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EPA Approves TCEQ Authorization of NPDES Program for Oil and Gas Discharges

On January 15, 2021, the EPA announced approval of Texas’ request to administer the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program for discharges from produced water, hydrostatic test water and gas plant effluent or oil and gas discharges within the state of Texas. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) will take over responsibility of permitting authority for the discharges of oil and gas activities, pipelines, and natural gas processing plants formerly under the jurisdiction of the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC).

The Addendum to the Memorandum of Agreement (between the TCEQ and EPA, Region 6 is available on the EPA website and outlines responsibility to the TCEQ for implementation of the NPDES system and permitting, compliance monitoring, enforcement activities, pretreatment activities, and sewage sludge program activities. This authority applies on land within the state and extends 3.0 statute miles offshore into the Gulf of Mexico. TCEQ does not have NPDES authority for discharges located on federally established American Indian reservations.

One of the most important goals for transference of program authority to Texas is to promote and facilitate the consolidation of federal and state permits into one Texas Pollutant Discharge System (TPDES) permit.

Transfer of Oil and Gas Permitting Authority (as summarized by the RRC):
New Individual Permit Applications:

The TCEQ is responsible for all permit applications for new TPDES oil and gas permits received on or after the date of program authorization (January 15, 2021)

Pending Individual Permit Applications:

If an individual NDPES permit application is pending on January 15, 2021, the TCEQ will complete the permitting process for these pending applications and either issue a TPDES permit or deny the application request.

If an individual NPDES oil and gas individual permit has a pending variance request or amendment/modification request or for which a permit appeal is pending on January 15, 2021, it will remain under EPA jurisdiction. Permitting authority for these permits will transfer to the TCEQ upon final resolution of the pending variance or modification.

Effective (Active) Individual Permits:

NDPES permits issued by the EPA shall remain effective until expiration, amendment/modification, or renewal as TPDES permits. The TCEQ will process permit applications for renewal or amendment if they are received after January 15, 2021. When the TCEQ issues a renewed or amended permit, the TPDES permit will replace both the RRC and EPA-issued permits.

Effective (Active) General Permits:

TCEQ has permitting authority for NDPES oil and gas general permits, including permits that are administratively continued under 40 CFR § 122.6. The TCEQ has identified the following EPA-issued general permits that authorize oil and gas discharges that are administratively continued:

  • NPDES General Permit Numbers TXG330000 and TXG260000.

The TCEQ will complete the general permit development process for these permits and either issue a TPDES general permit or suspend general permit development and require permittees to apply for a TPDES individual permit.

Click here for TCEQ recommendations before applying for an individual permit, as well as more information on the permit process. For more information on this change or for assistance with your TPDES permit application, please reach out to speak to one of our environmental consultants.