The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) enacts rules to carry out the powers assigned by the state legislature and as directed by the EPA. Many draft rules or permits are posted for public comment, and the agency has some discretion about how the language in a rule is written. Other times, a rule or permit is created because the TCEQ is the delegated authority for carrying out the function of the EPA in Texas. In some instances, the rule must be adopted as written at the federal level. Permits are issued to authorize activities affecting the environment. Air and water quality ambient conditions are monitored as well as those conditions associated with investigations or incidents. Investigations may be routine or result from a complaint. Enforcement process requires compliance and may include an agreed order and financial penalty. Emergency Response duties are common for investigators. The TCEQ Strike Team and others respond to spills, accidental releases, and natural disasters. When you hear about train derailments, hurricanes, and other not-so-fun events, you can be sure that these folks are also on the scene.
Most people who interact with the TCEQ are familiar with agency staff who work in permitting, inspection, or enforcement. What started as a solitary position of ombudsman is now the Small Business and Environmental Assistance (SBEA) division. Illustration is an organizational chart of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) with three divisions highlighted including Office of Compliance and Enforcement (OCE), Office of Permitting and Registration (OPR), and Small Business & Environmental Assistance (SBEA).
SBEA has at least one staff member in all of the 16 TCEQ regional offices with the exception of Region 8 in San Angelo. In the large, metropolitan areas, there may be two or three people who can assist with compliance or pollution prevention issues. Illustration is a map of Texas outlining the sixteen different regions of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).
The Small Business and Local Government Assistance (SBLGA) program provides confidential technical assistance without the threat of enforcement.
SBLGA customers are business & industry and local governments. We know that environmental rules can be confusing and there may not be a dedicated environmental person on staff. We also work with other parts of the agency and other agencies to look out for the interests of our customers. For example, investigators reviewed the PST super guide for us. We also participate on Rule Teams that may affect our customers.
We consider a small business to be less than 100 employees. We can still assist larger companies, however, they are not eligible for certain programs.
Environmental rules can be confusing, and many small organizations do not have resources to hire a dedicated environmental staff person. SBLGA customers are commercial and industrial facilities as well as and local governments. We will try to help anyone get the answers they need.
We focus more of our energies on assisting smaller businesses and local governments, because they are less likely to have the resources necessary to address environmental concerns.
This is a list of some of SBLGA’s programs and activities. We’ll get into more detail about each program shortly, but we want you to see that we are available to our customers through a variety of avenues. In some circumstances, we may be able to provide you with a third-party to help you at your site! The Compliance Commitment (C2) program, offers a site visit from a trained contractor to review environmental issues with you. They’ll look at records and perform a complete environmental evaluation, following a checklist we created. A report which explaining any problems or potential problems will be mailed to you. Regional staff are here to help you correct any of the problems that may have been discovered. Not all industries qualify for the C2 program, so call your regional SBLGA person to see if your business qualifies.
We have a toll free number you can call and talk to someone live, each day the agency is open. If you get the voicemail, leave a message and your call will be returned that day if possible, or the next business day. We have a website www.TexasEnviroHelp.org that we believe is very easy to use. On the site you’ll see industry specific links that have all the information in one place. You can also come visit our staff in their office or ask them to visit you. It’s best that you call ahead to set up an appointment to make certain that you both have the necessary time allotted.
We have people in almost every region. The San Angelo Region gets support from surrounding regions; and other regions have multiple people.
100 employees or less….. Sometimes you just need someone who can guide you through a certain process or situation. This program is one that we use when our customers need additional help. Consultants and others provide free assistance as a volunteers.
In certain regions of the state we have Small Business Advisory Committees. (Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Beaumont, and a similar one in San Antonio – SAMA) These committees provide an opportunities for SB and LG to 1) participate in the regulatory process, 2) Have issues heard by the agency, 3) Keep updated on happenings at TCEQ, and 4) Network with other SB and LG representatives. Anyone is welcome to attend the meetings.
Rural government entities face different challenges that the more metropolitan areas of the State. To help rural areas better understand regulations, we have a Rural Ombudsman, Jason Robinson. Jason acts as a liaison between the agency and the local government, helps explain some of the rules challenging these folks, and –most importantly- provides the unique perspective of “the other side of the fence” to the agency. Jason joined our group in August of 2010; previously, he was with the City of Ovilla (Ellis County) since 1998, and he worked his way up through positions of greater responsibility. He became the Director of Public Works in 2006. In that capacity, Jason was responsible for departmental budgets and environmental compliance so he is familiar with the impact the TCEQ can have on smaller entities.
The Advocate is one of the best ways to stay up-to-date with rule changes. Sign up to get it by giving us your name and address. You can also get it via email if you’d like. We print articles that are specific to small businesses and local governments, so that you know when something changes, before you are out of compliance. We also have other publications like the PST Superguide, which can help you understand the rules and regulations for petroleum storage tanks.
If you need to contact me directly, here is my contact information.
Once again, here’s our hotline number and our website.
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
LCRA Economic Development Forum December 16, 2011
<ul><li>Rulemaking is directed by legislature and EPA . </li></ul><ul><li>Permitting activities affecting the environment . </li></ul><ul><li>Monitoring air/water quality ambient and incident conditions . </li></ul><ul><li>Investigations are routine or result from complaints . </li></ul><ul><li>Enforcement until compliance is achieved . </li></ul><ul><li>Emergency Response to spills, releases, disasters </li></ul><ul><li>Outreach to local governments and industry to assist in compliance </li></ul>Roles of the TCEQ .
What Do We Regulate <ul><li>Solid Waste – Industrial & Municipal </li></ul><ul><li>Water – Drinking, Waste Water, & Stormwater </li></ul><ul><li>Air Emissions </li></ul>
SBLGA Programs Offer: <ul><ul><li>Technical Assistance </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>with understanding the rules and meeting requirements </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>One to One Help </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Compliance Tools </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Free & Confidential </li></ul></ul>
SBLGA Customers: <ul><li>Business & Industry </li></ul><ul><li>Local Governments </li></ul><ul><li>Associations </li></ul><ul><li>Other Agencies </li></ul><ul><li>Help For Smaller Entities </li></ul>
Small Business <ul><li>Any independently owned and operated company with 100 or fewer employees across all locations. </li></ul>
Small Local Government <ul><li>City of 50,000 or Fewer </li></ul><ul><li>County of 100,000 or Fewer </li></ul><ul><li>ISD with 100,000 or Fewer Students </li></ul>
SBLGA PROGRAMS <ul><li>Hotline </li></ul><ul><li>Compliance Commitment (C2) </li></ul><ul><li>EnviroMentor </li></ul><ul><li>Regional Staff </li></ul><ul><li>Advisory and Advocacy Groups </li></ul><ul><li>Advocate Newsletter </li></ul>
Getting Help <ul><li>Hotline </li></ul><ul><ul><li>1-800-447-2827 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>M-F 8:00am-5:00pm </li></ul></ul><ul><li>www.TexasEnviroHelp.org </li></ul><ul><li>Office & Site Visits </li></ul>
SBLGA: Local Staff Available <ul><li>This slide contains a graphic representation of the map of Texas with the TCEQ Regions identified. There are Small Business and Local Government Assistance specialists available in every region of the state. Toll-free hotline is 1-800-447-2827. </li></ul>
Advisory and Advocacy Groups <ul><li>Small Business Advisory Comittee (SBAC) </li></ul><ul><li>Compliance Advisory Panel (CAP) </li></ul><ul><li>Participate In: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Regulatory Process </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Public Comment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Local/State Planning </li></ul></ul>
Rural Ombudsman <ul><li>Liaison between TCEQ and Local Governments </li></ul><ul><li>Outreach and education </li></ul><ul><li>Partnership development </li></ul><ul><li>Provides Local Government perspective on TCEQ Rules and policy </li></ul><ul><li>Jason Robinson 512-239-6710 </li></ul>
Government Resources <ul><li>RG-220 Funding resources for water and waster water systems </li></ul><ul><li>RG-422 Public Water Supply for Local Governments </li></ul><ul><li>RG-455 Preventing Illegal Dumping </li></ul>
Small Business & Local Government Assistance <ul><li>Colin Barth </li></ul><ul><li>(512) 239-7015 </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul>