EPA approves new commission for Texas NPDES program

Jan. 19, 2021

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced that it is approving Texas’ request to administer the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program for discharges from produced water, hydrostatic test water and gas plant effluent or oil and gas discharges, within the state of Texas. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) will take over responsibility of permitting authority for the discharges of oil and gas ‎activities, pipelines and natural gas processing plants that formerly were under Railroad Commission of ‎Texas jurisdiction.

“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 Administrator 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.”

“TCEQ looks forward to working on permits pursuant to this program delegation,” said Commissioner Emily Lindley. “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.”

EPA and TCEQ both agree that states are best equipped to administer their environmental programs. On June 14, 2019, Governor Greg Abbott directed TCEQ to seek NPDES program authority by signing Texas House Bill 2771. The Governor also ordered the transfer of 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 of Texas 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 sufficient to meet the Act’s requirements.

More about information the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System https://www.epa.gov/npdes

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