4 The record articles

TCEQ’s Expedited Permitting Program Update

Posted: June 22nd, 2020

Authors: Frank D. 

ALL4 has been tracking Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s (TCEQ’s) Expedited Permitting Program since being rolled out in November 2014.  ALL4’s historic blog on the expedited permitting program is located here.  After some revisions to the program in 2019, we found it appropriate to provide an update to the blog, as well as share our experiences with the expedited permitting program, itself.

The 2019 developments to the program can be distilled down in the Senate Bill (SB) 698, which was signed by the Governor on June 2, 2019 with an effective date of September 1, 2019.  A summary of the SB 698 along with a summary of environmental highlights of the 86th Texas Legislative Session can be found here.  As a result of SB 698, Section 382.05155 (Expedited Processing of Application) of the Health and Safety Code was required to be updated.  Following the update to Section 382.05155, a rulemaking with an effective date of May 28, 2020 amended 30 TAC §101.601 to align TCEQ’s rules with the state law.  Therefore, 30 TAC §101.601 has been updated to reflect the statute’s language where a surcharge for an expedited application fee may be determined in amounts sufficient to cover expenses incurred by the expediting of permit applications (e.g., overtime, costs of full-time equivalent commission employees, contract labor, etc.).

See below for general details regarding TCEQ’s Expedited Air Permitting Program.  The list below has been updated from our historical details list first published in 2014 where needed with those updates marked with an underline.

  1. TCEQ Organization: TCEQ now has siloed the Expedite Team under the Mechanical/Coatings New Source Review Permits Section within the Air Permits Division.
  2. Application: Applicants must file a new “Expedited Permitting Request” form and cover letter with the application: “Form APD-EXP.” For companies that have pending applications that wish to take part in the expedited program, Form APD-EXP and a cover letter, should be submitted to the Air Permits Initial Review Team (APIRT). As a general reminder, be sure to update the Materials tab on the PI-1 Form to reference the associated Form ADP-EXP and other forms associated with expediting the application.
  3. ePermits: Applicants must use TCEQ’s ePermits for permits by rule (PBRs) and standard permits that are not subject to public notice. While not required, TCEQ encourages other permit applications to also use the ePermitting mechanism.  With the application submittal, Form APD-APS is required to be submitted to TCEQ’s cashiers’ s office along with the payment.  Confidential information can now be submitted through ePermits.  Confidential information is to be separated from the rest of the application materials and marked as Confidential within the State of Texas Environmental Electronic Reporting System (STEERS).
  4. Acceptance/Denial: TCEQ will accept or deny the expedited request and will notify the entity via email. For any project that is denied, the surcharge amount will be returned to the permitting party.
  5. Surcharge: Initial surcharges range from a flat rate non-refundable $500 for PBRs and Standard Permits (not requiring public notice) to $20,000 for Federal New Source Review (NSR) Permits – PSD including greenhouse gases (GHGs), Nonattainment NSR, Plantwide Applicability Limits (PAL).  Standard Permits and Title V General Operating Permits (GOP) are $3,000, while Title V Site Operating Permit (SOP) and case by case NSR permits are $10,000.  [Note: there is no additional fee for an NSR case-by-case permit, which accompanies a Federal NSR Permit; only the Federal NSR permit surcharge applies.]
  6. Refunds: TCEQ will issue refunds for projects with a remaining surcharge balance amount of $450 or more.  No refunds will be issued for PBRs and standard permits with no public notice.  Conversely, TCEQ will notify the applicant prior to the initial surcharge amount being depleted.  The applicant can choose to provide additional funding or if the applicant elects not to provide additional funding to continue with the expedited process, the application will revert to a non-expedited project and will be reviewed according to standard agency timeframes and may be assigned a different reviewer.
  7. Timing: TCEQ qualifies the time to complete the air permit as dependent on many factors:  APD workload, staff availability, application complexity, public participation, application completeness and thoroughness (i.e., sufficient administrative and technical detail).  No specific timing has been provided by TCEQ to date; however, TCEQ identifies a lag of applicant responsiveness and technical or administrative deficiencies common reasons why projects can be delayed.
  8. Recommendations: TCEQ suggests (and ALL4 agrees) several actions to speed up the process.  Hold a pre-application meeting to discuss the project, regulatory applicability including beset available control technology (BACT), air dispersion modeling, project timing, etc.

ALL4 has experience working through TCEQ’s expedited permitting process.  Throughout the years, we have guided and advised our clients on their projects, starting from the initial preapplication meeting through the end of the second public notice to final permit issuance.  Being timely in responding to TCEQ inquiries on the application, as well as delivering a comprehensive application that addresses anticipated TCEQ questions, all increase the efficiency of a permit review, ultimately decreasing the time until permit issuance.  While TCEQ remains reluctant to identify specific timelines associated with expedited permits, following the advice and approach discussed above, ALL4 has permitted a client’s greenfield project with TCEQ in approximately five months.

TCEQ’s official Implementation of the Expedited Permitting Program can be found on Air Permit Reviewer Reference Guide (i.e., APDG) 6258v7, located here, as revised in June 2019.  If you have further questions about the expedited Permitting Program, please reach out to me, Frank Dougherty at fdougherty@all4inc.com or 281-937-7553×302.

 

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