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

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 [...]

Coming Soon to the TCEQ: Greenhouse Gas Permits?

An oil refinery is pictured in Texas City, Texas. A new billed could help streamline the greenhouse gas permitting process.

Update: HB 788, which would put greenhouse gas permitting into the hands of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), passed out of the House this week. No amendments to the bill were added. Mike Heim, a Texas oil and gas executive, previously told the House Natural Resources Committee that moving the permitting process to [...]

Environmental Justice and the EPA’s New Man in Texas

EPA Region 6 Adminstrator Ron Curry at Superfund site in Harris County

Ron Curry is the EPA’s new administrator for Region 6, overseeing enforcement of federal pollution laws in New Mexico (where he once headed that state’s environment department), Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, and in Texas. Texas, where the state has gone to court to stop the EPA from enforcing pollution laws. Texas is also where the previous [...]

UPDATED: AG Stay Request Denied in Whooping Crane Case, Judge Amends Order

UPDATE: Late Friday afternoon State Attorney General Abbot’s request to stay the ruling on TCEQ water management was denied, according to The Aransas Project, the plaintiffs in the case. However, the language of Judge Jack’s original order (the one the state was trying to stay) was amended to allow the TCEQ to approve water permits from [...]

Texas Watches State of the Union with an Eye on Energy

US President Barack Obama addresses a crowd of supporters on stage on election night November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois.

Even before the president’s State of the Union Address was over last night, some environmental and renewable energy groups were sending out congratulatory emails. “We thank President Obama for his leadership” read one from the Solar Energy Industries Association. The speech outlined “clean energy solutions”  said the group Environment Texas. And while some observed that [...]

Sierra Club Takes Aim at Coal Plants in East Texas

The Sierra Club is going after several coal plants in Texas.

From the Texas Tribune: FAIRFIELD, Texas — Staring across a lake at the oldest coal-fired power plant in Texas, Mayor Roy Hill thinks back to the early 1970s, when his father helped bring the plant to the area. “Quite honestly, this plant saved Fairfield,” Hill said. Should it close, he said, the economic impact would [...]

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