Commissioners' Work Session (Open Meeting)
Friday, April 7, 2000
Room 201S, Building E, Park 35, Austin
- Consideration of issues relating to the NOX trading rules including the existing Emissions Banking & Trading Program (EBTP) and the possible creation of a mass emission Cap & Trade Program. John Steib, Dale Beebe-Farrow, and Matt Baker, Air Permits Division
presented this issue. Staff described various ways the Commission provides flexibility to the
NOx emission limitations by allowing industry to meet those requirements by purchasing
banked emission reduction credits. Offering recommendations which would provide more
flexibility to the more stringent NOx emission limitations that will become effective in the
nonattainment areas and East Texas Region, to improve and streamline the application process
for use of credits, and to address EPA concerns over the existing EBTP, staff relayed proposals
to the existing open market EBTP and asked several questions related to a Cap and Trade
Program. The Commission was in general agreement with the proposals to the existing EBTP
listed in Attachment A and commented that the baseline used for allocations should be the same
as used for the SIP. The following guidance was given related to questions on the creation of a
Cap and Trade Program:
- Discussion of issues to be voted upon at the Environmental Council of States Spring
meeting and other related matters. Susi Ferguson, OEPAA and Elaine Adams, OLS-Environmental Law presented this issue. Staff provided the Commissioners with a final agenda
for the ECOS Spring Meeting occurring April 10-12 and documents describing several
breakout committee sessions. There was no action taken on this item.
- Update and discussion of issues regarding agency's response to the drought. This issue was presented by Charles Maddox, Todd Chenoweth, and Nancy Baier, Water Permits.
Updating the "at risk" systems, Charles said the number increased by 5 to 79 systems at risk
since the last report. Referring to a Palmer Index chart, Todd showed that the area under
severe drought today is about double what it was in the same period in 1996. Nancy mentioned
that approval and funding for 6 FTEs to staff the Critical Assistance Team is complete and
staffing actions to fill those positions should begin next week. There was no action taken on
- Consideration of activities and comments associated with State Implementation Plans and update on the 8-hour ozone designation. Herb Williams, Policy and Regulations and Chuck Mueller, SIP Section, presented this issue. Referring to recent correspondence from Commissioner Marquez to EPA, concerning ozone designation and other related materials, staff was directed to proceed on a number of tasks:
- develop an analysis of the status of each potentially affected county concerning the exclusion criteria in the EPA's 8-hour guidance document as well as other significant
criteria such as voluntary emissions reductions,
- draft a letter from the Governor to EPA suggesting that: 1) EPA should not proceed until there is more certainty from the courts whether the eight hour standard will be upheld,
and 2) that TNRCC should advocate the Accelerated Attainment Agreement as a reasonable alternative for counties which might be designated nonattainment areas.
- draft a strawman proposal to accomplish the above and, after review and input by the Commissioners, implement a public input process which would result in a final
recommendation for Commission consideration in early June 2000.
- Consideration of legislative implementation affecting the TNRCC and other issues related to actions taken by the 76th Texas Legislature. 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. This issue was not discussed.
- Planning for the next Commissioners' Work Session. The next work session is scheduled for April 20. Issues identified for discussion are Enforcement Reports (OCE/ENF),
Legislative Appropriations Request (LAR) (OAS/CFO), in addition to the standing
issues. Issues for future sessions include proposed joint meeting with Department of
Public Safety on Inspection and Maintenance May or June, proposed 2001 Budget June
16, and LAR August 11. Subsequent to individual Commissioner briefings, discussion of
dockside emissions issues may occur on May 19. A special work session may be
scheduled early June for discussion of issues related to the 8-hour ozone designation.