Permit Authorizations

The Law Office of C. William Smalling routinely handles a variety of legal issues that arise in permit proceedings, and devises strategies to help clients overcome regulatory hurdles. We are keenly aware that the evaluation of the legal structure of a new project can significantly impact authorization costs and time frames. It is also essential to analyze projects at the inception to identify which authorizations are required and which are critical to meeting project deadlines. 

Given the current emphasis of regulatory agencies in public participation, it is also crucial to develop a strategy that considers the involvement of all affected stakeholders in the permitting process. The primary objective of the firm is to keep projects moving forward in a timely and orderly fashion.

Air Permits.

The time for getting a permit approved depends on the type of authorization needed. While a typical Permit by Rule allows construction to start immediately, a full NSR permit can take years. We are dedicated to closely monitoring permit proceedings and helping clients ensure that air and regulatory submissions are consistent. To avoid permitting delays, every application submittal, should be technically sound and administratively complete. It is advisable to match the air permit application milestones with the project schedule’s critical path to ensure optimization of the time required to obtain the permit.  It is critical for representatives from various intra-company disciplines to coordinate periodically to assess and advise management on the progress of a permit application. Many state agencies implement the so-called "expedited permit process" by requiring the applicant to pay a larger up-front fee. An “expedited permit” must still be carefully managed. Because most agencies have simply shifted workloads to accomplish an “expedited permit” system, a non-expedited permit now requires a longer time to process by the issuing agency. A well-managed air permit application can lead to earlier project returns on investment. In addition, a well-crafted final permit will result in lower pollution control equipment capital expenditures, and lower operational costs because of lower monitoring, recordkeeping, and reporting requirements.

Federal Regulations

We have considerable experience in state and federal regulations that implement provisions of the Clean Air Act (CAA), including Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) Standards, the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), Reasonably Available Control Technology (RACT), New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) and EPA's Clean Power Plan (CPP)[1], which establishes carbon emission standards for the power sector under the CAA.

We also work with clients to address issues associated with carbon capture and sequestration, including regulatory and permitting requirements, and the allocation of liability and property rights. In addition, we represent clients in administrative and judicial proceedings that challenge EPA interpretive and legislative rules.

Emission Credit Strategies

The Law Office of C. William Smalling has a thorough understanding of a broad range of CAA regulations with national reach as well as state-specific rules. In particular, we provide emission credit strategies to meet Nonattainment New Source Review offset requirements. We expedite and apply for the use of emission credits from one nonattainment area to satisfy offset requirements in a different nonattainment area, and the use of NOx emission credits as a substitute for offset requirements relating to VOC emissions.

Air Permit Procedures

The time for getting a permit approved depends on the type of authorization needed. While a typical Permit by Rule allows construction to start immediately, a full NSR permit can take years. We are dedicated to closely monitoring permit proceedings and helping clients ensure that air and regulatory submissions are consistent. To avoid permitting delays, every submittal, which relates to a given permit application, should be technically sound and administratively complete. It is advisable to match the air permit application milestones with the project schedule’s critical path to ensure optimization of the time required to obtain the permit.  It is critical for representatives from various intra-company disciplines to coordinate periodically to assess and advise management on the progress of a permit application.

Many state agencies implement the so-called "expedited permit process" by requiring the applicant to pay costly up-front fees. However, an “expedited permit” may not actually lead to faster permit times unless the entire permitting process is carefully managed. Additionally, because most agencies have simply shifted workloads to accomplish an “expedited permit” system, a non-expedited permit now requires a longer time to process by the issuing agency.

A well implemented and managed air permit application can lead to earlier project returns on investment. In addition, a well crafted final permit will result in lower pollution control equipment capital expenditures, and lower operational costs in the form of monitoring, recordkeeping, and reporting.

Texas Regulatory Requirements

There are a number of state regulatory agencies in Texas, as well as county and city governments that have licensing and permitting requirements based on the type of service, or the particular products associated with the business.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), the leading state environmental agency, is tasked with making final determinations on contested permit and enforcement matters. The agency reviews applications and issues a wide array of environmental permits, including:

  • Water quality permits
  • Beneficial land use permits
  • New source review air permits
  • Municipal solid waste permits
  • Industrial solid waste permits
  • Hazardous waste permits
  • Underground injection well permits

Employment Law

In addition to environmental regulatory requirements, businesses in the chemical and energy sector have a number of responsibilities under a variety of state and federal employment, labor, safety and wage laws. First, all employers are required to register with the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), the agency that collects unemployment taxes for all workers employed in the state and enforces a variety of labor rules.

Moreover, federal and state law prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, disability, age or national origin and these laws are enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Civil Rights Division of the TWC. All employers with 15 or more employees engaged in an industry affecting commerce, employment agencies, and labor unions are prohibited from denying equal employment opportunities. Regardless of the number of individuals employed, any county, municipality, state agency or instrumentality (including public institutes of education), is also prohibited from denying equal employment opportunities.

Safety Requirements

The Occupational Safety and Health Consultation (OSHCON) program is administered by the Texas Department of Insurance, Division of Workers’ Compensation. The program conducts free on-site safety and health consultations of small, private sector employers to help them understand and comply with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations. The program is designed for employers in high hazard industries, with 250 or fewer employees per worksite, and less than 500 employees nationwide. 

In sum, permit proceedings involve significant time and expense, a thorough understanding of state and federal regulations, and attention to detail and diligence. Once a project obtains proper authorization, businesses must adhere to rules promulgated by the EPA and TCEQ, as well as state and federal employment and safety laws. The Law Office of C. William Smalling provides a comprehensive approach that can help expedite these proceedings, bring any project to fruition, and keep a company in compliance with regulatory requirements.



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