Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

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Headquarters complex for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) is the environmental agency for the state of Texas. The commission's headquarters are located at 12100 Park 35 Circle in Austin. The fourth largest environmental agency in the United States (behind the USEPA, the California EPA, and the New York DEC), it employs approximately 2,760 employees, has 16 regional offices, and has a $342 million operating budget for the 2013 fiscal year.[1]

Commissioners[edit]

Bryan W. Shaw, Ph.D., Chairman

Toby Baker, Commissioner

Zak Covar, Commissioner

The TCEQ has three full-time commissioners, who are appointed by the governor, to establish overall agency direction and policy, and to make final determinations on contested permitting and enforcement matters. The commissioners are appointed for six-year terms with the advice and consent of the Texas Senate. A commissioner may not serve more than two six-year terms, and the terms are staggered so that a different member’s term expires every two years. The governor also names the chairman of the commission.[2]

Mission Statement[edit]

"The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality strives to protect our state's public health and natural resources consistent with sustainable economic development. Our goal is clean air, clean water, and the safe management of waste."

History[edit]

The history of natural resource protection by the State of Texas is one of gradual evolution from protecting the right of access to natural resources (principally surface water) to a broader role in protecting public health and conserving natural resources for future generations of Texans.

Natural resource programs were established in Texas at the turn of the 20th century, motivated initially by concerns over the management of water resources and water rights. In parallel with developments in the rest of the nation, and at the federal level, state natural resource efforts broadened at mid-century to include the protection of air and water resources, and later to the regulation of hazardous and non-hazardous waste generation.

During the 1990s, the Texas Legislature moved to make natural resource protection more efficient by consolidating programs. This trend culminated in the creation of the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission in the fall of 1993 as a comprehensive environmental protection agency. Sunset legislation passed by the Texas Legislature in 2001 continued the agency until 2013 and changed its name to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. During the special session of the 81st Legislature (2009), legislation was adopted amending the 2013 date to 2011.[3]

Office of Air[edit]

Oversees all air permitting activities. The office also implements plans to protect and restore air quality in cooperation with local, regional, state, and federal stakeholders, and tracks progress toward environmental goals, adapting plans as necessary.

The Air Permits Division processes air permits and authorizations for facilities that, when operational, would emit contaminants into the atmosphere. The division does this through two major air permitting programs, New Source Review (NSR) Permits and Title V Federal Operating Permits.

The Air Quality Division works to protect and restore air quality through four programs: Air Implementation Grants, Air Industrial Emissions Assessment, Air Modeling and Data Analysis, and Air Quality Planning. [4]

Office of Water[edit]

Oversees all aspects of planning, permitting, and monitoring to protect the state's water resources. The Office of Water is responsible for the implementation of the following major programs:

  • Public Drinking Water
  • Water Rights
  • Interstate River Compacts
  • Watermaster
  • Districts and Utilities
  • Groundwater Protection
  • Texas Surface Water Quality Standards
  • Nonpoint Source Program
  • Wastewater, Storm Water, and Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation Permitting
  • Surface Water Quality Monitoring
  • Watershed Protection Plans and Total Maximum Daily Loads
  • Galveston Bay Estuary Program [5]

Office of Waste[edit]

Implements federal and state laws related to the regulation of aboveground and underground petroleum storage tanks, generation, treatment, storage, and disposal of municipal, industrial, low-level radioactive, and hazardous wastes; and the recovery and processing of uranium and disposal of byproduct. It also oversees state cleanup of contaminated sites.[6]

Office of Compliance and Enforcement[edit]

Enforces compliance with the state’s environmental laws, responds to emergencies and natural disasters that threaten human health and the environment, oversees dam safety, and monitors air quality within Texas. In addition, the office oversees the operations of 16 regional offices and one special-project office across the state. [7]

Take Care of Texas[edit]

The agency also spearheads Take Care of Texas, a personal responsibility campaign to help Texans decrease their impact on the environment.[8] In June, 2013 country recording artist Kevin Fowler teamed up with the agency to produce a public service announcement that promotes outdoor recreation in Texas and encourages protection of the state's natural resources.[9]

References[edit]

External links[edit]