How many times will the courts have to bench-slap our Governor and Attorney General before they get the message that Texas must comply with the same laws as every other state? It’s three and counting.
Texas had asked the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to block a program that awards construction permits to major sources of greenhouse gas emissions, such as cement kilns and oil refineries. Every other state has begun the permit program or allowed EPA to award permits for them.
On Wednesday, the court denied Texas’ request for a stay, clearing the way for the EPA to regulate major sources in Texas. A three-judge panel wrote that Texas didn’t satisfy “the stringent standards” required for a stay.
Environmental groups said the decision shows that Gov. Rick Perry and Attorney General Greg Abbott have filed frivolous lawsuits that amount to political statements about global warming.
“Texas is the only state in the nation that refused to let anyone – the state or the feds – issue permits for carbon dioxide, the main cause of global warming,” David Doniger, the chief global warming lawyer for the Natural Resources Defense Council, wrote on his blog. “The court’s ruling now assures that EPA will be able to fill that void for as long as Texas’ leaders continue their grandstanding, so that companies can continue building their projects, but with reasonable limits on all of their dangerous pollutants.
You can read that blog post here, which includes a copy of the court’s order. The story has one of Abbott’s usual whiny statements about how this will kill jobs. Which would be funny if the Lege weren’t likely to adopt a budget that will eliminate various state departments and cause school districts to lay off thousands of teachers. Anyway, Abbott and Perry will continue to shop for a court in the hope that they’ll eventually find one that will pat them on the head and tell them how very special and not like those other 49 states they are.
On a related note, those of you in Dallas will have an opportunity to have your voice heard about this. From the inbox:
EPA TO HOLD PUBLIC HEARING ON GREENHOUSE GAS PERMITTING PROGRAM
Public Hearing in Dallas on Friday, January 14, 2011
Texas Public Voices to be Unified, asking for Federal Implementation Plan to take over State Permitting process
HOUSTON – Tomorrow in downtown Dallas, the Environmental Protection Agency will come out to face public, industry and political comment regarding its recent highly controversial decision to assume greenhouse gas (GHG) permitting functions for the state of Texas Citizens from around the state will converge on the city to voice their hopes for EPA’s decision to step in to the void left by Texas’ refusal to reckon with global climate change.
In December, the EPA clarified that they will be responsible for issuing Clean Air Act permits for GHG emissions on the state’s behalf. This decision came after months of oftentimes acrimonious volley between the federal agency and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) on the underlying flaws and limitations of the state’s air permitting process. Texas, the country’s leading emitter of pollutants which contribute to global climate change, has staunchly refused to either regulate greenhouse gases or even accept the opinions of the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on human contribution to climate change.
“For the good of Texans’ health, Texas’ business and our planet’s future, our state has to be a leader in dealing with greenhouse gas emissions”, implores Matthew Tejada, executive director of Air Alliance Houston. “Instead, our state leaders chose to stick Texas’ collective head in the sand, so we applaud the actions of the EPA in putting sensible science and policy ahead of local, shortsighted and divisive politics.”
Texans hope the proposed Federal Implementation Plan (FIP) will allow EPA to work with Texas’ industry and TCEQ for a cleaner, healthier state that abides by the same regulations as the other 49 states in our union. The time has come for Texas politicians to put the long term interests of our state ahead of their next election cycle and work with federal officials to ensure regulatory clarity and protection for public health across the state of Texas.