On February 13, 2018 the TCEQ held a public forum at the Portland Community Center to discuss air quality issues in San Patricio County. While the meeting was specifically in response to recent industrial growth and an uptick in public interest in San Patricio County, the content of the meeting can shed light on overarching themes across all areas where industry is present.
The meeting was attended by ~100 area residents and ~15 TCEQ representatives. TCEQ prepared three presentations before opening the floor for a question and answer session. The following topics were covered in the TCEQ's prepared presentations.
- Participating in the Environmental Permitting Process
- Air Quality & Permitting Overview
- Complaints & Citizen Collected Evidence
TCEQ aimed to educate the public on the air permitting process, how the air permitting process is protective of public health and welfare, and the appropriate ways for the public to be involved. Each of the presentations can be found here.
After the presentations, the TCEQ provided an opportunity for the public to ask specific questions on air permitting. Questions from the public touched on each of the presentation topics as the public strove to gain further understanding of the air permitting process (no easy task to explain in three short presentations). The questions mainly focused on air quality monitoring (site selection and allocation of permanent monitors), air dispersion modeling, TCEQ enforcement / inspection procedures, and other permitting clarifications. For those intimately familiar with the air permitting process, the questions may have seemed simple, but for the general public the questions represented a superficial understanding of the air permitting process and a passionate public opposition to industry for fear of environmental degradation and regardless of the other benefits industry brings to an area.
So the next time your facility is going through the air permitting process, how can you be certain you're ready to navigate the public participation process? The key is to understand the public participation process and how it can affect the scope and timeline for permit issuance; then plan in advance and accordingly. The air permitting process has been developed to balance the importance of industrial growth with the necessity of protecting public health and welfare and public participation is an integral part of that process. As long as your facility satisfies the requirements of the air permitting process, the likelihood of receiving an air permit is very high.
The impacts of public participation therefore, are most often felt on the overall air permitting schedule as each comment has to be addressed before a permit may be issued. Therefore, proper schedule planning and anticipation of potential comments are vital to ensuring a smooth air permitting process. As experts in environmental consulting, Trinity has helped countless clients both develop thoughtful air permitting strategies that incorporate the anticipation of potential public comments and respond to the comments promptly and appropriately if and when they are received. These experiences and foresights can help to mitigate problems before they even occur.
For assistance with your air permitting needs, contact the Trinity office nearest you by calling (800) 229-6655 for more information.