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2003-2009: TCEQ National Comments Relating to Multimedia and Administrative Issues

Official statements of the TCEQ's position regarding national policies and activities relating to multimedia issues prior to 2010.
Date
Submitted
Short Title
04/30/09 Standard Data Elements for Reports under Section 1512 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
12/19/08 National Organic Program (NOP) - Access to Pasture (Livestock)
07/15/08 Bexar County Karst Invertebrates Draft Recovery Plan
07/15/08 Williamson County Regional Habitat Conservation Plan
04/02/08 National Program Managers Guidance FY 2009
09/04/07 Cross-Media Electronic Reporting Rule Deadline for Authorized Programs
04/26/07 National Program Managers Guidance FY 2008
06/15/06 Office of Management and Budget Proposed Risk Assessment Bulletin
04/17/06 EPA's Harmonization in Interspecies Extrapolation: Use of Body Weight3/4 as Default Method in Derivation of the Oral Reference Dose
11/11/05 EPA's Proposed Supplemental Environmental Project Policy
08/05/05 Guidance on NPDES Wet Weather and CAFO Inspection Reporting Changes, Other NPDES Inspection Reporting Changes, and PCS Data Entry and Software Changes
06/28/05 EPA Information Collection Request (ICR) for The Framework for the Review of State Enforcement Programs
06/09/05 ECOS Input to EPA FY 2007 Budget Development
04/01/05 2006 Update to EPA National Program Managers Guidance
02/10/05 Application for the National Environmental Education Advisory Council
12/02/04 Framework for State Program Review
11/30/04 Draft Guide to Analyzing Environmental Innovations
09/20/04 2005 Exchange Network Guidance
08/20/04 Federal Highway Administration and Texas Department of Transportation on I-69/Trans-Texas Corridor Study
03/31/04 National Program Managers (NPM) Proposed Guidance for Fiscal Year 2005
03/09/04 Revisions to Regulations Applicable to Permits Issued Under the Endangered Species Act
01/06/04 Small Local Government Compliance Assistance Policy
11/24/03 Texas Environmental Resource Stewards (TERS): Texas Ecological Assessment Protocol Results
09/10/03 Enforcement and Compliance Assurance National Program Priorities Planning Process for 2005-2007
08/15/03 Integrated Compliance Information System (ICIS) - NPDES Draft Detailed Design
07/18/03 Region 6 Draft Strategic Plan
07/11/03 State Innovative Grants
06/30/03 Prioritization of FY04 Interstate Technology Regulatory Council (ITRC) Five Year Program Plan
01/21/03 EPA Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO) Website

DATE SUBMITTED: 04/30/09

SHORT TITLE: Standard Data Elements for Reports under Section 1512 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

SUBMITTED TO: Office of Management and Budget

OFFICE PREPARING: Executive Office

STAFF CONTACT: Patricia Brummer

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS: The TCEQ supports transparency and accountability standards and appreciates OMB publishing the standard data elements for use in complying with the reporting requirements. The TCEQs overriding concern is that data elements, guidance, and grant requirements will continue to shift even after the award and expenditure of funds. If this were to occur, the TCEQ believes compliance with ARRA requirements may become a tremendous resource drain to the TCEQ and sub-recipients. Additionally, some requirements seem inappropriate for all entity types and the TCEQ believes explicit distinctions are needed.

The TCEQ certainly understands the motivation for an aggressive approach, but believes there is wisdom in tempering requirements to strike a balance between administrative obligations and programmatic accomplishments. In the case of the TCEQ, it means focusing the preponderance of resources toward environmental goals which protect Texas human and natural resources and create cleaner air, cleaner water, and the safest management of waste.

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DATE SUBMITTED: 12/19/08

SHORT TITLE: National Organic Program (NOP) - Access to Pasture (Livestock)

SUBMITTED TO: U.S. Department of Agriculture

OFFICE PREPARING: Chief Engineer's Office

STAFF CONTACT: Charles Maguire

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS: TCEQ comments address the statutory authority associated with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Marketing Services (AMS) development of rules stated to protect soil and water quality. The AMS has proposed fencing requirements to protect water quality that go beyond the scope and function Congress granted the AMS. Fencing of the creeks and stock ponds as a requirement to protect water quality has the potential to impact the TCEQs policy and regulatory efforts with animal feeding operations and TCEQ efforts to deal with water quality impairments related to livestock activity on private lands. A federal rule in the NOP that establishes a requirement to fence the creeks and stock ponds in order to protect soil and water quality could create a precedent that may ultimately affect the TCEQs regulations on non-organic CAFOs. TCEQ acknowledges the need to control all inputs consumed by organic certified livestock and the NOP may need to require fencing of the creeks and ponds for that purpose. However, when the rule is extrapolated out beyond the control of inputs to the requirement to protect soil and water quality, the TCEQ considers that action to be unnecessary and inappropriate. Additionally, the TCEQ comments that this rule is inconsistent with other programs within the very same federal agency, specifically, the United States Department of Agriculture-Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) prescribed grazing practice standard Code 528. In that practice standard, the USDA- NRCS does not require the fencing of creeks or stock ponds in order to conserve natural resources.

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DATE SUBMITTED: 07/15/08

SHORT TITLE: Bexar County Karst Invertebrates Draft Recovery Plan

SUBMITTED TO: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

OFFICE PREPARING: Office of Permitting, Remediation, and Registration

STAFF CONTACT: Cary Betz

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS: Generally, the TCEQ agrees with the spirit and intent of this plan. However, TCEQ respectfully submits the following comments.

In section 2.4, Narrative of Recovery Actions, paragraph 2.3 Determine the use of mesocaverns and habitat connectivity (A, C, E) on page 2.4-4, it is suggested that a set of guidelines be established with multiple partners, such as TCEQ and the City of San Antonio, or other site inspection entities, so that a construction site can be sampled for karst invertebrates by qualified personnel. TCEQ staff are well suited to the identification and evaluation of water quality concerns at construction sites, as these are clearly within our agency's jurisdiction. However, the interests of the public and the species in question may be better served by suggesting another partner to develop guidelines for determining whether mesocaverns are used or occupied by the karst invertebrates covered by this plan.

Similarly, Table 3, found in section 4.0 Implementation Schedule, page 4.0-2, identifies TCEQ as one of the "Responsible Parties" for the development of "a plan to protect non-cave/karst areas (mesocaverns) in-between caves or Karst Faunal Area." TCEQ is concerned that responsibility for this plan exceeds our authority by extending past water quality protection. TCEQ is willing to assist with the development of such a plan, but only as a resource for water quality issues. TCEQ is identified later in this same table as one of the "Responsible Parties" for "hydrological research," and has no objection to this role.

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DATE SUBMITTED: 07/15/08

SHORT TITLE: Williamson County Regional Habitat Conservation Plan

SUBMITTED TO:U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

OFFICE PREPARING: Office of Permitting, Remediation, and Registration

STAFF CONTACT: Cary Betz

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS: Generally, the TCEQ agrees with the spirit and intent of this plan. However, TCEQ requests that the plan be clarified with respect to our jurisdictional authority.

There are numerous references to "TCEQ standards (TCEQ 2004)." The "TCEQ 2004" reference is for "Instructions to geologists for Geologic Assessments on the Edwards Aquifer recharge/transition zones, Application Form 0585." The TCEQ is concerned that a potential participant in this regional habitat conservation plan may be confused by this citation, and misconstrue participation in the plan as a substitute for the water quality protection measures for the Edwards Aquifer that are required under Title 30, Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 213, Edwards Aquifer.

The TCEQ respectfully requests the addition of language clarifying that prospective participants in the regional habitat conservation plan must still obtain approval of proposed activities applicable under 30 TAC 213.2 and 213.4, and may require submission to the agency several plans in accordance with 30 TAC 213.5. The TCEQ believes that clarifying language, or a brief discussion of the relationship between the regional habitat conservation plan and TCEQ rules, could be inserted early in Chapter 4, alleviating our concerns and better serving potential participants in the plan.

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DATE SUBMITTED: 04/02/08

SHORT TITLE: National Program Managers Guidance FY 2009

SUBMITTED TO: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

OFFICE PREPARING: Intergovernmental Relations Division

STAFF CONTACT: Tangela Niemann

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS:
Office of Air and Radiation

Changes in Grant Purposes and Authorities (page A-4)

There are a number of problems with the proposed changes in funding for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) PM2.5 air monitoring program, some of which have already occurred.

PM2.5 Sec 103 funding is 100% federal funded, if the funding is changed to Sec 105 funding(60/40) TCEQ will lose 40% of the federal funding with PM2.5.

TCEQ is experiencing escalating laboratory costs (30%), shipping, utility, and contract operation costs related to the PM2.5 air monitoring program.

If, as planned, the EPA transitions the PM2.5 funding from Section 103(100% federal) to Section 105(60/40%) funding April 1, 2009, in the middle of the normal September-August fiscal year, it is going to cause even greater fiscal complications than it did with the abrupt ending of the current grant on April 1, 2008.

United States Mexico Border

Changes in Grant Purposes and Authorities (page A-3, 1st paragraph)

During a conference call with EPA and other Region 6 states on March 18, 2008, the TCEQ asked for clarification on a sentence in Appendix A - Grant Guidance, page A-3: "Funds have also been proposed to be reduced for the U.S.-Mexico Border work reflecting the transfer and ownership of a portion of the cross-border monitoring network to Mexico." In response to this question, Region 6 staff stated that there are plans to decrease the budget for Border Activities in Region 6 and 9 by approximately 50%.

TCEQ doesn't understand how a 50% reduction in Border Activities would reflect the transfer and ownership of a portion of the cross-border monitoring network to Mexico. In the case of Texas, a very small portion of the PPG Border Activities grant is spent on cross-border monitoring (specifically in Cd. Juárez), and none of those maintenance activities have been transferred to Mexico. Meanwhile, the PPG Border Activities grant covers a wide variety of activities related to monitoring in Texas, other field operations in Texas, and a significant portion of the TCEQs activities related to the Border 2012 Program. Therefore, cutting all those programs by 50% based on a development that hasnt happened (transfer of ownership) seems illogical.

TCEQ requests that further clarification be included in the guidance document on the relation between (a) the anticipated 50% reduction in border funding and (b) the transfer of ownership of cross-border monitoring to Mexico, and its relevance to Texas.

Office of Water

Strategies to Protect Human Health: Fish and Shellfish Safe to Eat

Comment on Section II, Sub-objective 2 - Safe Shellfish (page 15)

In the document, the EPA discusses addressing and reducing the incidence of high blood mercury levels. However, the statistics under Key National Strategies refer to fish consumption advisories for a range of contaminants. It is recommended that these statistics be revised to discuss the incidence of fish consumption advisories associated only with mercury, rather than to include all contaminants.

Comment on Section II, Sub-objective 2 - Safe Shellfish (page 18)

In the document, the EPA discusses clean water programs that will reduce pathogen levels in key waters. It is recommended that the example of reduce storm water runoff be replaced with a program objective to reduce the level of contaminants or pollutants in storm water runoff.

Strategies to Protect Fresh Waters, Coastal Waters, and Wetlands

Measure # WQ-19a - Number, and national percent, of high priority state NPDES permits that are issued as scheduled

EPA is proposing to change Measure # WQ-19a from Number, and national percent, of high priority state NPDES permits that are issued as scheduled" to Number, and national percent, of high priority state NPDES permits that are issued in the fiscal year.

This change would shift the time period for identifying the priority list earlier in the process and shifting the commitment to a total number of permits issued versus a percentage of permits issued. States will need the ability to substitute specific permits that will be issued to meet their commitment when unforeseen issues arise with permits.

Since the measure is being changed from capturing a percent of permits issued to a total number, we recommend that the new measure be modified to delete reference to a percentage and read as follows: Number of high priority state NPDES permits that are issued in the fiscal year.

Measure # CO-2 Total coastal and non-coastal acres protected from vessel sewage by no discharge zones

Texas agrees with the EPA objective to protect water bodies from vessel sewage. No discharge zones already exist in Texas. While setting the protection standard is important, it is equally important that there be capacity at harbors and marinas for pump-out of sewage from vessels. It is recommended that EPA develop a program activity measure or indicator measure to track either the number of pump-out facilities or the total volume of sewage removed per year from vessels for proper treatment and disposal.

Measure # SP-23 Reduce the number of currently exceeded water quality standards in impaired transboundary segments of U.S. surface waters

The current target for the year 2012 calls for restoration of nine of the 17 impairments identified in the 2002 baseline. The EPA and Texas are initiating an effort to complete TMDLs or equivalent plans to focus on indicator bacteria impairments that exist in the Rio Grande, a shared international water. Texas supports the restoration goal and supports dedicated federal funding to supplement local and state funding to address these impairments. However, evidence or a demonstration that the impairments no longer exist in 2012 may prove difficult to verify in such a short time frame.

Office of Enforcement & Compliance Assurance

Monitoring and Enforcement

Sub-objective 5.1.3 (page 57) speaks to efforts to improve monitoring of transboundary wastes. In the past these efforts have required the Texas Commission on Environmental Qualitys (TCEQ) direct participation as a delegate state. There is no discussion as to the role of the Border States in this part of the plan, thus either 1.) we will not be required to participate in any manner, or 2.) our participation would be required to a degree without it specified in the guidance.

U.S. Customs has, since 09/11/2001, been very reluctant to allow our participation/involvement in such monitoring (inspection) activities. Therefore, we recommend it be addressed both as to our role, if any, and if so, what access right would be restored to the border states at customs facilities.

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DATE SUBMITTED: 09/04/07

SHORT TITLE: Cross-Media Electronic Reporting Rule Deadline for Authorized Programs

SUBMITTED TO: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

OFFICE PREPARING: Office of Administrative Services

STAFF CONTACT: Brandon Harris

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS:
The TCEQ is committed to utilizing technology which both enhances the effectiveness of and improves compliance with environmental laws and regulations. Implementing CROMERR will require an extensive redesign, some prohibitively expensive, of current electronic reporting and record keeping systems at agencies and regulated entities.

The TCEQ supports the proposed deadline extension as long as the performance standards and other requirements promulgated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on October 13, 2005, are not increased. Additional time may help states further develop technical components of receiving systems, submit more comprehensive rule packages and applications to revise or modify authorized programs, and work with EPA on significant issues.

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DATE SUBMITTED: 04/26/07

SHORT TITLE: National Program Managers Guidance FY 2008

SUBMITTED TO: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

OFFICE PREPARING: Chief Engineer's Office

STAFF CONTACT: Clyde Bohmfalk

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS:
Office of Air and Radiation

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is particularly concerned about the potential for reduced or redirected federal funding assistance with respect to the support for air monitoring networks. It has been noted that current funding under Section 103 of the Federal Clean Air Act could be reduced. This could force states to use Section 105 funds to support the PM2.5 monitoring network. This agency would then have to provide additional matching funds to maintain the existing monitoring network. Even with the divestment of low-value monitoring for several NAAQS pollutants, divestment opportunities will be limited, since most of Texas NAAQS monitoring is in non-attainment or near non-attainment areas, is required by other federal grants, or is necessary to measure pollutant transport. Costs for new monitors are likely to increase and Texas does not have sufficient spare monitors to replace ones that malfunction.

Office of Water

Strategies to Protect Human Health: Fish and Shellfish Safe to Eat Comment on Subobjective B)2) Safe Shellfish: The Texas State Department of Health Services (TSDHS) identifies and closes oyster beds in Texas based upon U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines and requirements. The TCEQ then identifies the closed areas as impairments on the 303(d) List. In several instances, these closures are not based upon water quality monitoring data indicating elevated levels of indicator bacteria, nor data showing a pollutant discharge as the cause of the closure. Since closures of this type cannot be addressed by limiting or eliminating pollutant discharges, implementation of a Clean Water Act (CWA) program will not address the closures. It is suggested that the EPA identify an objective to prioritize CWA program activities towards the closed areas where monitoring data identify pollutant discharge impacts.

Strategies to Protect Human Health: Water Safe for Swimming Comment on Subobjective B)3) Reduce Pathogen Levels in Recreational Waters Generally: The TCEQ agrees that ineffective septic systems are contributing sources to recreational use impairments. In addition to EPAs objective to design decentralized systems, the EPA should also emphasize objectives and funding to connect households with failing septic systems to a POTW. The EPA should allow the use of Section 319 grants for this purpose, to eliminate nonpoint sources. Such a strategy could facilitate progress to address these sources, particularly systems in economically disadvantaged communities within impaired watersheds.

Strategies to Protect Fresh Waters, Coastal Waters, and Wetlands: Protect Coastal and Ocean Waters Comment on Strategy 4) Ocean Protection Programs: The TCEQ through its Galveston Bay Estuary Program and partners have successfully collaborated to implement projects to beneficially use sediment dredged from Galveston Bay to design and create high quality habitat areas for birds and other aquatic life. EPA may desire to review the success of this initiative and its possible application elsewhere.

Strategies to Protect Large Aquatic Ecosystems: Protect Mexico Border Water Quality Comment on Strategy B)2) Wastewater Treatment Financing: In early 2007, the TCEQ oversaw completion of a comprehensive watershed protection plan to address nutrients, sediment, and biochemical oxygen demand impacts on the Arroyo Colorado, a Texas border area waterway. This effort was funded in part with the support of a Section 319 grant. The plan includes implementation activities targeted through 2015 that would cost about $65 million, mostly for wastewater infrastructure and agricultural best management practices. The TCEQ urges the EPA to develop specific border protection strategies in collaboration with other federal entities that provide infrastructure funding that would give priority towards financial assistance towards this watershed.

Appendix B: Measures with National/Regional Data and Targets Comment on Strategic Target SP-10 Number of Water Bodies identified in 2002 as not attaining water quality standards where standards are now fully attained: The TCEQ supports this target and is implementing TMDLs and other strategies aimed at restoration of water quality. The TCEQ published a Status Report on TMDLs (October 2006) which can be viewed at the identified weblink below, which numerically describes contributions towards environmental progress addressing point sources and nonpoint sources through TMDL implementation in Texas. This progress may contribute towards the EPA target. Dependent on EPAs specific measurement methods, this progress could also contribute towards targets in measures WQ-21, CO-1, and SP-38.

United States-Mexico Border

Reductions in funding can have a determining impact on the implementation of some of the goals related to environmental issues along the U.S. Mexico border area. It is noted that border efforts are acknowledged in the guidance for the Office of Air and Radiation and the Office of Water, but there is no mention of U.S.-Mexico border issues in the draft guidance for the Office of Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxic Substances or the Office of Policy, Economics and Innovation. In addition, in the guidance for the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response it is unclear what the priorities are.

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DATE SUBMITTED: 06/15/06

SHORT TITLE: Office of Management and Budget Proposed Risk Assessment Bulletin

SUBMITTED TO: Office of Management and Budget (OMB)

OFFICE PREPARING: Chief Engineer's Office

STAFF CONTACT: Joseph T. Hanley, Jr.

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS:
Section I: Definitions

“Risk assessment” as defined in this section may be too broad. As such, this document has far-reaching implications across regulatory programs (e.g., Superfund), regulatory guidance (e.g., cancer guidelines), and disciplines (e.g., toxicology, epidemiology, economics, medicine, chemistry, engineering). The potential effects and far-reaching implications of the Bulletin deserve a detailed evaluation across potentially affected disciplines and programs.

Standards Related to Characterization of Risk
This section of the Bulletin indicates that every quantitative risk estimate should provide a range of plausible risk estimates when there is scientific uncertainty or variability. This seems to require a risk estimate range for every risk assessment (i.e., influential and non-influential, screening level assessments) and ranges for many of the inputs into remediation risk assessments. If required by the final Bulletin, calculating multiple estimates of risk based on possible combinations of these ranges to provide a risk range may be burdensome and should be commensurate with necessity and the importance of the risk assessment.
This section of the Bulletin also indicates that where feasible, a document made available to the public in support of a regulation should specify peer-reviewed studies known to the agency that support, are directly relevant to, or fail to support any estimates of risk of adverse health effects and the methodology used to reconcile inconsistencies in the scientific data. A reference in a risk assessment to the USEPA Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) substance file, for example, should be considered to satisfy this requirement.

Standards Related to Critical Assumptions
This section indicates that the range of scientific opinions regarding (1) the likelihood of plausible alternative assumptions, (2) the direction and magnitude of any resulting changes if key assumptions were to be changed, and (3) the basis and rationale for combining the assumptions utilized should be discussed for both influential and non-influential risk assessments. Additionally, whenever possible, a quantitative evaluation of reasonable alternative assumptions should be provided. As this may be burdensome, instead of a requirement being applied indiscriminately, the level of effort should be commensurate with necessity and the importance of the risk assessment.

Standards Related to Regulatory Analysis
The basis for a central risk estimate should not be limited to methods involving calculating multiple estimates of risk, or a distribution of multiple estimates of risk, and should allow for a central estimate based on assumptions judged to be representative of central tendency (e.g., 50th percentile exposure factors, average exposure point concentrations).

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DATE SUBMITTED: 04/17/06

SHORT TITLE: EPA's Harmonization in Interspecies Extrapolation: Use of Body Weight3/4 as Default Method in Derivation of the Oral Reference Dose (RfD)

SUBMITTED TO: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

OFFICE PREPARING: Chief Engineer's Office

STAFF CONTACT: Michael Honeycutt, Ph.D.

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS: The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) applauds USEPA's use of allometric scaling in developing a human equivalent dose for oral reference doses to replace a portion of the default interspecies uncertainty factor. This is a long-overdue step in the harmonization of cancer and non-cancer risk assessment. The TCEQ strongly supports the use of scientific data to supplant default, policy-based procedures.

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DATE SUBMITTED: 11/11/05

SHORT TITLE: EPA's Proposed Supplemental Environmental Project Policy

SUBMITTED TO: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

OFFICE PREPARING: Office of Compliance and Enforcement

STAFF CONTACT: Debra Barber

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS: It would be helpful for this EPA guidance to encourage anyone interested in perusing a federal SEP to also read applicable state SEP requirements, since differing state requirements and restrictions may cause confusion. For example: EPA SEP policy allows an on-site SEP; TCEQ proposed new SEP guidance does not. EPA SEP policy would accept a project to provide assistance to help meet obligations under the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act; TCEQ SEP guidance does not. EPA SEP policy only requires progress reports and a completion certificate; TCEQ requires substantiating documentation, including verification of expenditures.

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DATE SUBMITTED: 08/05/05

SHORT TITLE: Guidance on NPDES Wet Weather and CAFO Inspection Reporting Changes, Other NPDES Inspection Reporting Changes, and PCS Data Entry and Software Changes

SUBMITTED TO: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

OFFICE PREPARING: Field Operations

STAFF CONTACT: Jan Sills

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS: The proposed requirement to require the entry of wet weather inspections into PCS is beyond our current program commitment and will require additional resources that have not been accounted for. Attempts to increase data reporting beyond current program commitments without negotiations are inappropriate and may not be technically feasible nor economically practicable. We continue to work to develop the capability to transfer inspection data from the state to the federal data systems. Additional resources will, however, be required to extract the data and provide it to EPA in the required format and time frame. In addition, in order to use the proposed Single Event Violation codes to report violations noted during wet weather inspections, we will have to enter and store new data not currently collected and stored in CCEDS. The time, effort, and financial resources necessary to provide this new data has not been determined but may be significant. The date proposed for implementation of these guidelines conflicts with the proposed ICIS-NPDES Policy Statement. The ICIS-NPDES Policy Statement allows the TCEQ approximately three years after ICIS-NPDES comes on line, or until 2009 or later, to complete entry of the Water Enforcement National Database (WENDB) permit components for Stormwater and General Permits. The wet weather inspection activity for these permits cannot be maintained in the PCS or the ICIS-NPDES data system until the permit components are entered. The state’s responsibility for the new data requirements should be limited to current program commitments or re-negotiated as part of an EPA-State agreement. Year-to-year commitments should be managed using the Performance Partnership Agreement (PPA).

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DATE SUBMITTED: 06/28/05

SHORT TITLE: EPA Information Collection Request (ICR) for The Framework for the Review of State Enforcement Programs

SUBMITTED TO: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

OFFICE PREPARING: Office of Compliance and Enforcement

STAFF CONTACT: Russ Baier

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS: The minimal burden that EPA has projected in this notice is based on the assumption that all necessary data will be readily available in the federal data systems. Although we are continuing to work with EPA to resolve several issues regarding the transfer of data from the state to the federal data systems, some of these projects may not be completed prior to the Texas review (probably in FY 2007). Furthermore, there may continue to be disagreements regarding the interpretation and use of certain data elements that may increase the burden on the state and/or result in unwarranted "deficiencies" that will need to be resolved in the future. Some of the Framework data metrics will need to be obtained from state data systems. Additional resources will be required to extract the data and, in some cases, to begin to develop new data not currently collected. The Framework should be modified to make it clear that a state is not responsible to provide data and/or to meet any sooner deadlines than those established in regulation or in program commitments which have been negotiated between individual states and EPA. The issues above may result in additional resource burdens not identified in the ICR notice. The Framework requirements should be modified or clarified to limit the resource implications to no greater than what is required to satisfy current program commitments and to maintain delegation authority over core programs.

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DATE SUBMITTED: 06/09/05

SHORT TITLE: ECOS Input to EPA FY 2007 Budget Development

SUBMITTED TO: Environmental Council of States (ECOS)

OFFICE PREPARING: Intergovernmental Relations

STAFF CONTACT: Linda Haynie

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS: TCEQ recommends that for FY 2006 and FY 2007, the level of funding needed for our agency to carry out all of our state’s federal program requirements should be no less than the current, FY 2005 level.

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DATE SUBMITTED: 04/01/05

SHORT TITLE: 2006 Update to EPA National Program Managers Guidance

SUBMITTED TO: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

OFFICE PREPARING: Intergovernmental Relations

STAFF CONTACT: Linda Haynie

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS: Comments from TCEQ include input received from staff in the Office of Administrative Services/Budget and Planning, Office of Compliance and Enforcement, and the Chief Engineer’s Office (which included input from water program staff in other program areas). Due to the nature of the NPMs, comments varied substantially. The most extensive comments were collected through the TCEQ Water Quality Coordinating Team, are very detailed, and pertain to the NPM from EPA’s Office of Water.

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DATE SUBMITTED: 02/10/05

SHORT TITLE: Application for the National Environmental Education Advisory Council

SUBMITTED TO: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

OFFICE PREPARING: Small Business and Environmental Assistance

STAFF CONTACT: Eunice Pearson-Hefty

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS: If Texas is able to participate on the Council the effort would help further TCEQ's mission of protection public health and the environment. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is offering for nomination, Dr. Eunice Pearson Hefty from the Small Business and Environmental Assistance Division. Dr. Hefty is the Education Coordinator for the agency and is responsible for the Teaching Environmental Sciences program.

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DATE SUBMITTED: 12/02/04

SHORT TITLE: Framework for State Program Review

SUBMITTED TO: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

OFFICE PREPARING: Office of Environmental Policy, Analysis, and Assessment

STAFF CONTACT: Herb Williams

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS: Some metrics specified in the draft Framework conflict with the current approach to inspection planning. EPA should provide a flexible approach to oversight by using negotiated metrics to account for differences between states in the number, type, and size of industry, incentive programs; and other variables which affect each state's approach to inspection planning. EPA should consider enforcement concerns on issues such as different enforcement processes required by state statutes that impact enforcement timeframes, prescriptive requirements to determine how an entity will return to compliance, and the amount of information that may be disclosed on cases that include an analysis of ability to pay. All metrics should evaluate performance against a standard rather than state-to-state comparisons.

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DATE SUBMITTED: 11/30/04

SHORT TITLE: Draft Guide to Analyzing Environmental Innovations

SUBMITTED TO: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

OFFICE PREPARING: Policy and Regulations

STAFF CONTACT: Hector Mendieta

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS: It would be useful to have a process to promote innovative approaches to environmental issues. The draft guide is so complex and cumbersome to use that potential innovators may be discouraged from using the proposed process. EPA should streamline the evaluation process, particularly for innovative projects that are less complex, small in scope of potential impact, or perhaps that need to be fast-tracked.

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DATE SUBMITTED: 09/20/04

SHORT TITLE: 2005 Exchange Network Guidance

SUBMITTED TO: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

OFFICE PREPARING: Office of Administrative Services

STAFF CONTACT: Gregg Nudd

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS: Our proposed comments fall into two broad categories, flexibility in grant proposals for electronic discharge monitoring reports, or e-DMRs, and eligibility criteria for receiving a grant. The comments on proposal flexibility focus on EPA's stated intention to prevent e-DMR proposals from including functionality to submit e-DMRs to the Permit Compliance System (PCS) or use the current submission format, the Interim Data Exchange Format (IDEF). While this language is not within the draft guidance, the EPA indicated during the September 9 meeting that such language would be included in a revised draft. The EPA intends to produce an errata document which includes this restriction, but that document was not available in time for the preparation of these comments. The eligibility criteria comments focus on the definition of an operational Network Node, which does not consider reporting time lines and may impact our eligibility to apply for a grant. The most significant concern with the draft guidance is the intention to prevent submissions to PCS or the use of IDEF. At least one state, Michigan, already flows e-DMRs to PCS in the IDEF format. The modernized PCS, called the Integrated Compliance Information System (ICIS), is not scheduled to accept uploads of e-DMRs until the Fall of 2007. Which is a year later than what they told us last year. The proposed guidance language would prevent an e-DMR system from going on-line until at least the Fall of 2007. That assumes ICIS will meet that Fall 2007 target date, which is unlikely given the history of that project.

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DATE SUBMITTED: 08/20/04

SHORT TITLE: Federal Highway Administration and Texas Department of Transportation on I-69/Trans-Texas Corridor Study

SUBMITTED TO: Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT)

OFFICE PREPARING: Policy and Regulations

STAFF CONTACT: Susi Ferguson

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS: TCEQ proposes to concur by signature of its TAC and Steering Committee representatives with the Memorandum of Decision, with the following conditions: We propose to add an additional objective to Goal F (in all three of the discussion documents) to emphasize compliance with applicable state and federal requirements as criteria. TCEQ would like to emphasize that the GIS Screening Tool (GISST) and the Texas Ecological Assessment Protocol (TEAP) cited under Goal F, Tier 1 Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) Draft Evaluation Criteria, are both works in progress, and that the latest versions should always be used for Tier 1 and Tier 2 decision making.

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DATE SUBMITTED: 03/31/04

SHORT TITLE: National Program Managers (NPM) Proposed Guidance for Fiscal Year 2005

SUBMITTED TO: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

OFFICE PREPARING: Chief Engineer

STAFF CONTACT: Tom Weber

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS: Concerns with possible changes in inspection responsibilities for various federally authorized programs. Discussion of issues associated with specific outcomes/goals identified with the EPA water program. Various comments affecting TCEQ regulation of Class 5 UIC wells.

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DATE SUBMITTED: 03/09/04

SHORT TITLE: Revisions to Regulations Applicable to Permits Issued Under the Endangered Species Act

SUBMITTED TO: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

OFFICE PREPARING: Policy and Regulations

STAFF CONTACT: Mary Ambrose

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS: 1. TCEQ supports efforts to provide flexibility in the permitting process 2. TCEQ looks forward to reviewing and providing comment on any guidance that may be issued

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DATE SUBMITTED: 01/06/04

SHORT TITLE: Small Local Government Compliance Assistance Policy

SUBMITTED TO: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

OFFICE PREPARING: Small Business and Environmental Assistance

STAFF CONTACT: Daphne McMurrer

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS: Several proposed changes will make it much more likely that Texas will utilize this policy. The TCEQ supports the following elements of the proposed policy revisions, since they will enhance use of the policy: The proposed change to a two tier approach for defining "small" communities (3,300 and 10,000 population, with additional restrictions on eligibility). The option for small communities to work with the state to identify all of their environmental noncompliance and then enter into a written enforceable agreement. The new flexibility for local governments whose technical, managerial, and financial capacity is so limited they are unlikely to achieve and sustain compliance without the state's assistance. That EPA may fund projects to improve a state's small community compliance assistance. In addition, the TCEQ supports the option that will provide an incentive for local governments to develop and implement an EMS; however, we have several suggestions to improve this option: Allow the State, as well as the site, the option to determine whether an EMS is a useful approach to compliance for the site. This will help ensure that suitable candidates are selected for implementation of an EMS. Allow for this incentive based on a State approved EMS. Using existing standards in states such as Texas, will streamline EMS implementation and associated incentives. Allow for this incentive for local governments that already have an EMS approved through a state process or through EPA's process (National Environmental Performance Track), as long as the reduced or waived fee is applied back into environmental improvements. Clarify that the reduced or waived penalty is not provided based on entering into the agreement to implement the EMS, but based on successfully implementing an EMS that is reviewed and approved by the State.

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DATE SUBMITTED: 11/24/03

SHORT TITLE: Texas Environmental Resource Stewards (TERS): Texas Ecological Assessment Protocol Results

SUBMITTED TO: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

OFFICE PREPARING: Policy and Regulations

STAFF CONTACT: Russ Baier

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS: The Texas Environmental Resource Stewards (TERS) project was initiated in July 2002 to seek greater Federal and State interagency collaboration on identifying and supporting joint priorities, particularly regarding transportation issues. Various state and federal resource agencies participated in developing the TERS Ecological Assessment Protocol (TEAP) for conducting the assessment and identification of priority ecological resources in the state of Texas. In October 2003 EPA indicated that it was requesting a technical peer review of the TEAP by all participating state and federal agencies. Four specific questions were raised by EPA as the "charge to the TERS Peer Review Panel." TCEQ's comments included the following points: EPA needs to clarify the explicit limitations of TEAP's use in order to avoid the abuse of this information to reach inappropriate conclusion or decisions. TCEQ is concerned that the overall composite result introduces an inappropriate bias towards large continuous areas without regard to climate, ecosystem type, species habitat range, and other factors The report's assertion that human health toxicity from the exposure to air pollution is a surrogate for ecological toxicity is incorrect, and the use of cancer and non-cancer risk modeling based on National Air Toxics Assessment data is not appropriate for use as an ecological indicator. The composite reduces the ability of the TEAP to identify ecologically important areas within specific ecoregions because many of the criteria appear to be scored based on statewide analyses or comparisons. The report presents several important policy questions that are beyond the scope of a peer review of the technical feasibility and merits of the TEAP A public participation plan should be developed and implemented to solicit and consider stakeholder input on the development of this protocol and the use of its results in transportation and environmental planning.

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DATE SUBMITTED: 09/10/03

SHORT TITLE: Enforcement and Compliance Assurance National Program Priorities Planning Process for 2005-2007.

SUBMITTED TO: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

OFFICE PREPARING: Compliance and Enforcement

STAFF CONTACT: Carol Batterton

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS: TCEQ submitted comments on EPA's enforcement and compliance assurance national program priorities planning process for 2005-2007, which included recommendations on two new priorities and four existing priorities. The new priorities were: Malfunctions, Startup, and Shutdown in the Air Program; and Capacity Building in Investigational Expertise. Existing priorities included: New Source Review and Prevention of Significant Deterioration; Air Toxics; Storm Water; Confined Animal Feeding Operations; and RCRA. TCEQ also identified three areas of concern that Texas will need to address in the next 25 years, which were not suggested as priorities at this time but will need to be considered in the future. These areas of concern are Long Term Water Supply Needs; Air Pollution from Transportation Sources in Urban Areas; and Aging Wastewater Treatment Infrastructure.

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DATE SUBMITTED: 08/15/03

SHORT TITLE: Integrated Compliance Information System (ICIS) - NPDES Draft Detailed Design

SUBMITTED TO: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

OFFICE PREPARING: Office of Administrative Services

STAFF CONTACT: Greg Nudd

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS: Our comments fall into two broad categories, data communication (including electronic discharge monitoring reports or e-DMRs) and screen and report designs. The comments on data communication focus on a couple of key deficiencies with the current design document: it does not appear to allow for regulated entities to submit e-DMRs and it does not appear to support the State-EPA consensus on how data should be communicated between states and EPA. The comments on report design are intended to improve usability and the effectiveness of the screens and reports based on our significant experience with the current system. The most significant policy concern with the draft design document is that it does not appear to support direct submittal of e-DMRs by regulated entities. E-DMRs have been identified as a high priority by TCEQ staff and customers for electronic submittal. It is the highest volume regular data submittal processed by the agency. As a result, it has the highest potential for resource savings and improved data quality and timeliness. The TCEQ has been assured by EPA senior management that the modernized PCS would be able to support direct submittal of e-DMRs by regulated entities in Texas. Based on these assurances, the agency chose not to pursue an e-DMR processing system of our own. The specifications of the system need to be changed to clearly indicate direct submittals of DMRs by regulated entities.

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DATE SUBMITTED: 07/18/03

SHORT TITLE: Region 6 Draft Strategic Plan

SUBMITTED TO: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

OFFICE PREPARING: Strategic Assessment

STAFF CONTACT: Tom Weber

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS: The TCEQ comments note that the proposed Region 6 Strategic Plan is new, and is still under development. The TCEQ notes that the proposed plan appears to be largely a narrative description of existing programs under the new planning headings at this point, with several sections of the plan still to be developed, most significantly those that deal with partnership agreements and regional accountability. The TCEQ comments also note that Goal 2, Clean and Safe Water, differs considerably from the rest of the draft plan in that it is still much more EPA command and control oriented than the other sections of the plan, which appear to support more partnership based approaches with the states. The TCEQ comments are generally supportive of new planning goals for homeland security.

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DATE SUBMITTED: 07/11/03

SHORT TITLE: State Innovative Grants

SUBMITTED TO: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

OFFICE PREPARING: Small Business and Environmental Assistance

STAFF CONTACT: Susan Roothaan

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS: We would like to suggest two broad topic areas for consideration. These are described below. Many innovation programs tend to focus on environmental leaders, such as companies that are already on the innovations track through other programs (such as ISO14001). An important area that is needed is to develop a more comprehensive approach to helping those customers that are not already participating in Environmental Leadership programs. This proposal would focus on developing and delivering on-ramp services for customers that have not yet implemented a results-based EMS and need help along the way. Currently EPA and the States have a myriad of programs that require performance in exchange for incentives. Developing a comprehensive strategy that ties these programs together would encourage greater participation, especially among regulated entities who are less engaged, such as smaller businesses and local governments. This could also be used to help assure that the overall system is balanced and that participants are rewarded incentives for a consistent level of performance. To further increase participation, the effort would aim to streamline the EPA and State process for incentive delivery that supports these performance-based programs.

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DATE SUBMITTED: 06/30/03

SHORT TITLE: Prioritization of FY04 Interstate Technology Regulatory Council (ITRC) Five Year Program Plan

OFFICE PREPARING: Policy and Regulations

STAFF CONTACT: Forrest Brooks

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS: In the Five-Year Program Plan (FYPP), ITRC defines and communicates the strategic direction for the overall program, prioritizes the project areas in which it will support technical and training work teams, and balances forecast costs with anticipated revenues over the next five years. As a strategic planning tool, the FYPP sets the scope of work to be accomplished and defines ITRC's operational plan for 2004 thru 2007 to support out-year planning by federal agencies and ITRC members. As an open and democratic process, the FYPP enables input across a broad spectrum of the environmental community, balances the interests of various ITRC constituents, and helps mold a vision to guide ITRC participants over the ensuing five years. State Point of Contacts have the opportunity to provide their state's input to assist the ITRC Board of Directors in prioritizing the ITRC proposals and to provide strategic direction to the ITRC. The TCEQ is a member of the ITRC and prioritization of these projects is an integral responsibility. Comments relative to the project prioritization process will take the form of a spreadsheet in accordance with the prioritization scheme designed by ITRC advisory staff.

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DATE SUBMITTED: 01/21/03

SHORT TITLE: EPA Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO) Website

SUBMITTED TO: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

OFFICE PREPARING: Office of Compliance and Enforcement

STAFF CONTACT: Carol Batterton

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS: The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality(TCEQ) commends EPA for undertaking and completing a project of this magnitude. We have appreciated EPA's efforts to involve the state's data stewards and EPA's responsiveness to state comments and concerns during the development process. TCEQ's primary concern is ensuring accuracy of data in ECHO and ensuring the user's ability to understand and appropriately interpret the information. We believe that making this information easily available and understandable to the public will reduce staff time for responding to requests for information. We encourage EPA to continue to emphasize that the information provided in ECHO is merely a snapshot of a facility's compliance status and does not necessarily reflect the complete compliance history of a facility.

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