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Mar 03 2017

EPA Reducing Burdens – Why Not TCEQ?

Houston – (March 3, 2017)

What if TCEQ committed to reducing regulatory burdens like the Federal government is doing?

President Trump signed an Executive Order requiring two regulations removed for every regulation added.  President Trump has also committed to “cut regulations by 75%.”  What if TCEQ committed to reducing regulatory burdens like the Federal government is doing?

“TCEQ requirements are more burdensome than EPA requirements in many ways since TCEQ takes the Federal requirements and then adds even more onto them,” said Jed Anderson, a principal attorney with the AL Law Group.

TCEQ requirements are more burdensome than EPA requirements. Jed Anderson

Most of the nation is focused on needed regulatory improvements at the Federal level, but few realize the similar and corresponding opportunities to reduce the size and complexity of requirements on the State side.

The number of  Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) rule records for example has grown by over 25% from 1999 to 2016.  Although much of these rules are in response to Federal mandates—not all fingers can be pointed at the Federal government for the resulting size and complexity of State regulation.  Moreover, outside of the formal rulemaking process, Special Conditions in permits have grown that impose additional requirements on industry.  “The size and complexity of these Special Conditions have grown significantly over the past 10 years in my experience”.  “Special Conditions just aren’t as special anymore.”  According to Anderson, it’s been easier for these requirements to become lengthier and more complex in part because these requirements do not go through notice-and-comment rulemaking and are put into place when industry is in the more vulnerable position of needing their permits.

The Solution

“The solution really is simplicity”, said Anderson.  “Similar to the Federal government looking for ways to reduce regulatory burdens, Texas should also be looking for corresponding ways to simplify and reduce regulatory burdens in ways that improve environmental and economic performance.”  “Special Conditions for example are necessary under the current system, but they can be simplified.”  “If I were a TCEQ Commissioner I would set a goal similar to that of the Federal government to substantially simplify and reduce regulatory burdens to Texas citizens and businesses.”  “Why not for example set a goal to try to remove two Special Condition requirements for every Special Condition requirement added–or review rules to see if 75%, 50%, or even 5% could be removed–or if they are too complicated, if there are redundancies, if they need to be updated–or if new technologies could be utilized to further reduce compliance burdens, lower costs, and improve environmental performance.”

In addition to Federal and State compliance simplification, businesses can be auditing their own programs for simplification opportunities.  “Not only is over-complexity occurring at the Federal and State level, but also at the level where these requirements are being interpreted and implemented by industry.”  “My firm has created a proprietary audit tool to help companies identify these situations, save money, and improve environmental performance.”

According to Anderson, few people realize the environmental damage caused by regulatory complexity.  “It’s hard to comply with the law when you have to comply with thousands of them sometimes and some of them are so complicated that the last EPA Administrator said you had to be a neuroscientist to figure them out.”

“There are multiple win-win opportunities to substantially reduce compliance costs while improving environmental performance.”

Anderson concluded, “We must simplify our environmental management systems—not just at the Federal level—but also at the State level and individual facility level.  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.”

Call The AL Law Group, PLLC.

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