On September 29, 2010, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality issued the air quality permit for the White Stallion Energy Center. The decision culminated a two-year process that began even before White Stallion filed its extensive permit application in September of 2008.
After technical review and approval by the TCEQ Executive Director in February 2009, which included several opportunities for public review and comment, White Stallion asked the Commission to send its application to the State Office of Administrative Hearings for an additional review process—a contested case hearing by Administrative Law Judges. That hearing process, much like a trial proceeding, allows the parties to the case to present and cross-examine witnesses under oath, and present information in accordance with legal rules governing proper evidence. Several national groups, including the Sierra Club and Environmental Defense Fund, intervened in that case through legal counsel, along with a locally organized group called No Coal Coalition. After conclusion of that hearing process in February and substantial legal briefing, the assigned Judges issues their proposal for decision in July 2010. At its September 29 hearing, the TCEQ Commissioners voted 3-0 to issue the permit, in the process addressing and ultimately dismissing the minor objections identified by the Administrative Law Judges. The decision means that the permit as recommended by the TCEQ Executive Director will be issued, with a few limits on “particulate matter” emissions slightly tightened to reflect marginal improvements in emission rate guarantees.
Among the conclusions resulting from this process are the following, as expressed in the order approved by the Commission:
- [Sierra Club’s] photochemical modeling analysis determined that the maximum incremental impact attributable to the WSEC’s emissions at any regulatory monitor in the Houston area was 0.074 ppb, which would be undetectable….The WSEC’s emissions will not cause or contribute to an exceedance of the ozone NAAQS.
- The WSEC’s emissions will not cause or contribute to air pollution in violation of any NAAQS in any air quality control region, or any applicable maximum allowable increase over the baseline concentration in any area.
- The WSEC will utilize [Maximum Achievable Control Technology] to control emissions from the CFB boilers.
- White Stallion has made all demonstrations required under applicable statutes and regulations…to be issued an air quality permit with PSD review.