integrated Science Assessment for Lead
01/19/12 6-Month Extension of Final Determination for the Proposed Listing of the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard as Endangered
11/04/11 Draft National Toxicology Program (NTP) Monograph on Health Effects of Low-Level Lead
01/14/11 Guidance on Planning, Implementing, Maintaining, and Enforcing Institutional Controls at Contaminated Sites
12/27/10 Draft Toxicological Review of Hexavalent Chromium
08/30/10 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Petitions to List Nine Species of Mussels from Texas
08/25/10 Draft Toxicological Review of Formaldehyde in Support of Summary Information on the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS)
07/29/10 Draft FY 2011-2015 Strategic Plan
07/07/10 Draft EPA’s Reanalysis of Key Issues Related to Dioxin Toxicity and Response to NAS Comments
03/26/10 Draft Toxicological Review of Inorganic Arsenic: In Support of the Summary Information on the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS)

DATE SUBMITTED: 02/26/14

SHORT TITLE: Technical Update of the Social Cost of Carbon for Regulatory Impact Analysis Under Executive Order No. 12866 Adobe Acrobat PDF Document

SUBMITTED TO: U.S. Office of Management and Budget

OFFICE PREPARING: Office of Air

STAFF CONTACT: Mike Hoke

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS:

The TCEQ is concerned that the timeframe for submittal of comments has not allowed sufficient time to review and understand the multiple years of previous work on the SCC that was not subject to adequate public comment.

The assumptions, both scientific and economic, of the Interagency Working Group that developed the initial SCC estimates are largely unknown and were not subject to independent peer review as called for by the Information Quality Act and OMB's own internal guidelines.

The models used to derive SCC estimates suffer from considerable uncertainty and speculation in critical inputs including the amount of future carbon emissions, the impact of those emissions on the climate, and the monetization of those impacts.

The interagency group did not include a 7% discount rate in their development of the SCC estimates as called for by OMB guidance. The selection of discount rates can have a significant impact on the results of the analysis.

The SCC estimates are based on the purported global benefits of carbon reductions. Given that the SCC estimates will be used to compare benefits to the domestic costs of a regulatory action, the SCC estimates should be directly related to domestic benefits.

The TCEQ recommends that the SCC estimates not be used in present or future rulemakings until there has been a complete and thorough independent peer review of the process and model data.

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DATE SUBMITTED: 01/03/14

SHORT TITLE: Draft FY 2014-2018 EPA Strategic Plan Adobe Acrobat PDF Document

SUBMITTED TO: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

OFFICE PREPARING: Office of Air

STAFF CONTACT: Mike Hoke

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS:

The Office of Water is concerned that the implementation of these objectives for the protection and restoration of waterways may not reflect the cooperative partnership expressed in the Plan. States should be afforded the ability to address the issues which are their priorities for achieving water quality protection and restoration. OW also raises concerns about the portions of the Strategic Plan related to climate change.

The Office of Waste is concerned many of the program improvements and advancements discussed by EPA may increase demand on the resources of state authorized programs. EPA should ensure that adequate funding is provided for any regulatory actions outlined in the Strategic Plan.

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DATE SUBMITTED: 01/03/14

SHORT TITLE: Draft EPA Climate Change Adaptation Implementation Plan Adobe Acrobat PDF Document

SUBMITTED TO: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

OFFICE PREPARING: Office of Air

STAFF CONTACT: Mike Hoke

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS:

The states and the public should be given the opportunity to comment on any changes the EPA Office of Air and Radiation is considering to the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) development and implementation processes to incorporate climate change projections.

Implementation activities should not result in rigid directives which may impede the ability of entities to respond to changes. It is requested that EPA take all steps necessary to ensure states have appropriate flexibility to implement only those actions which are appropriate for the conditions in the state.

State programs are already able to respond to changing conditions. The plans should not hinder the ability of the states to do so.

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DATE SUBMITTED: 12/12/13

SHORT TITLE: NPDES Electronic Reporting Rule Adobe Acrobat PDF Document

SUBMITTED TO: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

OFFICE PREPARING: Office of Water

STAFF CONTACT: Kimberly Wilson

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS:

Comments are proposed that indicate that TCEQ has significant concerns about:

  • EPA's basis for implementing the rule, particularly certain aspects of the rule;
  • the potential loss of NPDES delegation authority – EPA will collect permitting and compliance data if authorized programs do not meet short implementation deadlines and unattainable usage rates;
  • EPA’s general approach in the rule which establishes short implementation timelines and unattainable mandatory usage rates – TCEQ strongly recommends that authorized programs establish implementation timelines, usage rates, and e-Reporting program criteria through e-Reporting Implementation Plans;
  • the implementation timelines – EPA is providing delegated programs 1 to 2 years for full implementation;
  • limited federal funding for states to implement the requirements;
  • the feasibility of maintaining 90% usage of electronic reporting;
  • the cost effectiveness of requiring e-Reporting for all NPDES programs;
  • the inclusion of NPDES programs that require extensive technical and narrative data;
  • the potential challenges resulting from permittees required to report to both TCEQ and EPA concurrently;
  • the inclusion of non-NPDES permitted facilities; and
  • the inclusion of data elements that are not currently required by federal regulations or that are currently required in a substantially different format.

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DATE SUBMITTED: 05/28/13

SHORT TITLE: Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: Adversity and Compliance with Environmental Health-Based Thresholds Adobe Acrobat PDF Document

SUBMITTED TO: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

OFFICE PREPARING: Office of Legal Services

STAFF CONTACT: Anthony Tatu

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS:

  1. There is no basis for eliminating the rebuttable presumption. Historically, EPA has taken the approach that if health based thresholds are being met, there is a presumption of no adverse effects. EPA is proposing to change this approach, but offers no scientific basis for doing so.
  2. The Criteria proposed in the draft guidance are overly vague. The proposed guidance includes vague criteria which can be arbitrarily and capriciously applied to a given situation to conclude that a regulatory agency charged with protecting public health has caused an adverse impact where none can be scientifically demonstrated.
  3. Further justification is needed for the proposed changes to Title VI guidance. EPA should provide an analysis which demonstrates why this change is justified.
  4. TCEQ's practice for deriving and utilizing health-based comparison values is scientifically based and peer reviewed. Therefore, TCEQ does not support any detailed guidance for development and use of values and thresholds for the Title VI complaint and resolution process.

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DATE SUBMITTED: 04/05/13

SHORT TITLE: Draft EPA Climate Adaptation Plan Adobe Acrobat PDF Document

SUBMITTED TO: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

OFFICE PREPARING: Office of the Executive Director

STAFF CONTACT: Minor Hibbs, P.E.

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS:

  1. It should be made clear that States are not obligated to implement the Climate Change Adaptation Plan or any other implementation plans developed under its umbrella.
  2. The states and the public should be given the opportunity to comment on the implementation plans under development by the EPA’s National Environmental Program Offices and Regional Offices.
  3. Reliance on IPCC climate models to predict extreme weather events on a regional or local level is scientifically invalid.
  4. It is unnecessary and inappropriate for the EPA to attempt to account for climate change in the ozone state implementation plan (SIP) process. The Federal Clean Air Act (FCAA) and the current SIP process already take into consideration that factors in the future, regardless of the cause, may interfere with attainment and maintenance of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).

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DATE SUBMITTED: 02/08/13

SHORT TITLE: Draft Quality Standard for Environmental Data Collection, Production, and Use By Non-EPA (External) Organizations Adobe Acrobat PDF Document

SUBMITTED TO: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

OFFICE PREPARING: Office of Compliance and Enforcement

STAFF CONTACT: Sharon Coleman

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS:

  • The EPA's requirement that all project reports must be reviewed by the Quality Assurance Manager or authorized representative is overly burdensome. TCEQ recommends that QA Manager/QA staff review of final reports be allowed on a case-by-case basis, depending upon criteria established during the grant development process, and subject to QA Manager approval.
  • The EPA's requirement that all original reviewers must approve each substantive change to a quality assurance project plan is onerous. Agencies should be able to determine the appropriate level of review and approval for substantive changes on a case-by-case basis.
  • The list of activities involving environmental data encompassed by the Standard should include geospatial data. Without this inclusion, there is a risk that the geospatial data will not be covered under initial QAPPs, the data may have to be qualified or discarded, and the work performed may not be reimbursed.
  • The EPA should clarify the applicability of the QA requirements for specific types of grantee organizations. EPA contends that the requirements apply to the broad audience of all grantee organizations and may not fully apply to every organization. EPA should articulate which requirements apply to which organizations.
  • The EPA should clarify the intended use of the guidance Handbooks for QAPPs and QMPs. TCEQ requests that if EPA's intent is for the guidance to be applied more strictly and/or broadly, EPA should include those specific elements in the Standard.

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DATE SUBMITTED: 01/28/13

SHORT TITLE: Third External Review Draft of the Integrated Science Assessment for Lead Adobe Acrobat PDF Document

SUBMITTED TO: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

OFFICE PREPARING: Office of the Executive Director

STAFF CONTACT: Stephanie Shirley, Ph.D.

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS:

The assessment of the health hazards associated with airborne lead (Pb) has significant regulatory implications. However, the 60-day comment period (which spans several major holidays) does not allow regulatory agencies and stakeholders to provide the most thorough and meaningful comments possible based on an in-depth review and analysis of the 1,762-page second draft ISA and plethora of associated citations. However, to the extent practicable in the short time allotted by EPA, TCEQ staff has identified significant concerns.

The draft ISA frequently lacks transparency and would benefit from a more specific and structured approach. There is frequent inclusion of studies that examined Pb doses and/or modes of action that are not relevant to those potentially associated with low-dose human health effects. Furthermore, there is a failure to adequately describe uncertainties, biases and gaps in knowledge. This results in conclusions based on tenuous, speculative or poorly-characterized studies.

Inhalation of Pb in ambient air is a minor source of Pb exposure compared to exposure by other routes. Given current childhood Pb exposure through air is approximately 200 times less than normal intake from other sources (e.g., food, water, soil and dust) it is highly unlikely that significant risk reduction would result from more restrictive air regulations.

The potential contribution of blood lead levels to neurological endpoints, including IQ and ADHD, is minimal in comparison to the effect of other variables. Clearly, efforts must continue to minimize childhood Pb exposure; however these efforts should be seen in perspective. Lead exposure accounts for a very small proportion of cognitive ability (1-4%), whereas genetic, social and parenting factors account for 40% or more. The money spent attempting to comply with an overly-stringent NAAQS would be better spent in other areas.

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DATE SUBMITTED: 04/13/12

SHORT TITLE: Revising Underground Storage Tank Regulations—Revisions to Existing Requirements and New Requirements for Secondary Containment and Operator Training

SUBMITTED TO: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

OFFICE PREPARING: Office of Waste

STAFF CONTACT: Beth Seaton

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS:

Operator Training

The TCEQ supports the EPA's proposed requirements for operator training and has already implemented operator training requirements for UST owners and operators in the state of Texas. Additionally, the TCEQ suggests amending the definition for "Class B Operator" in 40 CFR Part 280, Section 280.12 to remove the term “day to day” responsibility and recommends the following definition: "Class B operator means the individual who ensures the implementation of applicable regulatory requirements established by the implementing agency." The EPA’s proposed changes will likely require revisions to the existing TCEQ rule.

Secondary Containment

The TCEQ has already implemented secondary containment and interstitial monitoring requirements for UST owners and operators and is therefore generally in support of the EPA’s proposal to add secondary containment and interstitial monitoring requirements for new and replaced tanks and piping in 40 CFR Part 280. Minor changes will have to be made to the TCEQ rules if the EPA’s proposed requirements are adopted.

Operation and Maintenance

The EPA proposes to add requirements for periodic spill, overfill, secondary containment, and release detection testing along with periodic walkthrough inspections to prevent and detect releases. Specifically, the EPA proposes to make the following additions:

  1. Walkthrough Inspections
    The EPA is proposing that owners and operators perform walkthrough inspections of their UST systems, at least once every 30 days. The TCEQ supports the EPA’s proposed requirements for walkthrough inspections, however the TCEQ suggests that some of the 30 day inspection requirements, such as those which involve removal of heavy manhole covers, may be burdensome for UST facility owners and operators and their personnel. The TCEQ further suggests that the walkthrough frequency might be sufficient at a 60 or 90 day interval. Changes to the TCEQ rules will have to be made if the EPA’s proposed requirements are adopted.
  2. Spill Prevention Equipment Tests
    The EPA is proposing that owners and operators test spill prevention equipment at installation and at least once every 12 months for liquid tightness. The TCEQ generally supports the EPA’s proposed requirements for spill prevention equipment testing and suggests that alternative requirements to annual testing be considered. The EPA’s proposed requirements will likely require changes to TCEQ rules.
  3. Overfill Prevention Equipment Tests
    The EPA is proposing that owners and operators test proper operation of overfill prevention equipment at installation and at least once every 3 years. The TCEQ does not object to the EPA’s proposed requirements for overfill prevention tests however the TCEQ suggests that alternatives to triennial testing be considered. Changes to the TCEQ rules will have to be made.
  4. Secondary Containment Tests
    The EPA is proposing that owners and operators test secondary containment areas that use interstitial monitoring at least once every 3 years to ensure the interstitial area has integrity. The EPA proposes an exception to these tests for owners and operators that use specific continuous interstitial monitoring methods. The TCEQ does not object to the EPA’s proposed requirements for secondary containment testing. Changes to the TCEQ rules will have to be made.
  5. Release Detection Equipment
    The EPA is proposing that owners and operators perform annual tests on electronic and mechanical components of their release detection equipment, including Line Leak Detectors (LLD), to ensure proper operation. In general, the TCEQ does not object to the EPA’s proposed requirements for annual testing, as specified. The TCEQ currently requires that LLDs be tested annually, however the TCEQ suggests that annual inspections for all other electronic and mechanical release detection equipment may be unnecessary. Additionally, the TCEQ suggests that the EPA’s proposal for requiring a probability of detection (Pd) of 0.95 and a probability of false alarm (Pfa) of 0.05 as applied to "Manual Tank Gauging" in 40 CFR Part 280, Section 280.40 may be impractical for owners and operators of UST systems. Changes to the TCEQ rules will have to be made.

Proposal to Remove Deferrals

The EPA is proposing to remove the current deferral for UST systems storing fuel only for use by emergency power generators as well as field-constructed tanks (FCT), airport hydrant systems (AHS), and wastewater treatment tank systems. The EPA is also proposing to continue excluding from the UST regulation, wastewater treatment tank systems that are part of a wastewater treatment facility regulated under section 402 or 307(b) of the Clean Water Act. The EPA is also proposing to add to its rule docket a document clarifying airport hydrant system scenarios.

The TCEQ is in support of the EPA’s proposed changes and already regulates emergency power generator UST systems. The TCEQ generally supports the EPA’s decision to remove the deferrals for field-constructed tanks and airport hydrant systems. The TCEQ agrees that continuation of current exclusions for wastewater treatment tanks is appropriate, but feels that the proposed language regarding deferrals may be more restrictive that necessary. The TCEQ respectfully suggests that EPA consider utilizing language currently in effect in the TCEQ rules regarding partial exclusion of wastewater treatment tanks as a guide for its proposed deferral language. The TCEQ is also concerned that the EPA’s proposal to remove deferrals will increase the number of regulated facilities in Texas by approximately 2,000. This would require additional resources to be used for the investigation of these facilities under the Energy Act as well as all other types of investigations including installations, removals, and complaints. Changes will also have to be made to the TCEQ rules if the EPA’s proposed requirements are adopted. With regard to the document clarifying AHS scenarios, the TCEQ feels that this document is helpful but adds unnecessary complexity to the issue. The TCEQ respectfully suggests that EPA consider utilizing language currently in effect in the TCEQ rules which regulate airport hydrant systems in the same manner as other UST systems, except that automatic line leak detectors for pressurized lines in airport hydrant systems are not required.

Overfill Prevention Equipment Requirements

The EPA is proposing to eliminate flow restrictors (ball float valves) in vent lines as an overfill prevention option for owners and operators. This change applies to both newly installed UST systems and to existing UST systems when overfill prevention equipment is replaced. The TCEQ does not object to the EPA’s proposed changes to eliminate flow restrictors as an overfill prevention option. Changes will have to be made to the TCEQ rules.

Internal Lining Requirements

The EPA is proposing that owners and operators permanently close an UST that uses internal lining as the sole method of corrosion protection when certain conditions exist. The TCEQ does not object to the EPA’s proposed changes to internal lining requirements. The TCEQ rules currently prohibit internal lining as the sole method of corrosion protection. The EPA’s proposed requirements will likely not require changes to TCEQ rules.

Changes to Notification Requirements

The EPA is proposing certain notification requirement changes to 40 CFR Part 280, Section 280.22. The TCEQ does not object to the EPA’s proposed changes to notification requirements. The TCEQ rules currently require these procedures. The EPA’s proposed requirements will not require changes to TCEQ rules.

Changes to Alternative Fuel and Compatibility Requirements

The EPA is proposing certain changes to the compatibility requirements in 40 CFR, Part 280, Section 280.32. Additionally, the EPA is proposing changes to the following two definitions in Section 280.12: Regulated Substance and Motor Fuel. The TCEQ does not object to the EPA’s proposed changes to compatibility requirements and agrees that compatibility is an issue that needs to be addressed by the EPA. Additional guidance from the EPA with regards to owner/operator demonstration of compatibility will be beneficial. The TCEQ further suggests that the current definition of “Regulated Substance” in Section 280.12 is appropriate as is without eliminating the phrase “derived from crude oil through processes of separation, conversion, upgrading, and finishing.” The EPA’s proposed requirements will require changes to TCEQ rules.

Definition of Repair

The EPA is proposing to revise the definition of “Repair” in Section 280.12 to clarify that all UST system components are included under the repairs allowed section of the UST regulations. Owners and operators will also be required to test (within 30 days) after a repair to secondary containment areas and spill or overfill equipment. The TCEQ supports the EPA’s proposed clarification of the definition of “Repair” and the proposed testing requirements. The TCEQ also offers, for consideration, its current definition of “Repair”: The restoration, renovation, or mending of a damaged or malfunctioning tank or underground storage tank system component. The EPA’s proposed requirements will require changes to TCEQ rules.

Proposal to Phase Out Vapor and Groundwater Monitoring

The EPA is proposing to phase out vapor and groundwater monitoring as methods of release detection for tanks and piping. The TCEQ does not object to the EPA’s proposal to phase out vapor and groundwater monitoring, however the TCEQ suggests that vapor and groundwater monitoring are effective methods for leak detection when properly installed and utilized. Changes will have to be made to TCEQ rules if the EPA’s proposed requirements are adopted.

Clarifications Regarding Interstitial Monitoring Results and Alarms

The EPA is proposing certain clarifications of UST owners’ and operators’ responsibilities regarding interstitial monitoring results including interstitial alarms. The TCEQ is in general agreement with the proposed clarifications regarding interstitial monitoring results and alarms. The EPA’s proposed requirements will require changes to TCEQ rules.

Incorporation of Newer Technologies

The EPA is proposing to include new technologies developed since the 1988 UST regulations were promulgated and to clarify the use of these technologies. The TCEQ is in general agreement with the EPA’s proposal to include new technologies. The EPA’s proposed requirements will require changes to TCEQ rules.

Updates to Codes of Practice

The EPA is proposing to add new codes of practice as well as update and remove codes of practice listed in the 1988 UST regulations that are no longer applicable or no longer exist. The EPA is proposing that PEI document RP 1200 (Recommended Practices for the Testing and Verification of Spill, Overfill, Leak Detection and Secondary Equipment at UST Facilities) could be used to comply with some of the requirements in EPA’s rule proposal. The TCEQ is in agreement with the proposed changes to the codes of practice, including the addition of RP 1200. Minor changes to TCEQ rules will have to be made.

Removal of Old Upgrade and Implementation Deadlines

The EPA is proposing to remove references to the 1998 upgrade deadline and old phase-in schedules, while continuing to allow testing of corrosion protection and release detection. The TCEQ is in agreement with the proposed changes to the old upgrade deadlines and phase-in schedules. Minor changes to TCEQ rules will have to be made.

Editorial and Technical Corrections

The EPA is proposing specific editorial corrections to the 1998 regulations including spelling, numbering and other editorial corrections. Additionally, the EPA proposes to add guidance and interpretations it developed and implemented since the promulgation of the 1988 regulations. The TCEQ is in agreement with the EPA’s editorial corrections. Minor changes to TCEQ rules will be made as necessary.

Updates to State Program Approval Requirements

The EPA is proposing to make changes to State Program Approval (SPA) regulations in 40 CFR Part 281 in order to address the proposed changes to the UST regulations in 40 CFR Part 280 and to make it consistent with certain requirements in Energy Policy Act of 2005. States with program approval will have 3 years to submit a revised SPA package. The TCEQ is in agreement with the EPA’s proposed updates to the SPA regulations. The TCEQ will need to submit a revised SPA application to EPA within three years of the effective date of the adopted EPA rule changes which incorporates said changes.

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DATE SUBMITTED: 04/02/12

SHORT TITLE: Draft Integrated Science Assessment for Lead

SUBMITTED TO: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

OFFICE PREPARING: Chief Engineer's Office

STAFF CONTACT: Stephanie Shirley, Ph.D.

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS: The assessment of the health hazards associated with airborne lead (Pb) has significant regulatory implications. However, the 60-day comment period does not allow regulatory agencies and stakeholders to provide the most thorough and meaningful comments possible based on an in-depth review and analysis of the 1,467-page second draft ISA and plethora of associated citations. However, to the extent practicable in the short time allotted by EPA, TCEQ staff has identified significant concerns.

The draft ISA frequently lacks transparency and would benefit from a more specific and structured approach. There is frequent inclusion of studies that have examined Pb doses and/or modes of action that are not relevant to those potentially associated with low-dose human health effects. Furthermore, there is a failure to adequately describe uncertainties, biases and gaps in knowledge. This results in conclusions based on tenuous, speculative or poorly-characterized studies.

Inhalation of Pb in ambient air is a minor source of Pb exposure compared to exposure by other routes. Given current childhood Pb exposure through air is approximately 200 times less than normal intake from other sources (e.g., food, water, soil and dust) it is highly unlikely that significant risk reduction would result from more restrictive air regulations.

The potential contribution of blood lead levels to neurological endpoints, including IQ and ADHD, is minimal in comparison to the effect of other variables. Clearly, efforts must continue to minimize childhood Pb exposure; however these efforts should be seen in perspective. Lead exposure accounts for a very small proportion of cognitive ability (1-4%), whereas genetic, social and parenting factors account for 40% or more. The money spent attempting to comply with this overly-stringent NAAQS would be better spent in other areas.

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DATE SUBMITTED: 01/19/12

SHORT TITLE: 6-Month Extension of Final Determination for the Proposed Listing of the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard as Endangered

SUBMITTED TO: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

OFFICE PREPARING: Office of Water

STAFF CONTACT: Kimberly Wilson

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS: Due to the dispute regarding the data to support a listing and the potential impact to the oil and gas and agricultural sectors in Texas, TCEQ submits comments on the inadequacy/inaccuracy of the data available to support an endangered listing, as noted by researchers engaged in the peer review of this listing at Texas Tech University, New Mexico State University, and Texas A&M University. Additionally, the comments cite voluntary conservation activities and recommend that voluntary conservation strategies be afforded the opportunity to be adequately evaluated.

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DATE SUBMITTED: 11/04/11

SHORT TITLE: Draft National Toxicology Program (NTP) Monograph on Health Effects of Low-Level Lead

SUBMITTED TO: U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services (DHHS)

OFFICE PREPARING: Chief Engineer’s Office

STAFF CONTACT: Gulan Sun

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS: The TCEQ feels that some key studies utilized by the U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services (DHHS) in the Draft NTP Monograph are inadequate to demonstrate sufficient evidence of an association between low blood Pb levels (< 5 μg/dL) in children and decreased academic achievement, specific cognitive measures, and increased incidence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Neurological effects such as intelligence quotient (IQ) loss or poor academic performance depend on a variety of factors which may not be appropriately adjusted for in relevant studies, such as parental IQ, socioeconomic status, parent education, and alcohol/drug use. Consequently, when the health outcomes of concern have complex etiologies and important confounders are difficult to obtain data on and adjust for, as with Pb, a scientifically defensible and accurate dose-response assessment is unlikely.

The DHHS should acknowledge that: (1) the dramatic decreases in children’s blood Pb levels are inconsistent with the suggestion that Pb is an appreciable causal factor in the increased frequency of ADHD (i.e., significant decreases in child Pb exposure are inconsistent with increases in the prevalence of ADHD); (2) their analysis of concurrent blood Pb levels failed to support the conclusion that blood Pb levels <5 μg/dL are associated with decreased renal function and blood Pb levels <10 μg/dL are associated with increased blood pressure, hypertension, and cardiovascular-related mortality in adults; and (3) health effects in adults today may have been influenced by blood Pb levels >10 μg/dL that many individuals experienced earlier in life when lead was present in gasoline, paint, etc.

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DATE SUBMITTED: 01/14/11

SHORT TITLE:Guidance on Planning, Implementing, Maintaining, and Enforcing Institutional Controls at Contaminated Sites

SUBMITTED TO: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

OFFICE PREPARING: Chief Engineer’s Office

STAFF CONTACT: Paul Lewis

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS: The TCEQ developed numerous comments from the perspective of its experience with Institutional Controls (IC) presented in 3 groups: general, specific sections, and editorial. In general, TCEQ has been successful with its rules and guidance for IC implementation and recommends EPA add state regulations as an authority for ICs. Other generalities in the document that might not work in Texas include: transfer of an interest in real property to TCEQ; program constraints (procedures or volumes of sites) preclude full utilization of the guidance; assurance for stewardship at CERCLA fund-lead sites without landowner consent for a restrictive covenant; and, delay by federal facilities to file ICs on federal land.

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DATE SUBMITTED: 12/27/10

SHORT TITLE: Draft Toxicological Review of Hexavalent Chromium

SUBMITTED TO: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

OFFICE PREPARING: Chief Engineer’s Office

STAFF CONTACT: Joseph “Kip” Haney

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS: The 90-day EPA comment period is inadequate for regulatory agencies and others to provide the most thorough and meaningful comments based on an in-depth review and analysis of the derivation of the draft SFo. The comment deadline should be extended at least 30 days past the current December 29 deadline to allow stakeholders to perform a more detailed review of the volumes of relevant information and to comment on problematic issues associated with the 300-page draft analysis. However, to the extent practicable in the relatively short time allotted by EPA, TCEQ staff have identified significant concerns.

Along with the draft CrVI assessment, TCEQ is concerned that recent draft EPA assessments (e.g., dioxin, arsenic, formaldehyde) seem to demonstrate a pattern where the EPA timeline is sufficient for a less-than-desirable level of initial EPA analysis but insufficient for EPA to conduct the fully credible, balanced, and transparent assessment the public deserves. This may tend to marginalize EPA over time in terms of a reliable source for scientifically objective and defensible toxicity factors since EPA assessments often rely heavily on a penchant for default procedures representing a seemingly nonobjective and insurmountable hurdle for strongly supported alternative analyses. EPA should apply consistent standards across and within assessments and not apply a higher standard for the scientific defensibility of data which do not support a default or pre-determined EPA assessment pathway.

Regarding CrVI specifically, EPA should not finalize the draft CrVI SFo until they adequately address several significant scientific concerns, which include: (1) EPA’s conclusion that mutagenicity (and consequently carcinogenicity) can occur at doses within gastrointestinal (GI) reductive capacity relied on an entirely speculative mouse reductive capacity, flawed arguments, and is not scientifically sound; (2) available data support that overwhelming the reductive capacity of the mouse GI tract (e.g., the stomach’s ability to convert carcinogenic CrVI into non-carcinogenic CrIII) was likely responsible for the carcinogenicity observed, which presents challenges for EPA’s use of linear, low-dose extrapolation; (3) the mouse and rat cancers are of questionable relevance to humans; (4) epidemiological worker data where oral exposure was significant do not support elevated GI cancer risk; (5) the high rodent drinking water doses are not environmentally relevant; (6) species- and dose-specific differences in bioavailability are likely; and, (7) there are interspecies scaling uncertainties.

Regarding practical implications, for example, using the draft SFo value would result in significantly lower (≥ 10-fold) remediation soil cleanup concentrations within the range of chromium background. Also, the drinking water MCL could be lowered significantly (≈10- to 1,000-fold), potentially to a concentration below analytical detection limits and the ability of existing practical drinking water treatment technologies. Lastly, EPA should postpone finalizing the draft assessment since the generation of new data critical to addressing important data gaps is imminent, then revise the draft assessment as justified based on these new data as opposed to simply interjecting some level of uncertainty deemed sufficient by EPA for ignoring study results.

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DATE SUBMITTED: 08/30/10

SHORT TITLE: Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Petitions to List Nine Species of Mussels from Texas

SUBMITTED TO: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS)

OFFICE PREPARING: Office of Water

STAFF CONTACT: Kelly Keel

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS: TCEQ recommends USFWS not move forward with an endangered or threatened species listing for the nine mussels based on two concerns: 1. Lack of Data: TCEQ’s preliminary assessment suggests that the data might be insufficient to adequately characterize current ranges and population sizes. 2. Vast Implications of Listing: The addition of several of the mussels under review could greatly expand the current geographic scope of regulatory evaluations and have serious impacts on water quality management programs in Texas.

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DATE SUBMITTED: 08/25/10

SHORT TITLE: Draft Toxicological Review of Formaldehyde in Support of Summary Information on the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS)

SUBMITTED TO: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

OFFICE PREPARING: Chief Engineer’s Office

STAFF CONTACT: Joseph “Kip” Haney

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS: The 90-day comment period is insufficient for regulatory agencies and others to provide thorough and meaningful comments based on an in-depth review and analysis of the draft IRIS review. EPA should extend the comment period at least 90 days past the August 31 deadline to allow stakeholders to perform a more detailed review of the volumes of relevant information and to comment on problematic issues associated with the 1,043-page draft IRIS review. However, to the extent practicable in the short time allotted by EPA, TCEQ staff have identified significant concerns.

EPA should not finalize the draft IRIS review until they adequately address several significant scientific concerns. These concerns regard such issues as: (1) inadequate overall evidence to show a causal relationship between formaldehyde exposure and Hodgkin lymphoma and leukemia; (2) biological implausibility for formaldehyde causing these two cancers; (3) inappropriate dose-response assessments (e.g., choice of dose metric, potency estimate); and, (4) a questionable assumption of greater childhood susceptibility to formaldehyde-induced cancer. Using the proposed URF would result in the 1 in 100,000 excess risk air concentration (0.08 ppb) not being met anywhere in the world, indoors or outdoors (or in our own breath), including remote locations such as Alert, Nunavut, Canada, located in the arctic. Additionally, recent state-of-the-science research clearly showing that Hodgkin lymphoma and leukemia are implausible was not seriously considered in the draft IRIS review document.

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DATE SUBMITTED: 07/29/10

SHORT TITLE: Draft FY 2011-2015 Strategic Plan

SUBMITTED TO: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

OFFICE PREPARING: Intergovernmental Relations Division

STAFF CONTACT: Mike Hoke

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS: EPA’s Draft FY 2011-2015 Strategic Plan sets forth the TCEQ’s long-term vision, strategic goals and objectives, and strategies to achieve them. The Draft Plan includes strategic measures and the specific measurable environmental and human health outcomes the TCEQ will achieve over the next five years. The Draft Plan is divided into three sections: 1) five strategic goals, 2) five cross-cutting fundamental strategies, and 3) the strategic measurement framework.

TCEQ raises objections on the grounds that the Draft Plan will obligate TCEQ resources, will not be effective, and does not support state programs. The EPA should seek to balance regulatory actions with sustainable economic development, ensure actions are grounded in peer-reviewed science, and make certain that enforcement is not considered more important than compliance. TCEQ reiterates its position that the Clean Air Act is not an appropriate way to regulate greenhouse gases.

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DATE SUBMITTED: 07/07/10

SHORT TITLE: Draft EPA’s Reanalysis of Key Issues Related to Dioxin Toxicity and Response to NAS Comments

SUBMITTED TO: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

OFFICE PREPARING: Chief Engineer’s Office

STAFF CONTACT: Joseph “Kip” Haney

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS: To the extent practicable in the short time allotted by EPA, TCEQ staff have identified significant concerns. EPA should not finalize the draft SFo and RfD until they adequately address several significant scientific concerns. These concerns regard such issues as: (1) EPA using a linear extrapolation method for cancer effects despite the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) concluding that a nonlinear approach is justified for the carcinogenic assessment; (2) lack of EPA justification for use of a 95% upper confidence limit instead of the statistical best estimate of the regression coefficient for the draft SFo; and (3) further evaluation of the intrahuman uncertainty factor for the draft RfD. The draft SFo and RfD may be overly conservative, and if finalized, the practical implications may be significant and numerous. For example, use of the draft values would indicate that dioxin levels in the typical US diet are unacceptably high. Using the proposed SFo value may result in significantly lower (perhaps over 100 times) remediation soil cleanup concentrations. Further, if the draft SFo is finalized, residential soil cleanup concentrations could be within the range of rural background levels, which would not be feasible from a compliance perspective and could result in costly studies to determine site-specific background concentrations. Using these draft SFo and RfD values would imply that the US diet and typical soil dioxin soil levels could be considered unsafe, unnecessarily alarming the public regarding background exposures beyond their control. The significant change in the SFo may cause external challenges to the adequacy of historic response actions at remediation sites. Also, the federal drinking water MCL and ambient water quality criteria for dioxin could be lowered significantly.

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DATE SUBMITTED: 03/26/2010

SHORT TITLE: Draft Toxicological Review of Inorganic Arsenic: In Support of the Summary Information on the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS)

SUBMITTED TO: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

OFFICE PREPARING: Chief Engineer's Office

STAFF CONTACT: Joseph 'Kip' Haney

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS:
The 60-day EPA comment period is inadequate for regulatory agencies and others to provide meaningful comments based on an in-depth review and analysis of the derivation of the draft SFo. The comment deadline should be extended at least 60 days past the current April 20 deadline to allow for a more detailed review of the hundreds of pages of documents and complex issues relevant to derivation of the draft SFo for arsenic. However, to the extent practicable in the short time allotted by EPA, TCEQ staff have identified significant concerns.

A series of toxicologically-based comments conclude that EPA should not finalize the draft SFo until several significant scientific concerns are adequately addressed by EPA. These concerns regard such issues as inaccurate estimates of dose, inadequate dose-response data, and a potentially inappropriate excess risk calculation (BEIR IV) methodology. Additionally, the draft SFo may be overly conservative and, if finalized, the practical implications may be significant and numerous. For example, use of the draft SFo would indicate that the upper end of EPA’s acceptable risk range (1 in 1,000,000 to 1 in 10,000) is exceeded by exposure to inorganic arsenic from the typical U.S. diet, the average U.S. arsenic drinking water concentration, the average U.S. intake of rice (white or brown), eating fish and other seafood, and background (i.e., naturally-occurring) soil arsenic concentrations. Such analyses would imply that the U.S. diet, the average arsenic level in the nation’s drinking water supply, eating fish/seafood and certain other food items (e.g., rice), and exposure to typical background arsenic soil levels could be considered unsafe from a regulatory perspective. Consequently, there may be a potential for unwarranted advisories or warning labels on certain foods, there could be a potential for unacceptable risk due to arsenic in fish tissue to cause more waterbodies to be listed as impaired, the federal MCL for arsenic could be lowered, and typical background soil arsenic levels would be unsafe for residential exposure. The significant change in the SFo may also cause external challenges to the adequacy of historic response actions at remediation sites.

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