Texas Environmental, Health, and Safety Audit Privilege Act

Both the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRCTX) have promulgated Regulatory Guidance (RG) Document RG-175

Under the Texas Environmental, Health, and Safety Audit Privilege Act (“Audit Act”), TEX. CIV. STAT. art. 4447cc, persons that conduct voluntary environmental or health and safety audits of regulated facilities and operations can claim immunity from administrative penalties for violations discovered, disclosed, and corrected within a reasonable amount of time. The Audit Act also provides a limited privilege for audit reports developed in accordance with the Audit Act. An audit that qualifies for protection under the Audit Act is defined as “a systematic voluntary evaluation, review, or assessment of compliance with environmental or health and safety laws or with any permit issued under an environmental health and safety law conducted by an owner or operator.”

There are three types of documents a person may submit to the Commission under the Audit Act:
(1) a notice of audit (NOA) letter;
(2) a disclosure of violations (DOV) letter; and
(3) a request for an extension (RFE);

TCEQ Submission:

A Notice of Audit (NOA) is the letter a person submits to the TCEQ before beginning an environmental audit. Although the person is not required to give this notice to the TCEQ, the person cannot take advantage of the immunity provision of the Audit Act if it fails to give proper notice to the TCEQ that it is planning to commence an environmental audit. When drafting an NOA for submission, review the TCEQ’s Central Registry database to ensure that you have identified the appropriate CN and RN for your audit. While a person is not required to obtain a RN for a site, the person cannot receive compliance history benefits for conducting an environmental audit without a CN and RN; however, the person may be eligible for immunity. If a CN or RN is not present for the location you are auditing or the information in Central Registry is incorrect, you should complete a Core Data Form and submit it with your NOA.

RRCTX Submission:

All submissions to the Commission pursuant to the Audit Act should be addressed to the General Counsel, Office of General Counsel, Railroad Commission of Texas, 1701 N. Congress Avenue, Austin, Texas 78711-2967. A disclosure of violations letter (discussed below on page 3) must be sent to the General Counsel by certified mail, but all other hard copy submissions may be sent by regular mail or courier. The Commission requests that a courtesy copy of any and all submissions be emailed to the Commission’s General Counsel at audit.notice@rrc.texas.gov .

As a result of an environmental compliance audit, the following items may follow:
• Resolution and/or reduction of existing violation fines
• Assistance in set up and maintenance of an EHS audit program
• Sampling, analysis, and Agency reporting and recordkeeping
• Follow-up Environmental Permitting
• Regular Inspections and Recordkeeping Reviews
• Follow-up Environmental, and Health and Safety Inspections and Recordkeeping Reviews

Environmental Tips

If you operate a facility that is regulated under the jurisdiction of the TCEQ or the Railroad Commission of Texas environmental compliance regulations, then you must maintain the necessary permits, records, and sampling and analysis as required. Contact CRG Texas if you need assistance or a complete Environmental Compliance Audit.