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Environmental Groups Request Probe Into Startup, Shutdown, Malfunction and Maintenance Events

In a letter submitted by the Environmental Integrity Project ("EIP"), environmental groups have asked the EPA Inspector General to undertake a probe into startup, shutdown, malfunction and maintenance emissions of 20 companies in Texas that occurred during the period of 2009 to 2012. The groups specifically request that the Inspector General review enforcement taken by USEPA and TCEQ regarding facilities reporting the largest and most frequent events, and, in particular, examine how the affirmative defense has been applied in those cases. (Letter at 2.)  

The groups allege that nearly 3,000 "upset" emission events during that time period from these companies has resulted in more than 49,000 tons of NOx, PM, SO2 and VOCs combined. Id. Of particular concern to environmental groups are alleged repeat emissions events, which the groups claim have received little agency oversight. Neither EPA nor TCEQ have yet responded. Both agencies, TCEQ in particular, may well point to the Texas New Source Review program pursuant to which maintenance, shutdown and startup ("MSS") emissions are permitted, and the increasingly limited circumstances in which the affirmative defense can be used for such emissions.

PDF of the EIP's letter

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About this Author

Edward Grauman, Environmental Lawyer, Beveridge & Diamond Law Firm

Edward M. Grauman’s practice focuses on high-stakes, complex commercial and environmental litigation at both the trial and appellate levels. He works with clients across a wide spectrum of industries, including chemicals, consumer products, financial services, high tech, insurance, media, oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, security services, and telecommunications. His experience across industries and subject-matter areas gives him a deep understanding of the business considerations involved in large-scale disputes and enables him to provide clients with sound strategic...

Karen Hansen, Environmental Lawyer, Beveridge & Diamond Law Firm

Karen M. Hansen’s environmental law practice focuses on the Clean Water Act and state programs for regulating and permitting water discharges and water supply/use.  She has extensive experience assisting industrial and municipal clients in preparing strategies for and pursuing water permits for ongoing operations, expansions and new operations, including permit challenges. Ms. Hansen also represents clients that must defend CWA and state water law enforcement actions, including claims pursued by governmental as well as third party entities. She recently led a multi...

Madeleine Boyer Environmental Attorney Beveridge Diamond

Maddie brings 25 years of experience providing strategic and solutions-oriented counseling and representation on a broad range of US and Latin American environmental, health and safety standards.

Her portfolio includes environmental regulatory counseling; audit oversight and support; supply chain and product stewardship advocacy and compliance; and high-stakes enforcement matters. Her domestic caseload currently includes air and waste matters before the US Department of Justice, the Office of the Attorney General of the State of Texas, the US Environmental...

Laura LaValle, Environmental Lawyer, Beveridge & Diamond Law Firm

Laura LaValle is the Managing Principal and a founder of Beveridge & Diamond’s Texas office, and is Co-Chair of the Firm’s Air Practice Group.  Her practice has focused on Clean Air Act matters for the past eighteen years.  Ms. LaValle’s air quality experience includes advising and representing entities on a broad range of permitting, compliance, and policy issues.  She has represented chemical manufacturing operations, electric utilities, petroleum refineries, municipal solid waste landfills, steel manufacturing facilities, mining operations, municipal waste combustors, trade...