On Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit dismissed lawsuits filed by Attorney General Greg Abbott and a group of power companies that could have undermined the Clean Air Act and hurt efforts to reduce climate pollution.
The Clean Air Act requires that large sources of pollution, including greenhouse gases (GHGs), obtain permits when they are constructing or making a major change to their facility. These permits require facilities to use modern emission control technologies to cost-effectively reduce their pollution.
Some states, including Texas, didn’t have the authority to issue these clean air permits for greenhouse gases under their state laws, so the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took the limited actions challenged here to ensure that sources in these states could get the permits they needed to begin construction. Every state – except Texas – worked with EPA to make sure sources could get the permits they needed (either under state or federal authority).
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who has been quoted as saying, “What I really do for fun is I go into the office, [and] I sue the Obama administration,” took the EPA to court over the agency’s efforts to ensure sources in Texas could get the permits they needed to construct. All of this despite the fact that most facilities in Texas were already working to reduce their emissions and comply with the new federal standards. On Friday, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals reaffirmed that the Clean Air Act unambiguously requires large GHG sources, like coal-fired power plants, to obtain permits. As a result, the court dismissed Texas’ lawsuit, finding that EPA’s actions didn’t cause Texas any injury. Much to the contrary, they were necessary to ensure GHG sources could obtain permits that they otherwise could not obtain at all.
Friday’s decision comes as a resounding victory for Texans who care about common-sense actions to address our out-of-control carbon emissions and combat global warming. Instead of wasting taxpayer dollars to boost its reputation for clashing with the federal government (1.25 million dollars spent so far), Texas should invest in its world-class wind and solar energy resources, and work to maintain its leadership in the implementation of modern grid technologies. By doing so, we can ensure Texas’ leadership in the new American energy economy and protect Texas communities from the debilitating impacts and soaring costs of the extreme weather linked to climate change.