Why The Latest Report From The Texas Public Policy Foundation Has No Foundation

Recently, the Texas Public Policy Foundation released a report titled: EPA’s Approaching Regulatory Avalanche:  “A Regulatory Spree Unprecedented in U.S. History”

(Source: www.parkercountyblog.com

Not only is the title of the report inflammatory and divisive, but the recommendations of the report suggest that Congress should gut the core foundations of primary clean air and clean water protections. Why?  According to Ms. White, “…the new rules have marginal, if indeed measurable at all, health benefits. Nor are they supported by credible science.”  Interestingly, Ms. White issues such statements in a report that fails to reference one single peer-reviewed piece of scientific evidence to support her claims that EPA rules do not have any health benefits.

It’s not surprising that Ms. White calls for an attack on protections legislated through the Clean Air Act (CAA). Texas facilities have proven to be some of the worst emitters in the entire country. While she was a commissioner at the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality, Ms. White consistently tried to override clean air and water protections by rubberstamping permits for facilities across the state and failing to provide proper enforcement for high profile violators such as ASARCO and Flint Hills Refinery.

While we could spend weeks picking apart Ms White’s misleading statements that riddle the report, we thought a more constructive way to respond to the misinformation provided is to highlight a few specific examples of the egregious claims and then tell the truth:

TPPF Claim #1:

EPA is picking on poor little ol’ Texas by placing an effective Federal Implementation Plan on Texas.

The truth is that Texas is an outlier among all the states.  Texas alone decided not to modify its permitting program to comply with the law.   

On, December 1, 2010, EPA released the State Implementation Plan (SIP) Call Rule for greenhouse gas emissions that flowed from the Supreme Court decision in Massachusetts v. EPA. In the SIP call, EPA found that Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permitting regulations in 13 states did not meet CAA requirements because their programs did not cover greenhouse gas emissions as regulated by the Supreme Court. EPA asked those states to change their laws and submit those changes as a part of a revised SIP for review and approval, and gave the states one year to change their laws.  Twelve states cooperated; Texas alone refused to cooperate with EPA’s efforts to apply greenhouse gas requirements in the PSD program.

In order to allow industry in Texas to be able to obtain legal permits, EPA was forced to issue a Federal Implementation Plan (FIP) and to take on the responsibility of issuing the PSD permits for stationary power plants, large factories and other industrial facilities.

EPA had no other choice – since Texas, and Texas alone, refused to take responsibility for granting these permits.

TPPF Claim #2:

Protecting clean air and water through the Cross State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) and the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) will lead to Armageddon with rolling blackouts and job losses.

  • Independent analyses confirm that industry can comply with MATS while maintaining the reliability of the electric system.
  • EPA’s analysis found adequate reserve margins for generation will be maintained and regional grid reliability will not be compromised.
  • EPA’s analysis has been confirmed by independent assessments of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, the Department of Energy, and the Congressional Research Service.
  • An Associated Press survey found that power companies expect to retire about 8 percent of generation to comply with the air toxics and CSAPR. The average age of the affected coal plants is 51 years and their profitability has been devastated in recent years by the low price of natural gas.
  • The adaptable compliance framework put forward by EPA provides a conservative, protective backstop to ensure that any local reliability concerns or specific compliance challenges can be addressed.

TPPF Claim #3:

Protecting clean air and water will cost too much. Plus, Texas has already solved our air quality problems.

We beg to differ. Bizarrely, Ms. White discredits one of her main arguments in the report, which is that these rules cost too much. The report states that “since 1970, aggregate emissions of the six criteria pollutants regulated under the CAA have decreased 53 percent. This environmental achievement occurred while the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased over 200 percent.”

If clean air and water are such devastating job killers, how does Ms. White reconcile the fact that Texas has been one of the fastest growing, most profitable states in the nation while air quality has improved?  Interestingly, Ms. White makes no mention of the fact that last year’s drought, almost certainly related to climate change, cost the state billions of dollars in loss.

It appears that Ms. White is blowing a bunch of smoke to try to confuse and scare Texans.

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