The Alternative Fueling Facilities Programfunds up to 50 percent of the eligible costs or $500,000 (whichever is less) for fueling facilities that provide compressed or liquefied natural gas, biodiesel, propane, hydrogen, electricity, or fuels containing at least 85 percent methanol by volume. Eligible projects must be located in the state’s designated nonattainment areas. The first application period ran from May through July 2012, with awards planned for early fiscal 2013. This program was allocated $2.3 million for the biennium.
Back to the top
SB 527 New Air Monitoring Program Approved for the Regions of Dallas-Fort Worth and Abilene
With the continuing natural gas activities in the North Texas area—specifically in the Barnett Shale geological area, the Legislature moved to augment the agency’s air monitoring activities in the Dallas–Fort Worth area (TCEQ Region 4) and the Abilene area (TCEQ Region 3).
This Senate bill allocated up to $7 million annually for 2012 and 2013, and up to $3 million in 2014 and each subsequent fiscal year to fund this new regional air monitoring program. The funding comes from the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan.
The new program is being implemented under the TCEQ’s oversight, with the agency providing direction on the number, types, locations, and operations of the new monitors, as well as data validation practices.
SB 527 directed that the program be executed by a regional nonprofit entity, which is located in North Texas and has representation from counties, municipalities, higher education institutions, and private sector interests across the area.
In consultation with the North Central Texas Council of Governments, the TCEQ reviewed a number of entities to determine which could meet the eligibility requirements. The North Texas Commission (NTC) was approved for the project in September 2011.
NTC assembled a monitoring committee comprised of local municipalities, higher education, and private sector interests in the region to aid in development of the monitoring program. NTC then hosted monitoring committee meetings from March to June 2012 to formulate a monitoring proposal for the TCEQ to review and approve.
In the fall of 2012, the first SB 527 monitoring site was installed on the campus of the University of Texas at Arlington. Installation of additional air monitoring sites throughout the DFW and Abilene regions was due to begin by the end of 2012, with the entire network scheduled for completion by the summer of 2013.
SB 1134 Oil and Gas Permitting Requirements
The TCEQ is now prohibited from promulgating new authorizations for the oil and gas industry, or amending existing ones, without performing a regulatory impact analysis in accordance with the Government Code. The agency also must evaluate relevant air monitoring data, develop correlated air quality modeling to determine whether emissions limits or emissions-related requirements are necessary, and consider whether the requirements should be imposed on a particular geographic region of the state.
In addition, SB 1134 moved the deadline for filing applications seeking to authorize maintenance, startup, and shutdown activities from January 2012 to January 2014.
The agency adopted one rulemaking project on Oct. 31, 2012 that was partially affected by SB 1134. Specifically, the commission adopted the following revisions to the Barnett Shale permit by rule: removed eight counties from the Barnett Shale requirements, and extended the date for notifying the TCEQ about the location of wells and other facilities, as well as their methods of authorization, from Jan. 1, 2013, to Jan. 5, 2015.
Only portions of SB 1134 were triggered by this rulemaking, because no new emissions-related requirements were adopted.
Back to the top
SBs 1605 and 1504 Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission
SB 1605 clarified that the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission (TLLRWDCC) is an independent entity and not a program, department, or other division of the TCEQ.
The TLLRWDCC is required to submit biennial reports to the Legislature, be represented in legal matters by the state attorney general, and be subject to audits by the state auditor. Furthermore, the TLLRWDCC is subject to the Sunset Act as if it were a state agency, except that it may not be abolished.
The bill also set the service of the eight TLLRWDCC commissioners (six from Texas and two from Vermont) as staggered six-year terms. The terms of two Texas commissioners expire September 1 of each odd-numbered year. Texas and Vermont are the two states that belong to the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact.
SB 1504 required the TCEQ, in coordination with the TLLRWDCC, to adopt rules establishing criteria and thresholds by which incidental commingling of waste from the Compact and waste from other sources at a commercial processing facility is reasonably limited. The bill also implemented a statutory prohibition on the acceptance of waste of international origin. The TCEQ rules took effect in June 2012.
SB 1504 further directed the TCEQ to conduct three legislative studies regarding the Compact waste disposal facility in West Texas, and submit them by Dec. 1, 2012. The topics are:
- Capacity. Examine the available volume and curie capacity of the Compact waste disposal facility for the disposal of state Compact waste and non-Compact waste.
- Financial assurance. Review the adequacy of the financial assurance for the low-level radioactive waste site.
- Surcharge revenue. Examine the assessment of surcharges for the disposal of non-Compact waste at the Compact waste disposal facility.
SB 1504 further required the TCEQ executive director to establish interim disposal rates for state Compact waste, which are only effective until the final rates are adopted by rule. It also provided for the importation of non-Compact waste at the low-level radioactive waste facility and established a 20 percent surcharge.
The Texas Health and Safety Code was amended to address the issue of timing, in case the Compact waste disposal fee schedule goes through a contested case hearing. The fee schedule must be established no later than one year after the State Office of Administrative Hearing (SOAH) assumes jurisdiction of a case. Otherwise, the low-level radioactive waste disposal facility must cease operations until the rates are adopted by rule.
In early 2012, the TCEQ filed and published the licensee’s Compact waste disposal rate application. Seven Texas generators requested that the application be referred to SOAH for a contested case hearing. SOAH assumed jurisdiction in June 2012, which triggered the one-year period for the fee schedule. The contested case hearing is planned for Feb. 20, 2013.
Back to the top
SB 329 TV Recycling
For several years, the TCEQ has helped consumers find free options to recycle their old computers and related equipment. SB 329 created a television-equipment recycling program that is separate from—and more extensive than—the computer recycling program. The new program requires TV manufacturers to offer consumers free collection, reuse, and recycling opportunities for television sets.
Under TCEQ rules, manufacturers must register with the agency each year, beginning Jan. 31, 2013. Manufacturers choosing not to participate in a Recycling Leadership Program will face additional annual requirements, including paying a fee and reporting the results of their collection and recycling efforts.
Participation in a Recycling Leadership Program will exempt manufacturers from some requirements. This program must submit annual information to the TCEQ about its TV collection and recycling plans, and create public education programs on the available options for the collection, reuse, and recycling of TVs.
Retailers in Texas are required to provide consumers written information on the proper and legal ways to recycle or dispose of television equipment. Beginning April 1, 2013, retailers may only sell televisions from manufacturers that are on the TCEQ’s list of manufacturers, which demonstrates they are authorized to sell TVs in Texas. The list will be available at www.TexasRecyclesTVs.org.
Recyclers must follow specific standards for management of collected television equipment and complete the TCEQ’s annual registration and reporting.
Back to the top
HB 571 Aggregate Production Operations
Aggregate production in Texas encompasses dirt, sand, and rock quarries and their processing plants. HB 571 created a program for registration and inspection of these operations.
Aggregate production operations are required to register with TCEQ each year and pay a fee. The initial registration period was held from Sept. 1 to Oct. 30, 2012.
The agency structured registration fees on four tiers, using the disturbed acreage as the basis for the each tier. The fees range from $200 to $900, with a 25 percent reduction when submitted electronically. Fees will be adjusted annually.
Also the TCEQ will conduct compliance inspections of each operations site once every three years. For entities that submitted a notice of audit for compliance during the initial registration period, routine inspections of the operation will not begin until Sept. 1, 2015.
SB 341 Bexar Metropolitan Water District
The TCEQ was directed to conduct an evaluation of the Bexar Metropolitan Water District (BexarMet). At the same time, the water district was required to hold an election to determine whether it should remain in place or be dissolved and merged with the San Antonio Water System (SAWS).
In November 2011, voters in BexarMet elected to dissolve the water district and merge with SAWS. After the Justice Department reviewed the election, SAWS began operating the water district in January 2012.
The TCEQ’s executive director executed a master assignment to transfer and assign all assets and liabilities to SAWS. After the transfer was formally acknowledged by SAWS, the TCEQ proceeded in May 2012 to dissolve the district.
The TCEQ’s evaluation, which began in mid-2011, was approved by the agency’s executive director in August 2012. SAWS will have five years to integrate all the BexarMet systems.
Back to the top