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Texas Environmental Update

The environmental practice of Bracewell & Giuliani LLP offers seamless, front-rank representation in local, state, national, and cross-border regulatory, enforcement, and litigation matters, as well as experienced counsel on the environmental aspects of transactions and operations across the country and around the world. We are dedicated to helping clients successfully navigate complex and costly environmental issues and to building longstanding client relationships founded on superior advice, integrity, and value. We are pleased to provide you with this issue of Bracewell's Texas Environmental Update, offering the latest news about permitting, enforcement, regulatory developments, and other matters of interest to the regulated community in Texas.


Agendas & Work Sessions

Commissioners' April 23, 2013 Meeting Agenda
TCEQ Web Site

Commissioners' April 10, 2013 Agenda Meeting Webcast

In the News:


Air Clearing After Asarco Demolition Kicks Up Fine Dust Particles
El Paso Times, April 16, 2013
"Fine dust particles in El Paso's airshed rose from good to moderate levels for two days following the demolitions of Asarco's two smokestacks, according to Texas Commission for Environmental Quality air monitoring data."


TCEQ Approves Fines Totaling $1,010,655
TCEQ Web Site, April 10, 2013
"The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality today approved penalties totaling $736,735 against 49 regulated entities for violations of state environmental regulations."

Regulatory Developments

What's New in TCEQ Rules
TCEQ Web Site, April 12, 2013


Mexico Water Release Called a 'Pittance'
San Antonio Express-News, April 8, 2013
"Water from Mexico is on the way, but apparently not enough to bring much relief to parched Rio Grande Valley communities."


Notice of Availability (NOA) of the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (EIS); Gulf of Mexico (GOM), Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), Western Planning Area (WPA) Lease Sale 233 and Central Planning Area (CPA) Lease Sale 231, Oil and Gas Lease Sales MMAA104000
78 Federal Register 21969, April 12, 2013


Final Rule, Oil and Gas and Sulphur Operations in the Outer Continental Shelf - Revisions to Safety and Environmental Management Systems
78 Federal Register 20423, April 5, 2013


EPA Issues Vapor Intrusion Guidance to Enhance Assessment, Mitigation Efforts
Bloomberg BNA, April 17, 2013
"The Environmental Protection Agency released for public comment April 16 a draft final version of its long-awaited vapor intrusion guidance to ensure that exposure assessment and mitigation actions are undertaken in a consistent manner."

EPA Delays Emissions Caps for New Power Plants
HeraldNet, April 13, 2013
"The Environmental Protection Agency needs more time and will not meet its one-year deadline to impose the first-ever greenhouse gas limits on new power plants."

Proposed Rule; Notice of Public Hearing: Oil and Natural Gas Sector: Reconsideration of Certain Provisions of New Source Performance Standards
78 Federal Register 22126, April 12, 2013

Request for Nominations of Candidates to the EPA's Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) and EPA's Science Advisory Board (SAB)
78 Federal Register 21946, April 12, 2013

Notice of Extension of Public Comment Period, State Implementation Plans: Response to Petition for Rulemaking; Findings of Substantial Inadequacy; and SIP Calls To Amend Provisions Applying to Excess Emissions During Periods of Startup, Shutdown, and Malfunction
78 Federal Register 20855, April 8, 2013

Notification of Public Meeting and a Public Teleconference of the Hydraulic Fracturing Research Advisory Panel
78 Federal Register 20637, April 5, 2013


Proposed Rule; Reopening of Comment Period; Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Listing as Endangered and Threatened and Designation of Critical Habitat for Texas Golden Gladecress and Neches River Rose-Mallow
78 Federal Register 22506, April 16, 2013


Extension of Comment Period, Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Effects of Oil and Gas Activities in the Arctic Ocean
78 Federal Register 21347, April 10, 2013


Final Rule, Hazardous Materials: Revision of Maximum and Minimum Civil Penalties
78 Federal Register 22798, April 17, 2013


ALEX MILLS: Railroad Commission Revs Up Debate
San Angelo Standard Times, April 6, 2013
"Every state agency in Texas must 'go under the legislative microscope' every 10 years."


Lawmakers to Hear Proposal on Greenhouse Gas Powers
Austin American-Statesman, April 17, 2013
"In an Alice-in-Wonderland twist, a conservative Texas lawmaker who says he is unconvinced greenhouse gases affect climate change, has authored a proposal that would give Texas more power to regulate such gases."

As Water Plan Legislation Gets Closer to Reality, Little Opposition Found
StateImpact Texas, April 16, 2013
"While there are different routes proposed to get there, one goal is clear this legislative session: lawmakers want to do something to address the state's water woes."

Nuke Bill Raises Opposition From Environmentalists
Fort Worth Star-Telegram, April 16, 2013
"LUBBOCK, Texas - The Texas Senate is preparing to vote on a bill that seeks to narrow the number of possible challenges - and challengers - to operations at a West Texas radioactive waste dump."

Bills Would Limit Local Governments' Ability to Pursue Environmental Claims
San Antonio Express-News, April 15, 2013
"The Texas attorney general would be able to settle environmental lawsuits filed by cities and counties without input or approval from local officials under a bill backed by business interests that is scheduled for a hearing in Austin on Tuesday."

Lewis Files Bill to Protect Buyers of Facilities Regulated by TCEQ
Odessa American, April 10, 2013
"AUSTIN Rep. Tryon D. Lewis (R-Odessa) introduced a bill Tuesday that would spare prospective buyers of facilities and operations regulated by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality from violations under the Texas Environmental, Health and Safety Audit Privilege Act."

Upriver, Downriver Interests Spar Over LCRA Bill
Austin American-Statesman, April 9, 2013
"Interests up and down the Colorado River weighed in Tuesday at a Capitol hearing on a proposal that would enshrine water cutoffs for rice farmers in future drought conditions." 


House Committee on Energy Resources

House Committee on Environmental Regulation

House Committee on Natural Resources

Senate Committee on Natural Resources


State, River Authority to Partner on Desalination Plant Study
Austin American-Statesman, April 15, 2013
"Tying endangered whooping cranes to state water demands, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson announced Monday that his office would partner with the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority to spend roughly $2 million to study the feasibility of a desalination plant by the Texas Gulf coast."

U.S. Officials Discuss Water Debt
The Brownsville Herald, April 10, 2013
"MERCEDES - Extreme frustration about Mexico's lag in providing water owed to drought-stricken Texas farmers, ranchers and cities was vented Wednesday at an International Boundary and Water Commission meeting."


Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990 - 2011
EPA Web Site, April 12, 2013
"This inventory adheres to both (1) a comprehensive and detailed set of methodologies for estimating sources and sinks of anthropogenic greenhouse gases, and (2) a common and consistent mechanism that enables Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to compare the relative contribution of different emission sources and greenhouse gases to climate change."

Chevron Richmond Refinery Fire, Interim Investigative Report, Draft for Public Comment
U.S. Chemical Safety Board Web Site, April 2013
"This interim investigation report contains detailed analyses of and makes recommendations to Chevron and regulatory bodies at the local, state, and federal level."

Clearing the Air: Reducing Upstream Greenhouse Gas Emissions from U.S. Natural Gas Systems
World Resources Institute Web Site, April 2013
"This paper seeks to clarify what is known about methane emissions from the natural gas sector, what progress has been made to reduce those emissions, and what more can be done."