On Tuesday, for the first time in any state, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency seized control of Texas' jurisdiction over granting a clean air permit. The takeover affects one key operating permit governing Flint Hills Resources' crude oil refinery in the Corpus Christi area (to which the EPA formally objected in December), but it sends a powerful message that Texas must comply with federal law. EPA Region 6 Administrator Al Armendariz said the EPA is prepared to take control of Texas' entire air-permitting system because it violates the Clean Air Act, if TCEQ doesn't immediately begin requiring Texas air-quality permits that are federally sufficient. "If the state agency is unwilling or unable to issue those permits, the EPA must and will do so," he told The Dallas Morning News on Tuesday. Armendariz says the EPA will begin issuing its own permits for several plants for which it has filed formal objections; those include facilities owned by Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and Dow Chemical Co. "The time for delay and for partnership and for compromise is very quickly coming to an end," Armendariz said. "We have to get the Clean Air Act implemented in the state of Texas."
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