September 29, 2020

Volume X, Number 273

September 28, 2020

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TCEQ Issues Guidance for Submitting Enforcement Discretion Requests During COVID-19 Pandemic

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) yesterday issued guidance (below) for submitting enforcement discretion requests during the COVID-19 pandemic.  In this guidance, Ramiro Garcia, TCEQ’s Deputy Director of the Office of Compliance & Enforcement (OCE), encourages all regulated entities “to take all available actions necessary to ensure compliance with environmental regulations and permit requirements to protect the health and safety of Texans and the environment.” The guidance indicates that if, despite such efforts, regulated entities are concerned about compliance due to a reduced workforce, they may submit enforcement discretion requests to TCEQ if noncompliance is unavoidable directly due to impact from the coronavirus. 

TCEQ invited affected regulated entities to email both and with specific information related to enforcement discretion requests. “The email should at a minimum include the following:

  • Concise statement supporting request for enforcement discretion

  • Anticipated duration of need for enforcement discretion

  • Citation of rule / permit provision for which enforcement discretion is requested

Regulated entities must maintain records adequate to document activities related to the noncompliance under enforcement discretion, including details of the regulated entity’s best efforts to comply.”

The TCEQ guidance indicates that staff monitoring the OCE email box will ensure the requests are expeditiously addressed, with a goal of responding within 24 to 48 hours of receiving the request.

© 2020 Beveridge & Diamond PC National Law Review, Volume X, Number 79


About this Author

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...

Karen M. Hansen Water Regulation Attorney Beveridge & Diamond Austin, TX

Karen Hanson’s practice focuses on the Clean Water Act and state programs for regulating and permitting water discharges and water supply/use, and on environmental, health, and safety audit review and implementation. 

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. Karen 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-year, complex negotiation of a consent decree for the San Antonio Water System, which was targeted for sewer overflow reductions under EPA's national "wet weather" enforcement initiative. Karen advises clients on business strategies related to increasing water scarcity and counsels clients on emerging trends in water quality programs, including initiatives such as watershed-based permitting, TMDLs, trading and allocation, and land-based impacts on coastal and ocean resources. She also has extensive experience assisting clients with conducting compliance audits and managing related disclosures, and with developing and implementing management systems for environmental compliance.

Karen also has extensive experience assisting multinational companies manage their global EHS issue portfolios. She helps clients strategically plan and manage both comprehensive and targeted EHS compliance audits, and related federal and state disclosure and corrective action strategies. Karen also has helped companies develop and implement management systems for environmental compliance, sometimes in the context of resolving a major enforcement action. Karen also teams with white collar lawyers to conduct internal investigations and assist in defending civil and criminal investigations. 

In addition to serving as a frequent speaker, writer, and planner for a variety of environmental law and policy programs, Karen has served in elected and appointed roles on numerous state bar and American Bar Association committees and task forces. Karen served on the firm's Management Committee and as the inaugural Chair of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee, and she Co-Chairs the Water Law Practice.

Laura L. LaValle Clean Air Act Attorney Beveridge & Diamond Austin, TX
Office Managing Principal

Laura's practice has focused on Clean Air Act matters for over 20 years.

Laura'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, oil and gas pipelines and terminal facilities, alternative/renewable energy operations including solar energy projects, landfills and waste combustors, steel manufacturing facilities, mining operations, and other facility types regarding federal and state permitting and compliance...

Bryan J. Moore Environmental Permitting Attorney Beveridge & Diamond Austin, TX

Bryan helps industrial, commercial, and oil and gas industry clients navigate and resolve contested environmental permitting proceedings, compliance audits, enforcement actions, and litigation so they can construct, operate, and expand their facilities. 

Whether in the substantive area of waste, water, or air regulation, Bryan provides comprehensive representation and strategic counseling from the agency rulemaking and permitting process to the administrative hearing and, ultimately, before the court to which an appeal may be taken.  Bryan...

Michael F. Vitris Environmental Litigation Attorney Beveridge & Diamond Austin, TX

Michael F. Vitris partners with clients to efficiently resolve complex civil and criminal environmental litigation.

He is an environmental litigator in the Austin office of Beveridge & Diamond, with a national practice defending companies in a wide variety of matters including environmental and mass torts, class actions, and federal citizen suits under the major environmental statutes. 

Mr. Vitris also leverages his past experience as an environmental attorney with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to help clients prevent environmental violations or favorably...