Anti-regulation politics affects the energy industry in Texas

Feb 11, 2014

A natural gas compressor station located near La Grange, Texas.
Credit Spencer Selvidge / Texas Tribune

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the state agency responsible for issuing permits for greenhouse gas emissions in the state, has refused to issue the permits until recently, leaving industry in the state in a difficult position.

Texas's stance left responsibility for issuing the permits with the Environmental Protection Agency, which has quite a backlog of permit applications and complaints.

Thanks to the backlog, various industrial facilities have waited over a year for the EPA to issue the greenhouse gas emissions permits that are necessary to begin construction.

Environmental advocates say these delays in getting permits are an example of how Texas' stance against climate change regulations could actually hurt big business in the state. Lawyers for the oil and gas companies say it would have been difficult for Texas to follow the rules it challenged in court, according to a Texas Tribune article.

Last year, Texas lawmakers directed the TCEQ to follow federal regulations and issue permits, but the agency needs time to implement its own rules and begin permitting.

Facilities that process or compress natural gas for pipelines are waiting for permits, along with power generating stations and chemical plants, have been delayed in getting permits as a result of the political wrangling.

As a result of the undeveloped natural gas infrastructure, which awaits greenhouse gas permit approval, drillers are venting, or flaring, excess natural gas, a process of burning which emits toxic chemicals.