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Polluters in Texas Change the Classification of Their Sites to Avoid Stricter Rules!


CheapNailsalonsnearmeIn a concerning trend, several Texas-based industrial developers have been reclassifying their large facilities as “minor” polluters to circumvent federal permitting requirements. This practice, as reported by environmental lawyers and investigated by Inside Climate News, indicates a systematic exploitation of legal distinctions between major and minor pollution sources, enabling companies to avoid stringent pollution standards.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has been criticized for allowing such practices, which undermine core provisions of federal environmental law. The case of the Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC) exemplifies this issue.

ITC managed to obtain multiple permits for volatile organic compound emissions, each strategically kept just under the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) major source threshold, thereby evading the more rigorous New Source Review process.

This pattern of splitting major facilities into several minor permits has raised concerns about the integrity of the state’s environmental regulatory framework. Legal experts have pointed out that by using tactics such as underestimating pollution levels, classifying emissions in unregulated categories, or applying retroactive amendments, companies can effectively sidestep critical environmental laws.

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Moreover, the EPA’s apparent reluctance to intervene in such cases, especially in Texas, has led to accusations of lax permitting at both state and federal levels. The leniency in permitting major industrial projects as minor sources has significant implications for air quality and public health, particularly in regions with already poor air quality, like Greater Houston.

Environmental advocates argue that this lenient approach to pollution control not only undermines federal environmental protections but also poses serious risks to communities living near these industrial sites. The TCEQ’s permitting process, criticized for its complexity and lack of transparency, has become a focal point of debate among environmentalists, legal experts, and policymakers.

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