With state regulators required to start issuing Clean Air Act permits next year for large stationary sources of greenhouse gas emissions, the Lone Star State will be the lone holdout, according to a report released today by an association of state and local air agencies.
The states are scrambling to align their own rules with U.S. EPA's new regulations, which are set to take effect on Jan. 2, 2011.
Thirty-six states have already gotten federal approval to begin issuing greenhouse gas permits. Of the remaining states, which have been required to explain their plans to EPA, Texas is the only one that won't revise its rules or accept a federal implementation plan, according to the analysis by the National Association of Clean Air Agencies (NACAA).
Air officials in seven of those 14 states say their rules will be changed by Jan. 2 or "very shortly thereafter," the report says. Another six states have told EPA they are willing to adopt the federal program, but some of them would like to issue the permits themselves.
The permits will require large facilities to install the best available control technology (BACT) for greenhouse gases. EPA still hasn't given the states guidance on those standards, and business groups have raised concerns that a delay in the federal approval of state permitting programs would hold up the pre-construction permits needed to move forward with projects.
Bill Becker, executive director of NACAA, said he doesn't anticipate many delays. Even if the states don't have programs in place for weeks or months after Jan. 2, there won't be many permit applications because businesses that expect to need a permit next year are rushing to submit their applications before the new greenhouse gas emissions rules take effect, he told reporters today.
"The rhetoric and the exaggerations that opponents of this program are spewing are getting out of hand," Becker said. "They would lead you to believe that state and local permitting programs will be paralyzed, that individual sources will not be able to obtain permits in a timely fashion, and that state and local authorities simply won't have authority to act on the large number of permit applications starting Jan. 2. That simply isn't the case."
"I'm not saying this is going to be a totally perfect implementation schedule over the first couple of months," Becker added, "but it will not be unlike any other major program that is being implemented for the first time."
Texas, which has filed several legal challenges to EPA's climate program, has refused to change its permitting program. EPA is moving too quickly and forcing states to comply with a "scheme that short-circuits the statutory process for regulating major stationary sources," the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality wrote in a letter to EPA earlier this month.
Click here to read the NACAA report.
Click here to read the letters from the 14 states.