Today marks the second in a series of clean air court victories that are nothing less than triumphant for air quality and health in Texas. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today in favor of Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), a clean air standard that will protect the health of Americans across 28 Eastern states, including Texas, from the harmful air pollution emitted by distant power plants that moves across state borders. For Texas, the nation’s number one emitter of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and the number two emitter of sulfur dioxide (SO2), these vital clean air protections will safeguard the health of our children and elderly and revoke the coal industry’s free license to pollute without limitation, shielding neighboring states from lethal particulate matter and smog-forming pollution. Not to mention, today’s decision (once again) proves that Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s crusade to dismantle EPA’s common sense standards is fruitless, wastes taxpayer’s dollars, and jeopardizes the public health of all Texans.
Much like the life-saving Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), upheld earlier this month by the U.S. Court of Appeals, CSAPR will reduce sulfur dioxide levels from power plants in eastern power plants by 73% and nitrogen oxide levels by 54% from 2005 levels. The emissions reductions from CSAPR alone will save up to 1,704 lives in Texas and provide the state with $5.8 to $14 billion annually in health benefits starting in 2014. Despite these substantial health benefits, the State of Texas challenged the rule to prevent a handful of coal plants from switching to low-sulfur coal, increasing scrubber efficiency, or installing readily-available pollution-control technology. Read More
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. Read More
Posted in Air Pollution, Clean Air Act, Climate Change, Coal, Environment, Environmental Protection Agency, GHGs, Renewable Energy, Texas Permitting Also tagged Clean Air Act, EPA, GHGs