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Abbott lifts post-Harvey suspension of environmental regulations

April 6, 2018

Houston Chronicle
By Alex Stuckey

Gov. Greg Abbott’s office on Thursday lifted the suspension of environmental regulations put in place almost seven months ago as Hurricane Harvey bore down on Texas.

On Aug. 28, three days after Harvey began pummeling the Houston area, Abbott suspended many environmental regulations relating to air pollution, wastewater and fuel standards for vehicles.

The governor’s Harvey disaster declaration suspended environmental reporting and record-keeping rules as well as liability for unauthorized emissions for the duration of the disaster declaration, an order most recently renewed on March 16. A spokesman for the state environmental agency said the suspensions apply only when rules would hinder disaster response.

Photo: Elizabeth Conley, Staff / Houston Chronicle Shell Deer Park refinery is one of the plants that reported major pollution releases during and after Hurricane Harvey.

But on Thursday, James Person, assistant general counsel in the governor’s office, sent a letter to the TCEQ agreeing with them that it was time to lift the suspension.

“The TCEQ now asserts that the suspension is no longer necessary,” Person wrote. “Based on the TCEQ’s assertion and our office’s review, the Office of the Governor hereby grants TCEQ’s request to terminate the temporary suspension of those rules.”

The Chronicle obtained a copy of the letter late Thursday night. TCEQ could not immediately be reached for comment and it’s not clear when TCEQ asked for the suspension to be lifted.


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