TCEQ GETTING A STATUS UPDATE ON LAS BRISAS

Tomorrow  at 9:30 a.m. the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality will have a hearing at their headquarters off Interstate 35 and Parmer Lane in north Austin regarding a status-update on the air permit application for the controversial Las Brisas coke-fired coal plant proposed for Corpus Christi.  Commissioners sent the application back for further review last summer.

This update on the planned Las Brisas Energy Center will be held in advance of Monday’s hearing by the State Office of Administrative Hearings. The commission sent the application back to SOAH on June 30 to determine if the plant would be in compliance with federal clean air laws.

Las Brisas has asked the TCEQ to take unprecedented and extraordinary steps to issue an air pollution permit before the end of the year, in order to avoid greenhouse gas regulations that become effective early next year and tomorrow’s status update and Monday’s SOAH hearing should be watched carefully

When commissioners remanded the application in June, they cited problems involving technical readings of federal clean air laws, including whether petroleum coke should be in the same category as coal for the purpose of evaluating its impact on air quality.

Both the ALJ and the TCEQ staff had agreed that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has not specifically ruled on that question, but noted that the federal agency is expected to do so by next year.

The TCEQ’s decision to remand the application was based on more narrow concerns, including whether there would be an increase in particulate matter from offsite sources above levels expected under its most recent modeling.

The commission also instructed Las Brisas to be able to demonstrate that it could load the ashes from the burned petroleum coke into trucks for offsite disposal without contributing to additional emissions.

We’ll keep you updated on what is happening with this proposed plant as events unfold.

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