EPA’s Scott Pruitt pushing to streamline air permit approval process

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt wants to shorten the time it takes for oil refineries, chemical plants and other industrial facilities to receive permits. While he sees the process as convoluted, Air Alliance Houston believes it’s necessary to protect public health and the environment. These permits are complicated and cannot be rushed.

Pruitt shared the goal to process air permit applications in no more than 6 months, with the purpose being to speed up and overhaul the permit approval process. This is the latest reckless step by Pruitt to allow companies to pollute more. The change would affect the Houston area, particularly the network of chemical plants, oil refineries and other industry polluters that line the 50-mile-long Houston Ship Channel. Many industry members know this area as the petrochemical capital of the world. Pruitt’s proposal would speed up the permit approval process, allowing facilities to emit even more pollution in area with some of the worst air quality in the country, with a less thorough review and regulation process. Currently, those seeking to expand or build new plants often spend more than a year going through the permit process with state environmental agencies to follow in line with the Clean Air Act’s requirements.

Many industry members would likely support the streamlined approval process, as the current process often takes more than a year for facilities to gain approval to receive air permits and begin new projects. Air Alliance Houston, however, urges the EPA to uphold the stricter regulations and prioritize human health and safety over profits. Our organization will continue to work to address and spread awareness about the harmful air pollutants affecting the lives of Houstonians today.