Environmental and legal articles
updated in real time.

Feb 06 2017

Should TCEQ cut regulation by 75%?

Most Americans want to talk about the growing size of Federal regulation, but few realize the growing size and complexity of State requirements.

Reducing Regulation Size2

President Trump recently signed an Executive Order requiring two regulations removed for every regulation added.  President Trump has also committed to “cut regulation by 75%.”  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 hTCEQ Complexityave grown significantly over the past 10 years in my experience”, said Jed Anderson, a lead attorney with the AL Law Group.  “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 ways to simplify and reduce regulatory burdens in ways that improve environmental and economic performance.”  “Special Conditions for example are necessary under the Special Conditionscurrent system, but they can be simplified.”

Additionally, businesses can be auditing their own programs for simplification opportunities.  “Not only is over-complexity occurring at the national 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.

Talk to Texas Environmental Lawyers Now!

Call AL Law Group (281) 852-8064

Texas Administrative Code: Title 30: Part 1

Get Texas Environmental News by Email

Texas Environmental News