We were not surprised to see the EPA finally take action on the violations of national law, by the State of Texas. A few years ago, I was a speaker (see: http://www.benboothe) for the State Convention of Rural Electric Co-Ops in Texas, and Governor Rick Perry spouted out:
"I am not going to enforce environmental law of the USA in Texas. Those who are in the environmental business, we will put them out of business." A strange say for a Governor andAmerican Citizen to say.
The utility executives sitting around the table had worked hard to assure that our small utility companies were doing a good job on environmental compliance. We were stunned that a prominent political figure, would say that he was going to break the law, that we had all been working so hard to comply with. It was an embarrassing moment, because the vast majority of Texas business executives pride themselves on obeying laws and being patriotic Americans.
But Rick Perry has somehow been able, not only to break the law of the land, but to then somehow couch himself as a "patriot". The connection between the largest polluters of the industrial and oil industry and the largest contributors to politicians willing to be "bought" is somehow lost on Texas voters. Texas has a long history of politicians being "bought" by big money.
The EPA national rule says that if a facility spews out more than 75,000,000 tons (that is Seventy Five MILLION TONS) of emissions a year that it must get a permit. One would think that any company that sends 75,000,000 tons of pollution into the air that we breath should have some accountability to the rest of us who have to breath and drink the stuff. But, not Governor Rick Perry. Texas is the only state that has refused to allow the EPA permit program. Not surprisingly, Texas has 163 facilities that emit over 75,000,000 tons of emissions a year. That means, in Texas, these facilities spew out 12,275,000,000 TONS (is that 12 BILLION?) of STUFF in the air that we breathe, a year. I don't know about you, but that seems like a big deal to me, certainly significant enough that someone should be monitoring it for health and environmental reasons.
The connection is big money in the oil, utility, and concrete industries, that have given a huge amount of contributions to Rick Perry, and his counter part in Washington, DC U.S. Congressman Joe Barton. Now Rick Perry, has, to his credit, been supportive of water projects and the long term needs Texas has for clean water. In our work to encourage new desalination plants, powered by Wind and Solar energy, and to encourage both municipal and agricultural progress on water issues (see: http://www.environment-solutions.com and http://www.wind-inc.com) through articles and speeches throughout Texas and other states, the Governor's office has been supportive.
But on emissions, Texas policy is a breach of national law and does
not make sense, since the air quality ratings in Texas, and particularly Dallas have consistently been poor. The thousands of people who have health issues because of this appreciate the Federal Clean Air Act, and the good patriots who are trying to enforce the law on behalf of the people.
We can see the impacts upon air quality, but the impact on agricultural farmland, or on our waters, rivers and lakes, is almost impossible to determine. But if industry in Texas is putting out 75 Billion tons of material into our air, certainly many tons of it, fall on waterways.
For certain, Texas taxpayers now will have to pick up the tab for millions and millions of dollars of legal expenses, because of the refusal of the Governor to obey the law.
Patriotism suggests that people obey the law of the land, Governor, and you are not acting in the spirit of our nation. My dear father who was wounded in Iwo Jima to fight for our nation used to say: "I don't have to agree with everything that my nation does, but I will obey the law and I have spilled my blood for the privilege to do so." Rick, you embarrass the memory of people like him, when you so arrogantly disobey our nation's laws.
We suggest that you look at the good article in the Dallas Morning News written by Dave Michaels on this subject. Our credit and congratulations to him and the DMN for publishing this. Considering the big industrial money behind the governor, you show courage and restore our faith in the "4th estate".
Ben Boothe, Sr., Global Perspectives (http://www.bootheglobalperspectives.com)
By DAVE MICHAELS / The Dallas Morning Newsdmichaels@dallasnews.com
WASHINGTON – The Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday that it will seize authority from Texas to regulate major emitters of greenhouse gases because Gov.Rick Perry and state regulators refused to implement the rules.
The move caps a long dispute between Texas and the EPA, which have clashed over the Obama administration's push to regulate industrial sources of carbon dioxide emissions.
State officials complain the rules will unfairly punish Texas and its energy-hungry industries when they take effect Jan. 2.
While the EPA makes the rules, states implement most of the requirements of the Clean Air Act.
The most likely practical effect of the EPA awarding permits instead of the state is that companies will find it takes longer to acquire them, said Jeff Holmstead, an EPA assistant administrator from 2001 to 2005.
"EPA takes forever to do permits," said Holmstead, the head of environmental strategies at law and lobbying firm Bracewell & Giuliani in Washington. "No state wants to be at EPA's mercy."
Other states have joined Texas in lawsuits challenging the EPA's permit rule and its legal basis for regulating greenhouse gas emissions. But only Texas refused to set up the permit program.
Top Texas elected officials deny the scientific basis for regulating greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, Perry and others have warned that the rules will harm Texas' dominant fossil-fuel industry.
The EPA wrote this week that 167 facilities in Texas – many of them power plants and oil refineries – would be subject to the permit program requirements. An EPA official said Thursday that far fewer would actually need greenhouse gas permits in 2011; the state issued 31 major air permits last year.
Existing plants will have to seek permits if modifications increase their emissions by 75,000 tons per year. New facilities that emit more than 100,000 tons annually become subject to the permit rule in July.
The permit rule requires businesses to consider the "best available control technology" for reducing emissions. The EPA has said energy-efficiency measures would probably be the most cost-effective way to comply.
The EPA has already assumed control of another Texas air permit program that, according to federal officials, let some companies avoid certain federal clean-air requirements. That action required those businesses to seek revised permits from the EPA.
By assuming control of greenhouse gas permitting, the EPA said it will be helping Texas businesses avoid the uncertainty that affected the other program.
"The permits that are issued – now it's going to have to be collaboratively between the state and EPA," EPA assistant administrator Gina McCarthy said.
Permits "will be legally defensible. The industries will be able to rely on them and have certainty they are enforceable under federal law."
Katherine Cesinger, a spokeswoman for Perry, said the new rule is unnecessary because Texas has cut pollution with "market incentives and stable regulation, not costly mandates and overreaching legislation."
"The EPA's misguided plan paints a huge target on the backs of Texas agriculture and energy producers by implementing unnecessary, burdensome mandates on our state's energy sector, threatening hundreds of thousands of Texas jobs and imposing increased living costs on Texas families," Cesinger said.
The EPA's announcement came on the same day that agency officials said they would propose the first greenhouse gas standards for coal-fired power plants and oil refineries, which emit nearly 40 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions. The standards were not identified, and would become final in 2012.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality questioned how states would enforce the standards, and insisted, "EPA cannot correlate this new regulation to any environmental or health benefit."
McCarthy said the power plant and refinery standards would not set a hard cap on greenhouse gas emissions but would reduce them. She said "With Republicans in charge of the U.S. House next year, Texas' opposition to the climate-change movement will gain more allies. Other states, mostly in the South and Midwest, have also complained that global-warming regulations harm their manufacturers and fossil-fuel producers.
"All these new EPA regulations fall almost exclusively on those states," Holmstead said. "I think Texas will be in good company when it comes to dealing with the new Congress."existing facilities would be subject to the performance standards by 2016.