Find Your Fit

Starting November 1, 2022, the TCEQ will require that certain Air, Waste, Water, and Water Rights permits, and certain Registrations, complete a Public Involvement Plan (“PIP”) analysis.  The agency has posted a preliminary screening document, online at instructions-for-pip-form-tceq-20960.pdf (texas.gov), that an applicant can use to help determine the types of public outreach that may be required.

The intent of the PIP is to ensure meaningful public outreach by the TCEQ.  PIP evaluation requirements apply to:

  • Air Permits and Registrations
  • Waste Permits and Registrations
  • Water Quality Permits
  • Water Rights Permits

The preliminary screening for the types of air actions that need to be evaluated under the PIP include:

  • Initial New Source Review (“NSR”) Case-by-Case Permits
  • Initial Federal NSR Permits
  • Amendments to NSR Case-by-Case Permits
  • Initial Standard Permit Registrations
  • Initial Title V Permits

Certain types of activities can also trigger a PIP.  These include:

  • A new facility added to a permit
  • A new process added to a permit
  • Note: Increases in throughput, changes in hours of operation, or moving a facility are not considered to be new activities.

Secondary screenings include:

  • Actions that require public notice
  • Actions that are considered to have significant public interest
    • If the new permit or activity is for an industry which typically has significant public interest when located in the proposed area
    • If past permitting actions for this location received significant public interest
  • Facilities located within specific geographical areas (Metropolitan Statistical Areas, or “MSAs”).
    • Austin (Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown MSA)
    • San Antonio (San Antonio-New Braunfels-Pearsall MSA)
    • Dallas (Dallas-Fort Worth MSA)
    • West Texas (Midland-Odessa MSA and San Angelo MSA)
    • Fort Worth (Dallas-Fort Worth MSA)
    • Texas Panhandle (Amarillo-Pampa-Borger MSA)
    • Houston (Houston-The Woodlands MSA)
    • Along the Texas/Mexico Border (All counties along the Texas/Mexico border)
    • Other geographical areas (TCEQ may designate an area on a case-by-case basis)

If any of the above items do not apply, then an applicant can indicate that a PIP is not applicable and briefly describe which item does not apply and why.

If a PIP does apply, then:

There is also a requirement that a Plain Language Summary, which provides a brief description of the activity (activities) being permitted or registered, be included in the analysis.

Public Outreach Activities include:

  • Public Notice under Title 30 Texas Administrative Code (“30 TAC”) Chapter 39
  • Public meetings – could include an informal meeting, public hearing (not a contested case hearing), or notice and comment hearing

The PIP also includes the use of “Community and Demographic Information”.  The suggested tools to find this information include the Environmental Protection Agency’s (“EPA’s”) EJ Screen, United States Census Information, or other available demographic tools. This information is used to help determine whether alternative language notices are necessary.  If more than 5% of the population potentially affected by the application is Limited English Proficient, then the applicant is required to provide notice in the alternative language.

Finally, the TCEQ has also posted a “Public Involvement Plan Form for Permit and Registration Applications”.  This information can be found here:  pip-form-tceq-20960.pdf (texas.gov)

If you have any questions, please feel free reach out to the professionals at Spirit Environmental, and we’ll be glad to assist you.

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