On October 11, EPA approved revisions to the Texas permitting program for major air pollution sources under the Clean Air Act’s New Source Review (NSR) program. According to EPA, changes submitted by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), increase regulatory certainty and efficiency while ensuring public health and the environment are protected. The revised plan provides industry with operating flexibility by establishing site-wide emission caps known as “Plant-wide Applicability Limits,” or PALS, for existing sources. These PALS require continuous monitoring for each of the units included in the cap.
According to EPA, this final approval of the state’s revised plan enhances the clarity and enforceability of state issued permits and also provides industry with flexibility to meet Clean Air Act requirements, while ensuring environmental protection. The adopted rules are fully consistent with federal requirements and consistent with NSR reform rules approved by EPA for other states in the country.
Congress established NSR permitting program as part of the 1977 Clean Air Act Amendments. NSR is a preconstruction permitting program that protects air quality while allowing for industrial growth. In Texas, NSR permits are legal documents issued by the TCEQ that facility owners/operators must abide by. The permit specifies what construction is allowed, what emission limits must be met, and often how the emissions source must be operated.