Confidential Information in Air Permit Applications
Section 382.041(a) of the Texas Health and Safety Code (relating to confidential information) states in part: "[A] member, employee, or agent of the commission may not disclose information submitted to the commission relating to secret processes or methods of manufacture or production that is identified as confidential when submitted."
In addition, the Texas Open Records Act and Attorney General Opinion No. H-836 (dated June 14, 1976) each address the type of information that may be treated as confidential and who may access such data. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) policy regarding confidential information submitted in support of a permit application/request is summarized below.
- The specific names and amounts of air contaminants emitted into the atmosphere from a permitted facility CANNOT be classified as confidential.
- The amount paid by an applicant for the permit application fee cannot be held confidential; however, if no estimate of capital cost is included with a permit application, the applicant shall pay a fee of $75,000.
- Information which a company desires the agency to treat as confidential must be clearly labeled "CONFIDENTIAL" on EACH PAGE. The information must be marked at the time of submittal. Confidential information should be separated from nonconfidential information in a separate packet or envelope. The company should submit an appropriate nonconfidential version that can be placed in the appropriate section of the public portion of the application to provide continuity and a complete review.
- All requests for confidential information by outside parties shall be made in writing to the TCEQ executive director and shall specify the documents being sought.
- Company representatives may, upon presenting dated proof of affiliation and authorization, be given access to any files pertaining to that company. Identification cards shall be requested and, as a minimum, an officer of the company may be contacted to verify affiliation and authorization. No information deemed confidential shall be disclosed to anyone other than such authorized representatives of the involved companies or other agencies as provided by law.
- Questions regarding the type of information that may be treated as confidential should be addressed to the TCEQ Office of Legal and Regulatory Services and discussed prior to submittal of the permit application/request.
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