"A group of Texas refineries, chemical makers and power plants have agreed to seek new air pollution permits, marking a setback for state regulators defending an air pollution program popular with business.
The decision by the 136 companies signals their concern over possible enforcement penalties from the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA said in September that it would consider penalties against firms that didn’t resolve problems with Texas-issued “flexible permits”.
“Rather than fighting us about their facilities in enforcement cases and getting involved in a lot of plant-by-plant litigation, these facilities have agreed to apply for permits that will comply,” said EPA Regional Administrator Al Armendariz, who announced the agreements Tuesday.
The EPA trumpeted the decision on the same day the House Appropriations Committee approved a bill, 28-18, that sets 2012 funding levels for the EPA and would block the agency’s ability to take enforcement action against businesses with flexible permits. It’s unclear whether the provision could gain approval in the Democratic-controlled Senate."