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TCEQ Air Quality 101 Blog Series – Public Notice Requirements for Air Quality Permits

Posted: May 2nd, 2018

Authors: Frank D. 

As the bluebonnets sprout up with the dawning of springtime, it’s also time to do some spring cleaning.  With that, together let’s dust off the cobwebs and review the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s (TCEQ’s) public notification requirements as well as some recent rule updates as well.  At first glance, what may seem like trivial activities, such as contacting newspapers, or submitting proof of publication documentation to TCEQ’s Office of the Chief Clerk, can end up delaying the timeline for a permit approval.  For this installment of our TCEQ Air Quality 101 Blog Series, we provide a brief overview of public notice requirements and updates, while sprinkling in tips that are geared towards saving time and money.


Here is a brief overview of the public notice requirements.  The public notice obligations for New Source Review (NSR) permits are identified in 30 TAC Chapters 39 and 116, while the operating permit public notice requirements are identified in 30 TAC Chapter 122.  Facilities and sources classified as de minimis are not required to obtain an air authorization through the permitting process, and therefore, do not have public notice requirements.  Permit by rule (PBR) authorizations also do not have public notice obligations.

Public Notice Requirements

While the public notice process is relatively straightforward, it requires quite a bit of organization and adherence to strict deadlines to satisfy all the requirements.  For example, consider the steps associated with the submission of an initial minor NSR Permit Application.  When TCEQ determines that an application is administratively complete, a Notice of Receipt of Application and Intent to Obtain Permit (NORI) is issued.  The NORI contains step-by-step instructions that assist applicants in demonstrating compliance with the appropriate first and second public notice requirements.  Some of these steps are discussed below along with our learned efficiencies from prior experience. 

  • Newspaper Publication

    • At the permittee’s expense, the NORI must be published in a newspaper that is of general circulation in the municipality where the facility will be located.
      • Tip: When deciding the newspaper in which to publish, don’t forget to consider local or municipal publications.  Oftentimes, these newspapers tend to be a few hundred dollars cheaper than larger publications.  These savings can add up rather quickly.  In some cases, the local newspapers may have limited publication dates (e.g., Tuesdays only, monthly, etc.), so keep in mind when the notice can be published.
    • Most areas in Texas require the newspaper notice to be published in the language of the bilingual program of the closest elementary or middle school, so be sure you learn what the surrounding schools’ language requirements are.
      • Tip: While not mandatory (because TCEQ translates the notice, itself), it is always helpful to have a bilingual resource to proof the public notice before publication.
      • Tip: Remember that the second public notice is required to be published in the same newspaper as the first public notice.
  • Sign Posting (if applicable)

    • At the permittee’s expense, a sign (meeting the requirements of 30 TAC §39.604) must be placed at the place where the facility will be located and must be visible from the street.
    • Tip: If a bilingual newspaper notice is required, an additional sign in that language must also be posted.  Make sure both signs remain posted through the end of the comment period of the 2nd public notice.
  • Public Viewing Place

    • Place a copy of the application in a public viewing place in the county in which the facility will be located.
    • Tip: After Hurricane Harvey, some libraries temporarily had to close and are still undergoing renovations.  Check to make sure the public viewing place is still operational when the application package is scheduled to be sent to them.
  • Submit Hard Copies

    • Hard copies of the following items are required to be sent to TCEQ:
      • Affidavit(s) of publication,
      • Mail newspaper clippings (tear sheets), and
      • The public notice verification form.
    • Tip: Make electronic copies of each of the above-mentioned documents in case items are lost in the mail.  Be sure to send the courtesy copies to the appropriate TCEQ contacts and/or the appropriate local health officials, as required.

Keep in mind that once the NORI is published within a newspaper, the public notice process does not stop there.  While not required by permittees, it is good to know the steps TCEQ must take to meet the public notice requirements. 

  • TCEQ’s Responsibilities

    • TCEQ’s Chief Clerk must post public notices on the internet.
    • TCEQ’s Chief Clerk sends the NORIs to area officials, which can include, but are not limited to: state senators, representatives, local health authorities, the mayor, and county judge of the area where the facility will be located.
    • Tip: Before the second public notice can be issued, as required by Senate Bill 709, TCEQ must notify the state senator and state representative at least 30 days prior to issuance of a draft permit.  Keep this in mind when planning timetables for your project.

Now that some specifics of public notice obligations have been discussed, let’s review proposed updates to the public notice requirements.

Recent Public Notice Rule Updates

On February 4, 2018 via the Federal Register (FR), the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) proposed to approve four revisions to the Texas State Implementation Plan (SIP) regarding air quality public notice requirements.  The revisions to the SIP were submitted in December 2016 and February 2017.  The first round of revisions included the removal of certain outdated compliance history provisions from 30 TAC Chapter 116 as they were replaced by media neutral requirements in 30 TAC Chapter 60.  The second round of revisions included updates to obsolete public notice requirements applicable to air quality permit applications in 30 TAC Chapters 39 and 55.  In particular, for concrete batch plant standard permits, the public notice requirements were proposed to be consolidated into one 30-day public notice.

ALL4 continues to stay informed regarding the latest regulatory developments for air quality permitting in Texas.  Should you have questions on this blog do not hesitate to reach out to me using my phone number 281.937.7553 x302 or my email fdougherty@all4inc.com.  In addition, stay tuned for our next installment of our TCEQ Air Quality 101 Blog Series here.  Thanks for reading.


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