After years of controversy, EPA has announced it is planning to approve Texas’ Clean Air Act State Implementation Plan (SIP). EPA had previously rejected Texas’ SIP, contending that is program was incompatible with federal requirements. In particular, Texas objected to EPA’s requirement that they install a permitting regime for Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. However, in a December 2013 submission Texas agreed to revise its Prevention of Significant Deterioration program to grant the state express authority to regulate GHG emissions. The state also clarified its definition of Best Available Control Technology (BACT) to confirm that it incorporated federal BACT standards.
The agreement between Texas and the EPA likely does not mean Texas will drop its legal challenges to the agency’s requirement that SIPs include GHG regulations. However, while those challenges are pending, the agreement allows the state greater latitude to control the permitting process. EPA’s previous refusal to approve Texas’ SIP had caused EPA to install a Federal Implementation Plan, which placed permitting decisions directly in the hands of EPA. This federal program applicable to Texas would be rescinded following the approval of the Texas SIP program.