What Happened: Air Quality Bills to Watch in the 86th Texas Legislative Session
Posted: August 19th, 2019Authors: Kristin G.
In April 2019, I shared two articles regarding the legislative process in Texas. The first was an overview of the legislative process related to air-quality related bills considered during the 86th Texas Legislative Session (January 8, 2019 to May 27, 2019) found here. The second was a more in-depth look at several bills with a distinct air-quality permitting timing implication relating to timing issues associated with air quality permitting found here. With the 86th Texas Legislative Session now in the rear-view mirror, let’s check-in and see what happened with these bills considering what are the effective dates and how they are being implemented.
Commencement of Construction
Commencement of Construction was addressed in Senate Bill 1501 (SB1501) and House Bill (HB2726). Specifically, commencement of construction of a project following the issuance of a draft permit for an amendment to an air quality permit. Section 382.004 of the Health and Safety Code would be amended to address “at risk” commencement of construction for permit amendment applications, where commencement of construction would be allowed for amendments upon issuance of a draft amended permit.
SB1501 was an identical bill to HB2726 and didn’t have any further relevant activity so we’ll focus on HB2726. HB2726 had good momentum in mid-April and it continued with the bill passing the House Committee, Senate Committee, and Senate, on May 7, 2019, May 16, 2019 and May 20, 2019, respectively. Several amendments were considered and implemented throughout the legislative process, one example is the exclusion of certain concrete batch plants. The Governor signed the bill on June 14, 2019. The bill becomes a law and is effective on January 1, 2020. ALL4 is tracking the development of the revisions and will provide updates as they become available.
The updates to Section 382.004 are illustrated in the figure below.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s (TCEQ’s) expedited permitting program was represented in several bills and covered (1) the current fiscal biennium and (2) post September 1, 2019. In my April 19, 2019 article, it was noted that SB500 had passed the Senate and the House and was with the Governor. The bill was signed June 6, 2019 and the portion of SB500 relating to expedited permitting was effective immediately, providing needed funding for the expedited permitting program through August 2019.
Looking at the expedited permitting program post September 1, 2019, several different bills centered on expanding the program to include full time equivalent (FTE) TCEQ staff and allowing TCEQ to fund the program entirely via collected surcharges were moving forward. Specifically, S698 passed the House on May 16, 2019 and was signed by the Governor on June 2, 2019. The effective date is September 1, 2019.
Each of these bills when implemented will serve the regulated public well by potentially streamlining the permitting timeline as well as allowing at risk commence construction for prescribed scenarios. ALL4 understands that TCEQ is in the process of forming an expedited air quality permitting team, including staff from TCEQ. Stay tuned for updates on how these bills improve turnaround time for air quality permitting in Texas. Time will tell what the results will be. Interested in other key bills involving TCEQ? Check out their recent summary. (https://www.tceq.texas.gov/news/tceqnews/features/86th-texas-legislative-session-is-complete ) Have questions on these or other bills from the 86th Texas Legislative Session? Reach out to Houston Office Director, Kristin Gordon, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 281.937.7553 x301.