Commissioners' Work Session
Thursday, June 18, 1998
Room 201S, Building E, Park 35, Austin
This meeting is a work session for discussion between commissioners and staff. No public testimony or comment will be accepted except by invitation of the commission.
- Consideration of issues related to the CARE Program, including comments received during public hearings and staff recommendations. Jeff Saitas, Terri Seales, and David Schanbacher (Office of Air Quality) presented this item. The commission provided the following direction on the questions presented by staff:
- Question 1 - Staff Option 2 was approved which would require Best Available Retrofit Technology (BART) for participating grandfathered facilities.
- Question 2 - Staff Option 1 was approved which would establish a two-track process for public participation for entrants into the program. Legislative action will be required.
- Question 3 - Staff Option 1 was approved which would integrate CARE permits into the existing permit process and renewal cycle.
- Question 4 - Staff Options 2, 3, and 4 were approved which would allow a fee to be assessed for a CARE permit but would provide flexibility to modify, reduce, or eliminate the fee based on emission control levels and early application. Staff was also asked to examine the minimum fee for small business recommended at $450. Legislative action will be required.
- Question 5 - Staff Option 1 was approved which would provide a streamlined health effects review based on the level of control technology, location, use of monitoring technology, or a qualitative review. The commission may require special permit conditions if facility has a poor compliance history having the potential to affect public health.
- Question 6 - Staff Option 1 was approved which would provide a limited amnesty period for CARE participants. The commission directed staff to ensure that training and awareness of requirements is increased to facilitate enforcement at the end of the amnesty period.
- Question 7 - Staff Option 3 was approved which would establish a system of multiple plant caps for emissions of pollutants with regional impacts. While no increased emissions would be allowed anywhere, staff was directed to set up a process for one-way trading of toxic emission reductions to ensure that reductions take place where they can do the most good, such as more populated areas rather than remote locations.
- Question 8 - Staff Option 1 was approved which would raise the emissions fee cap for grandfathered facilities over a two-year period. The commission directed staff to work out the details.
- Question 9 - Staff Option 1 was approved which would propose to authorize political subdivisions in nonattainment to grant tax abatements for reductions from grandfathered facilities. Legislative action would be required. The commission also directed staff to avoid the appearance that the commission was directing local governments in any way.
- Question 10 - Staff Option 4 was approved which would allow special compliance provisions to be included in CARE permits issued to companies with poor compliance histories.
The commission considered the CARE report to be final with the changes discussed at this CWS and directed staff to provide information to the Legislature regarding which recommendations would require statutory changes and what those changes might be. The commission also asked staff to return to another CWS once the grandfathered facility inventory has been completed in order to consider the goals for the program. Staff should proceed with the preliminary development of rulemaking but not to proceed with proposals until following the legislative session.
- Consideration of issues related to the drought conditions. John Hofmann (Commissioner Baker’s Executive Assistant), Steve Walden (Water Utilities Division), Don Neal (Water Quantity Division), and Tracy Callen (Field Operations) presented this item. The commission expressed concern regarding the critical situation in the Lower Rio Grande Valley where drought conditions are most severe. They directed staff to contact and gather information on a company in Florida to determine the means and costs of removing hydrilla (aquatic plant) from the Rio Grande that is restricting the flow of water to downstream users. Staff will work with other affected state agencies, the International Border Water Commission (IBWC), and local authorities to address this and other actions necessary to ensure water is provided for critical needs. The commission also directed staff to work with the Texas Water Development Board and the State Emergency Management Office to develop a plan by Wednesday (6/24/98) to provide water to threatened communities. Staff was instructed to move forward with implementation of the WaterSmart program and to expedite permits for new weather modification programs.
- Consideration of issues related to the agency’s Strategic Plan, Legislative Appropriations Request, operating budget, and performance partnership grants. Glenn Shankle (Office of Administrative Services), Machelle Pharr (Budget and Planning Division), and Jeff Grymkoski (Strategic Planning and Appropriations) presented this item. The commission approved the Legislative Appropriations Request priority allocation table. No action was taken on other items discussed.
- Consideration of the agency's implementation of legislation enacted by the 75th Texas Legislature including the agency's efforts to work with the Interim Legislative Committees. The commission may also meet in closed meeting to receive legal advice regarding these matters, or any of the above matters, as authorized by Section 551.071 of the Open Meetings Act, Chapter 551 of the Government Code. Any commission action, decision, or vote on these matters will be made in open meeting in accordance with Section 551.102 of the Open Meetings Act, Chapter 551 of the Government Code. No action taken.
- Planning for the next Commissioners’ Work Session. John Hofmann and Dan Eden (Commissioners’ Executive Assistants) presented this item. Regarding the July 16, 1998 CWS, the biosolids item was deferred until August, and discussions on the Edwards Aquifer rule and the drought were added. Regarding the July 30, 1998 CWS, water quality issues and municipal solid waste issues were added.