Friday, April 19, 2019

An Overview of Submissions Under the Texas Environmental, Health, and Safety Audit Privilege Act

Under the Texas Environmental, Health, and Safety Audit Privilege Act (“the Act”), those who conduct voluntary environmental or health and safety audits of regulated operations and facilities are entitled to immunity from administrative penalties for violations that are discovered, disclosed, and corrected within a certain amount of time. Under the Act, an audit that qualifies for protection is a voluntary evaluation, assessment, or review of compliance with environmental or health and safety laws or a related permit conducted by an operator or owner. Below is an overview of the submissions required under the Act. 

Submissions under the Act 

There are three types of documents a person may submit under the Act: 

  • A notice of audit letter
  • A disclosure of violations letter
  • A request for an extension 

Notice of audit letter 

An individual must submit a notice of audit letter prior to commencing an audit. A notice of audit letter must include:  

  • The name of the individual conducting the audit
  • The date and time that the audit will commence 
  • A description of the leases, properties, or facilities to be audited

Disclosure of violations letter 

In order to gain immunity under the Act, an individual must submit a disclosure of violations letter, which is a voluntary disclosure of violations identified as a result of the audit.

Read more . . .

Friday, April 12, 2019

What is the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act?

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) was passed in 1980 in response to the hazardous waste practices of the time. CERCLA provides federal funds to clean up abandoned or uncontrolled hazardous waste sites, spills, accidents, and other emergency releases of contaminants and pollutants into the environment. CERCLA is an important environmental program, as it both ensures that valuable removal actions are taken and  enforces against responsible parties. As is discussed below, CERCLA relies on a number of enforcement tools to ensure that the above pollutants and hazards are removed in a timely manner. In addition, CERCLA promotes community involvement, accountability, and long-term protectiveness.
Read more . . .

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

What You Need to Know about Environmental Audits

Environmental audits allow companies to identify, assess, and fix problems before it’s too late. In addition, in many cases, federal and state laws can be used to shield companies from penalties assessed for violations discovered during voluntary audits. However, there are a few things that you should consider before undertaking an environmental audit in Texas, including:

Read more . . .

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Permit by Rule Authorizations and New Source Review Permits in Texas

Anyone who wishes to construct or modify a facility that emits air contaminants into the atmosphere must obtain authorization from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). TCEQ’s Office of Compliance and Enforcement is responsible for the enforcement of compliance with all environmental regulations and laws in Texas. In addition, since TCEQ has the authority to administer the Federal Clean Air Act requirements for Texas, it is also the primary enforcement agency for certain federal permits. Authorization from TCEQ comes in several forms, and the timeline for obtaining authorization can range from a few days to several years. Two such forms of authorization are:

Read more . . .

Thursday, August 16, 2018

What is the Texas Environmental, Health, and Safety Audit Privilege Act?

The Texas Environmental, Health, and Safety Audit Privilege Act (Act) was originally enacted in 1995. The purpose of the Act is the encouragement of voluntary compliance with environmental, health, and safety regulations. In addition, the Act incentivizes voluntary audits by facilities. Under the Act, facilities that voluntarily conduct audits are immune from civil and administrative penalties for violations that are uncovered and disclosed as a result of the voluntary audit. The Act also provides privilege for reports submitted in accordance with its requirements.

Read more . . .

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Can Corporate Officers be Held Personally Liability for Environmental Violations in Texas?

The Texas Supreme Court recently overturned an Austin Court of Appeals decision which held that a corporate officer could not be held personally liable for environmental violations unless certain conditions were present. Below is an overview of this decision and its implications on corporate officers in Texas.

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Thursday, March 29, 2018

Texas Leads the Nation in Clean Water Act Violations

According to a new report by Environment Texas, an environmental advocacy group, Texas leads the nation in violations of the Clean Water Act. The report found that over a 21-month period from January 2016 to September 2017, major industrial facilities in the state released pollution that exceeded levels allowed under Clean Water Act (CWA) permits 938 times. By comparison, Pennsylvania was second on the list with more than 600 exceedances. If your business has been cited for CWA violation, it is essential to enlist the services of an experienced health, safety and environmental attorney.

Read more . . .

Monday, March 26, 2018

Texas Supreme Court ruled on March 23 that coating manufacturer should proceed with its appeal of TCEQ Emission Credits decision

The Texas Supreme Court ruled on March 23 that coating manufacturer AC Interests LP should be allowed to proceed with its appeal TCEQ decision, saying that the law left the consequences of delay ambiguous. The majority found that, since the TCAA did not spell out how to interpret the time limit for providing notice, the proper interpretation is the time limits are directory and not mandatory. That is, the suit should not be dismissed even if notice was served late.

Read more . . .

Thursday, March 15, 2018

TCEQ Nearing Decision on Dripping Springs’ Wastewater Discharge Permit

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) is slated to render its final decision on the city of Dripping Springs’ proposed wastewater discharge permit. One factor that may weigh in this decision is a recent, unrelated dye-trace study of the effect on the drinking water and inhabitant species in the Onion Creek area. The opposition from environmental advocates and community residents highlights how resolving such controversies requires the advice and guidance of health, safety, and environmental attorneys.

Read more . . .

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Energy Transfer Partners Brings Defamation Claim Against Environmental Groups

After years of protests over the Dakota Access Pipeline by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe,  indigenous rights activists and environmental groups, the Trump Administration granted final construction approval to Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) in January 2017. The approval was the culmination of a hard fought battle that required the advice and counsel of experienced energy and environmental attorneys.

Read more . . .

Monday, November 27, 2017

In Focus: Measuring the Seismic Activity of Oil Field–Linked Quakes

According to a number of scientific studies, there is a direct link between the recent wave of earthquakes throughout the state of Texas and new oil and gas-related drilling techniques such as hydraulic fracturing or “fracking.”

Today, a state-funded earthquake monitoring system at the University of Texas at Austin (UT) known as TexNet is measuring and tracking seismic activity in the state, particularly in West Texas which has seen a fracking boom. TexNet relies on 22 permanent and 40 portable monitoring stations to track seismic activity. The system was set up in 2015 after lawmakers authorized state-funding.

Read more . . .

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