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Texas' Politics Even Dirtier Than Its Air...

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View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
08 November 2010, 10:51 AM
Come Jan. 2, Texas vows to oppose EPA Clean Air Act regs
Martin Lakes, Texas coal-fired power plant

Oh, Texas. Why, oh why does Texas have to be the only state in the union refusing to comply with federal greenhouse gas regulations, when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – following the law! – starts to regulate stationary sources of greenhouse gas pollution in January?

Given the fact that Texas is the nation’s largest emitter of greenhouse gas pollution from power plants, it’s really unfair to the rest of the country that the Lone Star remains so ... lone.

Last week, voters in California overwhelmingly rejected Proposition 23, a challenge to that state’s global warming law. And while California serves as the optimal role model for the rest of the country, Texas is the big-bad polluter vowing to undermine all federal regulations of clean air – while breaking the law to make its point. Texas has 21 operating coal plants and seven proposed coal plants (most in the nation), which will further threaten air quality for Texans. And it's a problem for residents in downwind and neighboring states.

With the support of Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the state has filed seven lawsuits against the EPA in the last nine months. The state’s own environmental commission, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality,  also has been criticized for its too-friendly relations with industry and its too-weak penalties against them.

In September, Earthjustice called on the EPA to require TCEQ to regulate industries which are disregarding the Clean Air Act due to the commission’s failure to enforce the law. Also in September, after more than 50,000 air pollution violations at a Martin Lake, Texas coal-fired power plant, we filed a lawsuit against the owner of that plant – Luminant. The plant, located near Longview, Texas, is the worst power plant for mercury pollution among all U.S. coal plants, emitting 1,764 pounds in 2008.

To convolute problems even further, a lawyer credited with crafting Texas’ air laws is now an attorney for some of the state’s biggest polluters. Pamela Giblin also serves on the EPA’s Clean Air Act Advisory Committee and has met with EPA officials at least three times this past year. Does anyone else take issue with this?

Bill Becker, executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, is quoted in the LA Times saying, “at times, they’re their own country. They feel strongly, politically, that this is an issue that shouldn’t pertain to them and they would like to proceed on their own terms.”

What a scary thought.


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