New Air Permitting Rules for Ag Operations
Air permitting for the agriculture industry has seen sweeping changes in the last decade. Seven new Agriculture Air Quality Standard Permits issued by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) became effective in April 2010, making life easier for many small agriculture operators and distribution centers servicing local farmers. Air Quality Standard Permits now cover most of the air permitting requirements for the industry, making it more straightforward and consistent, while alleviating undue burdens on regulators and reducing the financial burden on applicants.
Westward was able to dig deep into regulations and logically make connections between existing law and environmental requirements to gain new understanding of the relationship between federal and state regulations. Working with the TCEQ to evaluate the permitting procedures for agriculture clients, Westward demonstrated that seed treatments should be categorized no differently than these same products applied directly to crops. In December 2015, the TCEQ updated their list of De Minimis emission sources to include application of seed treatments.
Agriculture clients can authorize many simple facilities by claiming these Standard Permits, which require no registration with the TCEQ or fees and have no public notice requirements. However, Westward has several clients who elect to have emission calculations prepared and additional documentation to demonstrate compliance with the Standard Permit when a facility is inspected by the TCEQ.
While Standard Permits are a more streamlined approach to agricultural air quality permitting, there will always be some agriculture operations that do not meet the requirements and must continue to use the other available permitting options for more complex facilities.