TCEQ Chairman Plans Meeting With New EPA Regional Chief

Bryan Shaw, the chairman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, said he has already had two "productive" telephone calls with Ron Curry, the new regional head of the Environmental Protection Agency, and said he never got ever that far with the previous chief.

Speaking at an environmental law conference in Austin this week, Shaw said that the two had agreed to improve communication and would meet in person later this month or early in November.

“I had two more productive conversations with him than I had with the previous administrator,” Shaw said at a panel discussion of Texas versus the EPA at the Environment, Energy, and Resources Law Summit of the American Bar Association.

Curry, a former New Mexico environmental regulator, took over as the Dallas-based Region 6 Administrator for the EPA on September 24. His predecessor, Al Armendariz, resigned in the spring after comparing his enforcement policy for oil and gas to the way ancient Romans would “crucify” Turks. 

Asked by David Smith, the panel moderator and an Austin-based lawyer with Graves Dougherty Hearon & Moody, whether he was cautiously optimistic about the TCEQ-EPA relationship, Shaw replied: “I’m cautiously optimistic. I am a glass half-full kind of guy.”

The EPA and Texas have had an adversarial relationship, with the state suing the EPA over numerous regulations — sometimes successfully, as in a federal court’s recent strike-down of the cross-state air pollution rule, and sometimes not, in the case of greenhouse gases.

The ABA panel covered the Texas versus EPA disputes, and deep and predictable disagreements emerged between Shaw and another panelist, Vickie Patton, the general counsel for the Environmental Defense Fund. Patton argued that Texas’ rhetoric opposing the EPA was overheated and sometimes amounted to a “tirade”; Shaw insisted that the EPA needed better science behind its rules and should allow Texas more flexibility in devising methods to meet federal standards.

In a discussion of pollutants, Shaw also argued for the benefits of “incentivizing….energy efficiency,” as a means of reducing pollution and improving technology.