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TCEQ to Administer Clean Water Program, EPA announces

Friday, Jan. 15, 2021 - Texas to manage permitting for certain oil and gas discharges
ContactGary Rasp
After Hrs

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality will administer the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System program, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today.

TCEQ will now be the permitting authority for the discharges of oil and gas activities, pipelines and natural gas processing plants as part of the Clean Water Act. These responsibilities were previously under the jurisdiction of Railroad Commission of Texas.

“TCEQ looks forward to working on permits pursuant to this program delegation,” TCEQ Commissioner Emily Lindley said. “For the past year and a half, staff worked tirelessly to make sure our application was complete and accurate. This delegation will serve Texans well.”

The NPDES permit program, created in 1972 by the Clean Water Act, helps address water pollution by regulating point sources that discharge pollutants to waters of the United States.

“After a rigorous review process, we are pleased to announce that the state of Texas will take responsibility of this Clean Water Act program,” said EPA Regional Administer Ken McQueen. “This action will help Texas administer a process for the regulated community without unnecessary and duplicative permitting processes and ensure the best environmental and economic outcomes.”

EPA and TCEQ agree that states are best equipped to administer their environmental programs.

On June 14, 2019, Gov. Greg Abbott directed TCEQ to seek NPDES program authority by signing Texas House Bill 2771. The legislation transferred permitting authority for these discharges from the Railroad Commission of Texas to TCEQ upon approval of program authorization and then transfer of program authority from EPA to the TCEQ.

On Oct. 12, 2020, the governor requested NPDES permit program approval and submitted a Statement of Legal Authority, copies of applicable state statutes and regulations, and a Memorandum of Understanding to be approved by the EPA Regional Administrator, Ken McQueen and TCEQ Executive Director, Toby Baker.

On Jan. 11, 2020, the public comment period ended. After a thorough review and consideration of all public comments, EPA determined the state met the criteria of the Clean Water Act and other federal regulations for approval of the requested program authorization.

The Clean Water Act created the NPDES program under which the EPA may issue permits for the point source discharge of pollutants to waters of the United States. The Act requires the EPA to authorize a state to administer an equivalent state program upon the governor’s request, provided the state has the appropriate legal authority and a program to meet the Act’s requirements.

Learn more about the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination SystemExit the TCEQ and the implementation of HB 2771.