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Mar 22 2017

TCEQ Commissioner Candidate Lines Up State Goals with Federal Goals for True Regulatory Relief

(Houston) – March 22, 2017

“EPA is reducing regulatory burdens.  TCEQ needs to do the same.”

Jed Anderson, who recently tossed his hat in the ring to become the next TCEQ Commissioner (see article), has unveiled four objectives he intends to pursue as the next TCEQ Commissioner.  The objectives line-up State goals with Federal goals on regulatory reform in order to provide true regulatory relief for the citizens and businesses of Texas.

TCEQ Regulatory Reduction

“If the Federal government can do better . . . we can do better”, said Anderson.  “In many ways State requirements are more burdensome than Federal requirements because TCEQ takes the Federal requirements and then adds even more onto them.”

The new TCEQ goals articulated by Anderson largely parallel commitments made by the Federal government to reduce burdens at the Federal level.  An Executive Order was signed by President Trump requiring two regulations removed for every one added.  President Trump also committed to reducing regulations by 75%.  Also, a proposed budget was submitted to Congress to reduce EPA spending by 31%.

“TCEQ can make similar and corresponding commitments to reduce regulatory burdens”, said Anderson.  “And this can be done in a manner that decreases authorization times and improves the environment.”

TCEQ rule records grew by over 25% from 1999 to 2016.  Permit conditions have also increased in size and complexity during this time period.  “There are numerous win-win opportunities to reduce regulatory complexity and improve environmental performance,” said Anderson.

The four new objectives Anderson committed to pursuing as the next Commissioner with the Governor’s approval are the following:  (1) a 25% cut in the TCEQ budget; (2) two regulatory requirements out for every one added; (3) a 50% cut in regulation; and (4) consolidated and simplified regulatory programs.

Budget Cut

Why a budget cut?  “You think better on an empty stomach,” said Anderson.  “Forces you to re-think about what you are doing and how you are trying to get there.”  “No one likes it, including myself, but can’t expect abundant fruit if you are afraid or unwilling to be pruned.”  “And fasting is important sometimes . . . even if there is plenty of food around.”  “Improves discipline.”

“2 out for 1 in”

President Trump’s Executive Order requires 2 regulations to be removed for every 1 regulation added.   Anderson said he would pursue this directive at the State level, but do so in terms of requirements rather than rules.

50% Cut in Regulation

President Trump committed to reducing regulation by 75%.  Anderson said he would commit to reducing regulation by 50%.  “It’s a bit more realistic in the near term”, he commented.

Consolidate and Simplify Regulatory Programs

Many environmental regulatory programs are now unnecessarily complicated and over-lap.  The last EPA Administrator during the Obama Administration said, “I hate that each sector has 17 to 20 rules that govern each piece of equipment and you’ve got to be a neuroscientist to figure it out”.  Consolidation of regulatory programs ultimately requires updates to the Clean Air Act and other environmental statutes.  But Anderson said that there are possibilities at the State level that could help lead to these updates–and provide regulatory relief and increased environmental performance in the interim.

Anderson said for example that TCEQ could potentially use the delegation it’s been granted for various Federal programs to consolidate these programs at the State level.  “EPA can’t expect to leave States holding the bag with all these Federal programs.”  “If EPA wants Texas to implement these programs–and do so more efficiently and with less dollars–they’ll need to help us consolidate and simplify them.”  Anderson said that new emissions measurement technologies have advanced that could be key to this consolidation.  TCEQ for example could potentially propose that several federal air programs would be satisfied via an alternative means of compliance that uses new real-time source monitoring technologies–rather than using “17 to 20 rules that govern each piece of equipment” as the last EPA Administrator stated.

“Regulatory simplification is needed”, said Anderson.  “Not just at the Federal level . . . but at the State level.”  “Texas can be a leader in this . . . and a leader in ushering a new era in environmental management in this nation.”

“It’s time for Texas to step-up.  And I’ve realized it’s time for me to step-up.”  “With simplicity will come better transparency.  With transparency will come better accountability.  The more simple things are, the more everyone understands them.  The more everyone understands them, the better they can comply with them.  It’s that simple.”

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