Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

Texas Attorney General Loses Round in Ongoing Battle With Federal Government

Attorney General Greg Abbott has filed multiple lawsuits against the EPA

Courtesy The Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce

Attorney General Greg Abbott has filed multiple lawsuits against the EPA.

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 the Obama administration and federal agencies — at last count there were 28 of them. But today an appeals court rejected one of those suits against the Environmental Protection Agency over the regulation of greenhouse gases.

In a follow-up to an earlier ruling last year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia denied Abbott’s lawsuit. That suit challenged federal requirements that states regulate greenhouse gases when permitting pollution new industrial facilities. Today’s ruling essentially says that letting the EPA regulate carbon emissions will do no harm to Texas.

Environmental groups like the Sierra Club and the Environmental Defense Fund welcomed the ruling. “Texas had indicated that it had neither the authority or the intention of applying its permitting program to greenhouse gases,” Peter Zalzal, an attorney for the Environmental Defense Fund, tells StateImpact Texas. His group intervened in the case on behalf of the EPA. “The court found today that the Clean Air Act unambiguously requires [greenhouse gas permitting], and that the state didn’t have the standing to pursue the challenge it was pursuing.”

Abbott’s office declined to comment when reached on the phone today, but said they may email a statement at a later time. The Attorney General could appeal the ruling.

Cyrus Reed, conservation director with the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club, released the following statement:

“Attorney General Greg Abbott and Commissioner Bryan Shaw preferred to spend their time and resources on lawsuits doomed to fail, regardless of the consequences for Texas’s economy, rather than cooperating with the Environmental Protection Agency and upholding the law. Carbon pollution protections are the law, even in Texas. After three years of damaging droughts, it is time for the large polluters and state agencies alike to join the environmental community in working to reduce emissions.”


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