Early Action Compact (EAC) Plans 2002-2005
In December 2002, three near-nonattainment areas in Texas entered into Early Action Compacts (EACs) with the TCEQ and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Austin–San Marcos (AUS), San Antonio (SAN), and Northeast Texas (NETX). Although the EAC process eventually resulted in the development of revisions to the State Implementation Plan for these three areas, this process differed enough from typical SIP development to warrant further explanation.
- Recent Activity (updated 8/24/2005)
- Early Action Compact Plans
- Useful Documents
- Useful Links
In 1999, in response to the promulgation of the new eight-hour ozone national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS), local elected officials and air quality planners in the San Antonio “near-nonattainment” area proposed the Accelerated Attainment Area concept to the TCEQ and the EPA. This concept, which San Antonio designed to voluntarily achieve the eight-hour ozone standard, eventually developed into the Early Implementation Plan. Neither concept was ever endorsed by the EPA, although in 2001 the EPA proposed the Ozone Flex program (sometimes known as “O3 Flex”) to allow areas to create voluntary plans to address the one-hour ozone standard.
The TCEQ’s commissioners were committed to the concept of voluntary, early action toward the eight-hour standard, and throughout the next year continued to work with the EPA and members of the environmental community toward that end. In March 2002, the TCEQ approached the EPA about approving the concept of “early action plans.” The plans would be used by areas that are in attainment of the one-hour ozone standard (with no monitored violations), but are approaching or monitoring exceedances of the eight-hour standard. The plans would be established through a compact between local, state. and EPA officials.
This concept of early voluntary eight-hour air quality plans, or Early Action Compacts, was endorsed by EPA Region 6 in June 2002, then slightly modified and made available nationally in November. These plans include all the necessary elements of a comprehensive air quality plan, but are tailored to local needs and driven by local decisions. An Early Action Compact is designed to develop and implement control strategies, account for growth, and achieve and maintain the eight-hour ozone standard. This approach offers a more expeditious time line for achieving emission reductions earlier than the EPA’s expected eight-hour implementation rulemaking, while providing “fail-safe” provisions for the area to revert to the traditional State Implementation Plan process if specific milestones are not met.
The principles of the three-party Early Action Compact, to be executed by local, state and EPA officials, are:
Early planning, implementation, and emission reductions leading to expeditious attainment and maintenance of the eight-hour ozone standard.
Local control of the measures to be employed, with broad-based public input.
- State support to ensure technical integrity of the early action plan.
- Formal incorporation of the early action plan into the SIP.
- Deferral of the effective date of nonattainment designation and related requirements so long as all Compact terms and milestones are met.
- Safeguards to return areas to traditional SIP requirements should Compact terms or milestones be unfulfilled, with appropriate credit given for emission-reduction measures implemented.
On December 9, 2002, the Alamo Area Council of Governments, a stakeholder group for San Antonio, entered into an Early Action Compact agreement with the TCEQ and the EPA, making it the first area in the nation to begin the EAC process. The Austin and Northeast Texas near-nonattainment areas followed suit, signing compacts of their own on December 18 and 20, 2002, respectively. These three areas proceeded to develop EAC plans for submittal to the TCEQ on March 31, 2004. Posted here are the EAC agreements submitted to the EPA in December 2002, and the EAC SIPs submitted to the TCEQ on March 31, 2004.
On June 2, 2005, the EPA issued final approval to extend the deferral of the effective date of air quality designations for 14 EAC areas which will still be covered by the one-hour standard as they work to meet the eight-hour standard ahead of schedule. One of these areas is the San Antonio EAC area. These 14 areas had entered into an EAC before April 2004 when the EPA designated areas for the eight-hour ozone NAAQS. At that time the EPA deferred the effective date of the nonattainment designation for the 14 areas until September 30, 2005. The EPA has now extended the deferral of the effective date for each of the 14 EAC areas until December 31, 2006. Due to the terms of the compact, the San Antonio area must keep certain one-hour ozone controls in place until they meet the more protective eight-hour ozone standard. In exchange for a deferred effective date of their eight-hour ozone designation, the San Antonio Early Action Compact members have agreed to take action to achieve clean air earlier than required under the eight-hour standard—no later than Dec. 31, 2007. To learn more about this proposal More about this proposal.
At their Work Session on April 30, 2004, the TCEQ’s commissioners discussed possible revisions to the State Implementation Plan (SIP) and several potential rule revisions requested by the EAC areas. The Commission decided to consider the proposal on July 14, 2004.
On July 14, 2004, the Commission proposed these recommended revisions including EAC attainment demonstrations for Austin, San Antonio, and Northeast Texas, and, at the request of the Austin and San Antonio areas, rule changes to 30 TAC Chapters 114 and 115. The commissioners adopted the three EAC SIP revisions on November 17, 2004. The Austin and Northeast Texas SIP revisions were approved by the EPA in the Federal Register on August 19, 2005, while the San Antonio SIP revision was approved on August 22, 2005.
This section provides a brief summary of the changes associated with each SIP revision and rule change.
- Austin EAC SIP Revision: The adopted revision to the SIP consists of an eight-hour ozone attainment demonstration for the area based on the local plan submitted to TCEQ by the area in March 2004, under its EAC. This revision contains results of photochemical modeling and technical documentation in support of the attainment demonstration. As a result of these analyses, and at the request of the local governments, the revision includes rule revisions implementing a vehicle inspection and maintenance (I/M) program in Travis and Williamson Counties, a new rule allowing jurisdictions to enforce heavy-duty diesel idling restrictions within their boundaries through an enforcement agreement with TCEQ, and—for all five counties—revisions to the VOC rules for degreasing, Stage 1 vapor recovery, and cutback asphalt use.
- San Antonio EAC SIP Revision: The adopted revision to the SIP consists of an eight-hour ozone attainment demonstration for the area based on the local plan submitted to TCEQ by the area in March 2004, under its EAC. This revision contains results of photochemical modeling and technical documentation in support of the attainment demonstration. As a result of these analyses, and at the request of the San Antonio local governments, the revision includes—for all four counties—revisions to the VOC rules for degreasing and Stage 1 vapor recovery.
- Northeast Texas EAC SIP Revision: The adopted revision to the SIP consists of an eight-hour ozone attainment demonstration for the area based on the local plan submitted to TCEQ by the area in March 2004, under its EAC. This revision contains results of photochemical modeling and technical documentation in support of the attainment demonstration.
- Vehicle Inspection and Maintenance (I/M) Rule: The adopted rulemaking would require all 2–24 year old gasoline vehicles in Travis and Williamson Counties to undergo an annual emissions inspection test along with the current annual safety inspection. The program would be similar to the I/M program currently operated in other areas of the state.
- Heavy-Duty Diesel Idling Rule: The adopted rulemaking would allow local governmental entities to enforce heavy-duty-diesel idling restrictions within their jurisdictions if they sign an enforcement agreement with TCEQ.
- VOC Measures: The adopted rulemaking would revise 30 TAC Chapter 115, Subchapters C, E, and F to implement VOC controls on degreasing units, require the use of Stage 1 vapor-recovery equipment in gasoline stations with greater than 25,000 gallons per month of throughput, and prohibit the seasonal use of cutback asphalt. Degreasing and Stage 1 Vapor recovery changes will be applicable to the five Austin EAC counties and the four San Antonio EAC counties, while cutback asphalt restrictions will only be applicable in the Austin area.
Air Quality Plans
The links below take you to a listing of all air quality plans, compacts, agreements, and SIPs in Texas, including plans that pertain to the EAC areas.
- SIP Revisions (see columns titled “NET,” “AUS,” and “SA”)
- EAC Plans (see columns titled “NET,” “AUS,” and “SA”)
- Agreements (see columns titled “NET,” “AUS,” and “SA”)
- EPA Early Action Compact Web page—The EPA’s official Web page on Early Action Compacts
- Capital Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG)
- Air Quality in South Texas (AACOG)
- Northeast Texas Air Care
- Austin-Round Rock and the State Implementation Plan
- San Antonio and the State Implementation Plan
- Northeast Texas and the State Implementation Plan