Topics

The State of Texas has been at odds with the EPA over rules limiting vehicle emissions. Photo by Gretch Sanders for KUT News.

Understanding the Conflict Between Texas and the EPA

Background

Texas has had a tenuous relationship with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Texas legislators and business owners have refused EPA monitoring of greenhouse gas emissions and air permit requirements in the state. Reasons for this vary and include claims of states’ rights and rejection of EPA rulings on the dangers of six greenhouse gases. In May 2011, the Texas House passed a measure asking federal legislators to prevent the EPA from regulating emissions in the state under the Clean Air Act. The state lost similar legal battles in 2010 and 2011.

EPA detractors note that the agency’s standards could threaten Texas jobs if stricter measures put older coal plants out of business. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) says the regulations could be too costly for older plants to accommodate, adding that it would take time to retrofit or replace plants that do not meet the standards. The gap could threaten the state’s ability to produce sufficient electricity to maintain power in the state during emergencies such as the 2011 rolling blackouts that left millions of Texas temporarily without power.

EPA standards are in flux, and changes could push Central Texas into the “non-attainment” zone, meaning it doesn’t meet regulations. That could hurt Texans by way of lost federal funding for environmental programs. The EPA faces budget challenges after federal cuts that may limit its ability to regulate carbon emissions throughout the country, Texas included.

 

Latest Posts

Report: EPA Followed Rules in North Texas Drilling Case

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was legally justified in issuing — and later withdrawing — an emergency order against a Fort Worth-based driller following a 2010 complaint of groundwater contamination in North Texas, the agency’s internal watchdog said in a report released Tuesday. But questions linger the about the source of the contamination, it added. The [...]

Did Texas Hurt Industry by Fighting EPA Greenhouse Gas Regs?

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has begun the process to begin issuing air pollution permits for industrial plants that emit greenhouse gases linked to climate change. The permits will be based on new rules put in effect in 2011 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in response to research on global warming. It’s probably [...]

A Changing Market and Dim Future for Coal in Texas

Amid the continued decline in coal power in the state, Texas’ largest power generator is asking the state for permission to idle another of its coal power units this winter. And new federal regulations proposed today make it unlikely that many new coal power plants will be built in the foreseeable future. Luminant, a division of the [...]

The Father of Environmental Justice Sees Danger in How Texas Regulates

Dr. Robert Bullard is known as the Father of Environmental Justice

Texas Land Commission Jerry Patterson told a political luncheon in Houston that “oppressive federal government regulation” was a big threat to the Texas energy economy. Especially pollution regulation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “And more specifically, (by) the U.S. Wildlife Service and their Endangered Species designations for critters that probably ought to die anyway,” [...]

New Chemical Safety Guidelines Issued In Wake of West Fertilizer Explosion

VIDEO: The First Festival in West, Texas Since the Explosion After a deadly explosion at a fertilizer plant in the town of West, Texas this April that killed 15, the federal government issued updated recommendations for the safe storage of ammonium nitrate Friday. The recommendations, known as a chemical advisory, had not been updated since [...]

Researching Dirty Air’s Effect on Health: Are Some Texans Immune?

Air monitor used by TCEQ in Houston neighborhood near refinery

For years now, Texas has tried to block Federal air pollution laws, contending they stifle economic growth. But just last week, the U.S. Department of Justice filed another lawsuit to force power plants in northeast Texas to reduce toxic air emissions. As the battle continues over how clean the air in Texas should be and [...]

With New Head of EPA, Battles With Texas Likely to Continue

The Environmental Protection Agency’s recently confirmed administrator, Gina McCarthy, gave her first public address at Harvard Law School today. As the head of the EPA’s air and radiation office since 2009, McCarthy has helped write some of the agency’s toughest air pollution regulations. Today she announced her intentions to make a serious effort to combat climate [...]

Texas Attorney General Loses Round in Ongoing Battle With Federal Government

What does Texas Attorney General (and now candidate for Governor) Greg Abbott like to do for fun? “What I really do for fun is I go into the office,” Abbott said at a speech last year, “[and] I sue the Obama adminstration.” Abbott has been openly bragging on the campaign trail of his many lawsuits against [...]

Head Texas Oil and Gas Regulator Questions Climate Change

‘Not Everyone Believes in Global Warming,’ Smitherman Says Over 97 percent of climate change studies agree: the climate is changing, the world is warming and humans are the cause of it. But that does leave 3 percent of climate studies that are skeptical. And that sliver of skepticism is where Barry Smitherman, the head of Texas’ oil [...]

Senator Calls For Greater Oversight of Fertilizer Plants

In a letter to Texas Governor Rick Perry and governors of other states today, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) called on state leaders to do more to prevent disasters at fertilizer plants like the one last April in West, Texas. “The federal government isn’t doing enough right now, and I’m going to lay out what I think we [...]

About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »

Economy
Education