ALL4’s Texas 2022 Look Ahead
Posted: January 18th, 2022Authors: Meghan S. Aditya S. Andrew H.
Is it just us, or did time fly? While we ended 2021 with COVID still around us, it’s unclear if we are heading into 2022 or 2020-too… I am hoping for a year of lifting mandates and a return to pre-pandemic normalcy. This year is gearing up to be a pivotal year for air regulations, water quality standards, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and expanding interest in corporate Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) policy.
Are you feeling a little lost about what regulatory actions could impact the Texas Environment? Here are a few areas the Texas community can look forward to in 2022 as we progress into a more sustainable future:
- Future Ozone Nonattainment Reclassification in Texas
- Industrial Hazardous Waste (IHW) Management Fees Increase
- Texas Surface Water Quality Standards (TSWQS)
- Texas Legislation to Improve the Texas Power System
- Texas Adopts U.S. EPA’s Generator Improvement Rule for RCRA Hazardous Waste
- Texas AQ201
- What’s new with ALL4
Future Ozone Nonattainment Reclassification in Texas //
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) is required to sign a final action to reclassify the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) and Houston-Galveston-Brazoria (HGB) nonattainment areas for the 2008 ozone standard from serious to severe by Jan 20, 2022, and for the 2015 standard by Feb 3, 2022. After signature, U.S. EPA would then publish the final actions in the Federal Register and the effective dates would be set in that publication (typically 30 days later). U.S. EPA is expected to propose the reclassification actions in the Federal Register this Winter for public comment prior to taking final action, although U.S. EPA is taking longer to propose than anticipated. I don’t want to play the guessing game on what U.S. EPA is going to do, but I will keep you updated once U.S. EPA publishes their proposal for public comment.
The latest updates we have include:
- It was decided that the possible 1-year extension is not happening, so the DFW & HGB areas will be redesignated from serious to severe “this Winter.”
- State Implementation Plan (SIP) requirements will need to be put in place soon.
- Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) is currently looking at decreasing Mass Emissions Cap and Trade (MECT) program allowances by 25%.
So, no solid answer for the 2022 lookahead, but know that action will happen early this year.
Below are the current classifications for ozone nonattainment areas in Texas:
|Area||Ozone (2008)||Ozone (2015)|
Industrial Hazardous Waste (IHW) Management Fees Increase // Andrew Hebert
In line with 30 Texas Administrative Code (TAC) Section 335.325(j)(3), TCEQ approved new regulations in November 2021 that changed hazardous and Class 1 industrial waste management fees. IHW management fees are due to increase by 12% for any waste managed on or after March 1, 2022, and will be shown in the March monthly reports that are due by April 25, 2022.
The rate increase will be enacted on Class 1 industrial waste discarded at any MSW landfill and will have the increased fee of $6.72 in state and $8.40 for out of state waste.
Texas Surface Water Quality Standards (TSWQS) //
The TCEQ Water Quality Planning Division is in the process of preparing revisions to the TSWQS, and their timeline outlining when they intend to go before the commissioners to gain permission to formally propose the revisions to the public is in the process of being updated on TCEQ’s webpage. Below is the projected timeline they are preparing to post:
- Proposal agenda: February 23, 2022
- Public comment period: February 27, 2022 – April 18, 2022
- Public hearing: April 18, 2022
- Adoption agenda: August 2022
Backup material for the proposal agenda should be posted on TCEQ’s public website on February 4, 2022. They will send out a notification email to the stakeholder group once the backup materials are on the web. If you are not a member of their stakeholder listserv and would like to receive notifications regarding the TSWQS, please visit the Surface Water Quality Standards Advisory Work Group webpage and use the subscription link under the subheading “Participating in the SWQSAWG.”
Texas Legislation to Improve the Texas Power System // Aditya Shivkumar
More than 4.5 million households in Texas were left without electricity during the Winter Storm Uri in February 2021. While the state has seen several cold weather events in the past including the severe freeze in 2011, none of these events had as big of an impact as the 2021 ‘Texas freeze.’
What went wrong? On the face of it, the reason for the outage seems obvious – the demand for electricity was much higher than the available supply. In such situations, the grid operator – Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) orders load shedding to manage the grid stability. However, in the February 2021 storm, the demand spiked more than expected and the power plants (mainly natural gas powered) that are expected to serve as base load power could not supply electricity because of fuel shortages and freezing equipment, leading to cascading blackouts. Scarcity of electricity resulted in high electricity bills, stranded consumers, and several corporate bankruptcies. The event exposed the gaps in preparedness of the energy system and its susceptibility to infrequent external shocks.
In response to the inadequacies identified in the wake of Winter storm Uri and to improve system wide reliability, the lawmakers passed the Texas Senate Bills 2 and 3 aimed to improve the Texas energy system.
SENATE BILL 3
Bill 3 focuses on power generators and consumer awareness. The major provisions under Senate Bill 3 include:
- ‘Weatherization’ of electricity generation facilities and gas facilities and fines up to $1 million/day for non-compliance with certain regulations;
- An emergency pricing program to protect generators when the ‘high systemwide offer cap’ is in effect for >12 out of 24 hours;
- The Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) is required to set “winter resource capability qualifications” such as on-site fuel storage, dual-fuel capability, or firm fuel supply arrangements; and
- Notification to consumers about load-shedding procedures and outage alerts.
SENATE BILL 2
Bill 2 mainly focuses on the governance structure of ERCOT. The notable changes include:
- Reduce the number of Board of Directors from 16 to 11 with 8 fully independent members;
- The independent members will be selected based on executive level experience in a range of fields. Once selected, those members must be confirmed by the newly created Board Selection Committee; and
- All members must be Texas residents.
Will Texas face another ‘freeze’ in 2022? The new winter outlook by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center predicts a warmer and drier-than-normal winter in Central Texas. Chances are we may not see low temperatures as severe as February 2021. To handle severe weather events, the state has taken several measures, enacted policies, and issued guidelines to weatherize the energy infrastructure. Increased awareness should help recalibrate consumer expectations. Power companies should monitor the state’s policies closely to remain compliant with the evolving rules.
Texas Adopts ’s Generator Improvement Rule for RCRA Hazardous Waste // Meghan Skemp
On July 30, 2021, TCEQ’s proposed rule to revise state hazardous and industrial waste regulations, codified under 30 TAC Chapter 335 – Industrial Solid Waste and Municipal Hazardous Waste, was published in the Texas Register. This proposed rule adopts federal rule changes into state regulations and addresses inconsistencies within the state regulations. This proposed rule also includes stricter on-site management requirements from U.S. EPA’s Generator Improvements Rule and other significant updates to the RCRA hazardous waste management regulation including:
- U. S. EPA’s RCRA Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule,
- The Electronic Hazardous Waste Manifest (e-Manifest) Fee Rule,
- Definition of Solid Waste (DSW) and recycling provisions changes,
- New management standards for Pharmaceutical Hazardous Waste, and
- The addition of aerosol cans to the universal waste program.
The steps for final rule adoption include:
- The proposed rule was published in the Texas Register on July 7, 2021.
- The public comment period ended August 30, 2021.
- The commissioners met to discuss adoption of the proposed rule on January 12, 2022.
- Final publication in the Texas Register is estimated to be on or about January 28, 2022.
- The anticipated rulemaking effective date would be February 3, 2022.
We’d be remiss not to mention and invite you to attend the Texas Air Quality 201 (AQ201) training that provides a comprehensive and foundational background of the history of Texas air regulations and the various air regulatory programs. The program covers many of the 30 TAC air chapters including visible emissions, particulate matter, sulfur compounds, volatile organic compounds, and nitrogen compounds. Texas emissions inventory requirements are discussed as well as the Texas SIP. We dive into construction (Permit-by-Rule (PBR), Standard Permits, New Source Review (NSR) – case-by-case) and operating permit (Title V) requirements. Other components of permitting are also covered, ranging from monitoring to Best Available Control Technology (BACT) and Lowest Achievable Emission Rate (LAER). Modeling requirements in Texas (National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), state property line, and Modeling and Effects Review Applicability (MERA) are also detailed over two sessions. The program addresses topics that are encountered day to day by facility environmental personnel.
Texas AQ201 is training for those seeking to establish and further their understanding of air quality obligations in Texas that impact regulated facilities on a day-to-day basis. The topics covered by AQ201 will be encountered by environmental personnel in their real-world projects. Unlike other air quality training programs, AQ201 is delivered via twelve 30-minute webinar sessions, so no out-of-facility time is required for participation.
Numerous professional designations require continuing education/professional development. Upon request, ALL4 will present a certificate identifying ALL4’s Texas Air Quality 201 as 6 hours of continuing education/professional development.
WHAT’S NEW WITH ALL4?
ALL4 continued to grow throughout 2021 by closing on an office acquisition (in California) and adding staff in each of our Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington D.C. Offices as well as staff throughout the country that work remotely. With our growth and addition of talent, ALL4 now provides comprehensive Environmental, Health and Safety consulting services as well as expertise with our two new practice areas, Digital Solutions and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG).
Last year we mentioned our search for a new Houston Office Director. This role has been filled by Mike Jackson and his bio can be found here. (Don’t worry, former Houston Office Director, Kristin Gordon, isn’t going anywhere! In a new role, she’ll continue to focus directly on our clients nationally and the regulatory challenges they face.)
If you have questions on any of the topics above and/or know of talented EHS consulting professionals looking for a growth-oriented company to build a career at, please reach out: Mike Jackson (firstname.lastname@example.org or 281.201.1240) or Meghan Skemp (email@example.com or 281.937.7553×307).