As we come to the end of another year, we look back on the progress that has been made to improve Texas’ air quality. Our work is especially important in Texas. Ozone pollution in the state’s largest cities routinely spikes above healthy levels, and Texas leads the nation in annual carbon emissions.
Throughout 2013, my fellow bloggers and I tracked the critical progress made towards cleaner air in Texas. Texas experienced a handful of victories and a handful of losses. To summarize the year, I’ll discuss a few of the areas where we made progress, and a few of the areas where there is still more work to do.
Progress Toward Smart Power and Clean Air
Over the past year, Texas wind power continued its promising positive trend, thanks in part to the state’s forward-looking decision to build new high-capacity electricity transmission lines linking the windy plains of West Texas with the state’s cities. The Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) transmission project was approved by the state in 2008, and the new power lines are set to come online in a few weeks. The new power lines can carry 18,500 megawatts of electricity—enough to power millions of homes. The CREZ lines will help ensure Texas wind energy continues to expand, offsetting electricity produced from fossil-fuel power plants and reducing pollution. Read More
Posted in Air Pollution, Clean Car Standards, Climate Change, Dallas Fort-Worth, Environmental Protection Agency, Houston, Ozone, Renewable Energy, Wind
Also tagged Competitive Renewable Energy Zone, CREZ, Tier 3
Para un breve resumen de la crítica de Texas contra CSAPR en español, haga clic aquí.
Today the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit heard arguments over two critically important clean air protections – the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule and the Standards for Mercury and Air Toxics. Texas has fought tooth and nail against both of these major pollution protections – protections that together have been estimated to prevent up to 45,000 deaths, 19,700 heart attacks and 530,000 asthma attacks.
Why are These Rules Important to Texas?
Air pollution from Texas' coal plants is, like many things in Texas, giant sized. Texas power plants collectively are the nation’s largest emitter of nitrogen oxides (NOx), and the second largest emitter of sulfur dioxide (SO2). Both pollutants are components of smog and are harmful to human health.
The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSPAR), which applies to the eastern U.S, is of particular interest to Texas, not only because it helps control emissions within the state, but also because it helps protect the state from air pollution blowing in from neighboring states. CSAPR provides for upwind states to be good neighbors and protect downwind communities from harmful particulate matter and smog-forming pollution discharged from power plant smokestacks. Read More
This blog post was co-written by Adrian Shelley, Executive Director of Air Alliance Houston.
Source: National Geographic
Last week, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) held its only public hearing regarding the agency’s proposed plan to take over greenhouse gas (GHG) permitting authority from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Neither the TCEQ commissioners nor the executive director attended the hearing.
TCEQ’s move to issue GHG permits is quite a departure from the extensive actions the Texas government has taken NOT to regulate greenhouse gases in the state. In fact, in a letter dated August 2, 2010 to then EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and TCEQ Chairman Bryan Shaw used aggressive and robust language, declaring that:
“On behalf of the State of Texas, we write to inform you that Texas has neither the authority nor the intention of interpreting, ignoring, or amending its laws in order to compel the permitting of greenhouse gas emissions.” Read More
Today Texas Congressmen Joe Barton and John Carter along with a number of members of the Texas Legislature, Chairman Bryan Shaw (TCEQ) and others stood up for pollution. They announced their intent to prevent actions by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from enforcing the Clean Air Act to protect public health. They relied on tired arguments and misrepresented statistics to paint a picture of doom for Texas industry.
Congressmen John Carter went as far to say that those who question the quality of Texas air “don’t think much of Texas.” Well I resent that remark, I was born and baptized in Ft. Worth, attended Texas Christian University and have lived in Texas for 33 consecutive years. Real Texans care about our state’s future and wouldn’t try to gut protections that save lives and create jobs in clean energy.
We have a multi-billion dollar state budget shortfall and have yet to pass a federal budget for a fiscal year we are already in, yet two Congressmen, multiple members of the Texas Legislature as well as two state agency commissioners feel it necessary to waste time debating the merits of a regulation that most Texas companies are already willing to follow.
The EPA warned the State of Texas that the Flexible Permit Program implemented by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) did not meet federal standards for almost a decade. After a lot of grandstanding and political posturing last year, 71 of the 74 companies holding flexible permits in the State of Texas have agreed to meet EPA regulations. It seems that industry is ahead of the politicians. Read More
Posted in Air Pollution, Environmental Protection Agency, GHGs, Ozone, Particulate Matter, TCEQ, Texas Permitting
Also tagged asthma, Clean Air, Clean Air Act, EPA, Governor Perry, particulate matter, Texas
Governor Perry has been promoting tort reform for quite some time. In fact, it has surfaced that legislation may be introduced to the Texas Legislature that would establish a “loser pays” system for lawsuits. In his state of the state address this year Perry said that Texas needs a system "in which those who sue and lose are required to pay the court costs and legal expenses of those they sued."
Is Governor Perry ready to follow his own rule?
Over the last year, the Governor, his appointees at the TCEQ and Attorney General Abbott have spent tremendous resources fighting the Environmental Protection Agency on Flex Permitting and greenhouse gas rule implementation and to no avail. In fact, the various suits and maneuvers by Perry and Abbott to block enforcement of the EPA’s GHG rule were rejected not once, but four times by more than one court. Their actions are the legal equivalent to doctor-shopping.
Despite rhetoric from Perry and Abbott, there can be no confusion about the EPA’s actions on the greenhouse gas rule. They are acting on the authority of a 40 year-old law and a directive from the Supreme Court.
While the Governor and Attorney General have the luxury of some free help from Exxon’s Lawyers, Texas taxpayers make up the difference and pay the full bill as the EPA and Federal Courts spend their limited resources wading through politically motivated lawsuits from Perry and Abbott in the name of polluters.
While I do not wish to wade into the debate on the merits of tort reform, I cannot help but wonder if Governor Perry would so readily support “loser pays” if his political whims were held to the same standard. Maybe we should be asking him if he will guarantee to pay the taxpayers back for the costs of these lawsuits he has lost thus far and will likely lose again going forward.
In Abbott’s recent letter to President Obama, Harry Reid, and John Boehner, he calls on Obama “to end job-killing regulations and rescind the EPA rules that Texas has challenged.” He opens with a history of the GHG issue that starts in December of 2009, and goes on to talk about the “flawed regulations issued by EPA based on its misguided claim of authority,” neglecting to mention a Supreme Court ruling in 2007 and more work done by the EPA during previous administrations.
Notwithstanding Abbott’s lack of historical context on GHG regulation, let’s review the arguments that Texas has stated for challenging these regulations, as well as why those arguments fail to make sense:
Argument: The Clean Air Act, passed by and amended by two Republican presidents to protect the health and safety of Americans, should not be used to address emissions that cause global warming.
Why the argument fails: The Massachusetts v. EPA Supreme Court decision (that is almost four years old, and authored by conservative jurist Anthony Kennedy,) requires the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, unless the federal agency determines that global warming poses no threat to the public welfare. Read More
It’s that time of year again – to commit to a new year’s resolution so that you might improve yourself in 2011. As you come up with your own, tell us what they are and help inspire our Governor and Attorney General to commit to their own New Year’s Resolution.
With a multi-billion dollar budget shortfall, we think it’s high time that Governor Perry and Attorney General Abbott commit to spending less tax payer money to fund frivolous lawsuits to help our state’s major polluters.
Over the last year they have filed countless motions and suits in federal court aimed at circumventing federal laws that would require Texas to follow the same basic air quality standards followed by all the other 49 states. After their loss yesterday, we think it’s time they gave up.
I think Texas is special myself, but it is because of that belief that I think we should do everything possible to make sure Texans are breathing clean air and that we are preserving our environment for future generations.
Join us in asking the Governor and Attorney General to give up the frivolous law suits in 2011! Save taxpayer money and the environment!
After all it was the Governor himself who has committed to stemming the flow of frivolous lawsuits.
Email the Governor Your Resolution and Tell Him To Commit To No Lawsuits For Polluters in 2011.
Email the Attorney Your Resolution and Tell Him To Commit To No Lawsuits For Polluters in 2011.
Send us a message on Twitter with the hashtag #CleanAir2011