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TITLE V - A TOOL FOR CLEANING TEXAS AIR

February 8, 2001

For more information contact Kelly Haragan at Public Citizen, (512) 477-1155 or kellyharagan@citizen.org

WHAT IS TITLE V? Title V is a section of the Clean Air Act. It protects citizens' right to know about air pollution in their communities by requiring polluters to:

  1. monitor emissions,
  2. report emissions and any violations, and
  3. implement compliance plans to correct any violations.

HOW CAN TITLE V ENSURE THAT FACILITIES ARE COMPLYING WITH THE LAW? Title V requires all large sources of air pollution and many smaller sources of hazardous air pollutants to obtain a federal permit. These permits must list every requirement applicable to the facility and must include:

  • Monitoring. Each facility's permit must include regular "monitoring activities" such as stack tests and inspections. The monitoring must provide the public with a reasonable assurance that the facility is complying with all legal requirements. Monitoring results must be reported to the TNRCC at least once very six months and must be available to the public.
  • Compliance Certifications. Every 12 months, an official at each facility must sign a statement certifying whether the facility is in compliance with its permit. The official may face a fine - or even criminal charges - if he or she signs a false compliance certification. These certifications must be available to the public.
  • Compliance Plans. If a facility is out of compliance with any requirement at the time it applies for a Title V permit, a compliance plan must be included in its Title V permit. The compliance plan must describe how and by what deadlines, the facility will come into compliance with that requirement.
  • Credible Evidence. Title V provides that any "credible evidence" may be used to demonstrate that a facility is out of compliance with its permit. This means that citizens should be able to use reliable evidence that they have gathered to prove that a facility is violating its requirements.

TEXAS TITLE V PROGRAM. The EPA sets minimum standards for the Title V permitting programs. In individual states, like Texas, are then allowed to administer their own Title V programs, as long as their programs comply with EPA's minimum standards. Unfortunately, Texas Title V program, falls far short of the goals of Title V and EPA's standards.

  • Right to Know About Polluters: Title V is supposed to provide the public with information about the pollution being emitted by and the requirements applicable to every Title V facility, but TNRCC rules only require public notice of Title V applications be published once in the legal section of one newspaper. As a result, the public often does not know when facilities in their communities are applying for Title V permits.
  • Right to Know About Violations: Title V requires facilities to "promptly" report violations. TNRCC's rules, however, allow facilities to wait for up to six months before reporting violations. The public has a right to know about violations as soon as possible, and at least within 48 hours. In addition, Title V requires facilities applying for a permit to submit a certification that they are in compliance with all applicable requirements. TNRCC's rules allow facilities to evade this requirement.
    Title V also requires facilities to perform monitoring sufficient to ensure that they are complying with all air pollution control requirements. TNRCC often fails to include these monitoring requirements in the permits it issues.
  • Right to Use Credible Evidence: Title V provides that any credible evidence may be used to demonstrate that a facility is violating air pollution requirements. The TNRCC, however, refuses to consider citizen gathered evidence, no matter how credible, in investigating noncompliance. TNRCC's Title V rules make this problem even worse by including provisions in Title V permits that narrowly limit the types of evidence that may be used to show violations.
  • Loopholes: TNRCC's rules continue to allow facilities to exceed their air pollution limits without facing any consequences through grandfathering, upsets and the audit privilege laws. These loopholes, together with TNRCC's complete failure to investigate whether facilities claiming to qualify for these exemptions really qualify, allow huge facilities to repeatedly emit pollutants far in excess of their permit limits without any threat of enforcement.

WHAT CAN I DO?

  1. Send a comment letter to TNRCC demanding better Title V rules. Comments are due no later than 5 pm on February 26, 2001. Sign onto the letter on this site.
  2. Attend TNRCC's public meeting on its Title V rules. TNRCC will hold a meeting to listen to public comments on its proposed Title V rules on February 20, 2001 at the TNRCC in Austin at 2 pm. (12100 Park 35 Circle, Austin Texas, Building F, Room 2210).
  3. Send an email request Title V training. EPA provides training sessions for communities interested in learning more about Title V. These trainings teach citizens to review Title V permits and to monitor facilities' compliance. You can request that EPA hold a training in your community by sending an email to stanton.marya@epa.gov.
  4. Participate in Title V permitting. Citizens can participate in ensuring that stringent Title V permits are issues for facilities in their communities. In addition to the training mentioned above, there is a booklet entitled "The Proof is in the Permit" which contains detailed instructions on reviewing Title V permits. This booklet is available at www.epa.gov/oar/oaqps/partic/proof.html.
  5. Track facilities' compliance. If a facility you are concerned about already has a Title V permit, you can track that facility's compliance by requesting copies of monitoring, reporting and compliance certification documents for that facility from the TNRCC.

For more information contact Kelly Haragan at Public Citizen, (512) 477-1155 or kellyharagan@citizen.org

 

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