Legislation filed by Rep. Allan Ritter (R-Nederland) and Sen. Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay), would streamline TCEQ’s environmental permitting process. Under HB 2082 and SB 957, interested persons who commented on a proposed environmental permit or participated in a public hearing on the permit application would be entitled to request an administrative review of the permit decision within 30 days of the decision. A person who did not submit comments or participate in the hearing would be limited to request review only with respect to changes in the draft rule. The review would be conducted by the State Office of Administrative Hearings. The bill requires SOAH to grant or deny the petition no later than 60 days after receiving it. If SOAH remands any or all of the permit back to the TCEQ, it must either modify or decline to modify the permit within 30 days. Judicial review is to the 3rd Court of Appeals District in Austin either under an arbitrary and capricious standard.
The bill further limits the time in which the executive director must determine if an application is administratively complete to 30 days, specifies the duration of the public comment period, limits the executive director’s response to comments raised at a public hearing to matters substantially related to the permit, allows the executive director to issue a final permit in an uncontested matter, and requires the commission to issue a final permit within 30 days of receiving the ED’s draft permit.