Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

Posts Tagged ‘pollution’

Texas to get VW settlement money

It’s something. Volkswagen has agreed to pay Texas $50 million in connection with the German automaker’s admitted peddling of diesel vehicles rigged to surpass emissions limits, Attorney General Ken Paxton announced Tuesday. The partial settlement is part of a larger, multibillion-dollar agreement unveiled Tuesday that awards hundreds of millions of dollars to dozens of states […]

New methane rules finalized

Gentlemen, start your lawyers. The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday issued its final rule for methane emissions from the oil and gas industry. The rule limits methane emissions from new oil and gas infrastructure and requires operators to submit to semi-annual or quarterly monitoring, depending on the type of operation. In addition, the agency took […]

Houston’s anti-pollution ordinance killed by Supreme Court

Alas. In passing two ordinances designed to regulate air pollution, the city of Houston overstepped its authority and illegally subverted state law, the Texas Supreme Court ruled Friday. The ruling is a victory for a coalition of industrial facilities whose emissions were subject to inspection and possible prosecution by the city. The case pit the […]

Pity the poor utilities

Sorry, but low electricity prices, especially when they are aided by record amounts of wind power generation, are good news. Texas’ national lead in cheap wind power, combined with near historically low natural gas prices, mild weather, an abundant power supply and slower growth in electricity demand, can work to the detriment of power companies. […]

30 years of “Don’t Mess With Texas”

Happy birthday to one of the greatest public service campaigns of all time. It seems it’s every Texan’s duty to at least once invoke the slogan “Don’t Mess With Texas.” You’ll see it on bumper stickers, in the movies, on T-shirts and coffee mugs. You’ll hear it hollered from campaign stumps and in songs. It’s […]

New EPA rules for methane coming

You know what will follow. Building on already pending rules to cut methane leaks from both new oil and gas wells and those on federal lands, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency now plans to bring to the oil sector the tough emissions standards it previously applied to automobiles and power plants. The change would bring […]

SCOTUS allows mercury regulations to remain in effect

Good. The U.S. Supreme Court has denied a request from Texas and 19 other states to block a landmark federal rule requiring power plants to slash emissions of mercury, acid gases and other toxic metals — a setback for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in a case where he saw earlier success. Without offering an explanation, […]

Environmentalists petition EPA to strip Texas of some authorities

This unfortunately is not likely to go anywhere, but I relish the idea anyway. Alleging that Texas has dramatically eroded its safeguards against air and water pollution, two environmental groups are asking the federal government to step in. The Environmental Defense Fund and the Caddo Lake Institute are petitioning the Environmental Protection Agency to strip […]

Yet another lawsuit by Texas against the EPA

So what else is new? In another lawsuit against the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the state of Texas is taking aim at tightened standards on ground-level ozone — President Obama’s effort to cut down on smog that chokes the nation’s skies. An ozone standard finalized in October shrank the previous 75 parts per billion limits […]

More rules against polluting your neighbors proposed

Good. The Environmental Protection Agency proposed tougher new limits on Tuesday on smokestack emissions from Texas and 22 other states that burden downwind areas with air pollution from power plants they can’t control. At the same time, the EPA moved to remove two states — South Carolina and Florida — from the “good neighbor” rules, […]

No idling

From the inbox, from last week: Mayor Annise Parker and Houston City Council today approved two significant ordinances that will improve Houston’s quality of life and protect public health: an anti-idling ordinance for motor vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 14,000 pounds; and a commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program. […]

Thanks but no thanks, Ken

Harris County will continue to pursue its own lawsuit against VW. Harris County has responded to Ken Paxton’s request to drop its lawsuit against scandal-plagued Volkswagen. Its answer? A polite no. […] In a reply to Paxton dated Oct. 15, [Harris County Attorney Vince] Ryan wrote, “we were pleased to learn that the Office of […]

Paxton wants to sue VW all by himself

Really? Seeking to fight scandal-plagued Volkswagen alone, Attorney General Ken Paxton is asking two Texas counties to halt their lawsuits against the automaker — a move highlighting friction between Texas and local governments pursuing tens of millions of dollars in court. The Republican made the request in letters sent Friday to top attorneys in Harris […]

State of Texas sues VW

Bandwagon time! Following in the footsteps of Harris County and the city of Dallas, the state announced Thursday it is suing Volkswagen in connection with the German automaker’s admitted use of software that allowed its vehicles to circumvent emissions limits. Attorney General Ken Paxton announced two separate lawsuits against Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. and […]

County sues VW for $100 million

Good. Harris County on Tuesday set in motion a $100 million environmental lawsuit against Volkswagen, claiming emissions from 6,000 diesel cars circulating on roadways in the region have caused harm to the population. County Attorney Vince Ryan said his review of filings indicated this could be the first government suit against the car company since […]

Houston pleads its case to the Supreme Court

We’ll see how they did. “The point of all this is to protect the public and the environment, to have clean air, and the TCEQ, for the Texas Clean Air Act, envisions that it be vigorously enforced,” [Houston attorney Robert] Higgason said. “This is what the statute makes reference to — cities being allowed to […]

Houston’s environmental protection ordinances go to the Supreme Court

Where, sadly, they’ll likely get killed. State environmental regulators don’t adequately enforce air pollution laws, the city of Houston believes, and on Wednesday it will ask the state’s highest civil court to let it keep trying to do the job itself. The state Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case challenging a pair of […]

Split decision on cross-state air pollution rule

Not too bad, actually. Texas’ Republican leaders and environmentalists are both claiming victory Tuesday following an appeals court ruling that requires the federal government to ease limits on certain emissions for Texas and a dozen other states. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on Tuesday ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to revisit […]

SCOTUS gives polluters a win

Alas. t emissions of mercury and other hazardous air pollutants, but it may only be a temporary setback for regulators. The justices split 5-4 along ideological lines to rule that the Environmental Protection Agency failed to take cost into account when it first decided to regulate the toxic emissions from coal- and oil-fired plants. The […]

Abbott signs pollution enhancement bill

Still sucks to be us, Harris County. Gov. Greg Abbott has signed legislation that could make it tougher for local governments to sue big-time polluters – an effort that largely targets Harris County prosecutors. House Bill 1794, set to become law on Sept. 1, will set a five-year statute of limitations and cap payouts at […]

Local control still under assault

Sucks to be us, Harris County. With Harris County in its crosshairs, the Senate on Wednesday tentatively approved legislation that could make it tougher for Texas Counties to sue big-time polluters. If finally passed, House Bill 1794 would notch another victory for a wide range of business groups in a legislative session that’s been kind […]

Once again to SCOTUS for Texas and the EPA

Plus ca change, and all that. Texas again went head-to-head with the Environmental Protection Agency before the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday, this time challenging federal limits on the emission of pollutants like mercury, acid gases and other toxic metals from power plants. Joined by 20 other states, Texas is arguing that the EPA didn’t […]

Local control deathwatch: Environment

Unsurprisingly, the Denton fracking ban has provoked a strong reaction. As policy dilemmas go, the one triggered when Denton voters decided last fall to ban hydraulic fracturing in their city looked like a whopper: The oil and gas industry versus local control — two things Texas holds dear — in intractable opposition. There seemed little […]

Yes, we can cut back on coal

It won’t be that hard, and it will come with a lot of benefits. Texas burns more coal than any other state in part because of its large and growing population and industrial base. But the carbon-intensive fuel accounted for less than 40 percent of the state’s power use last year. The federal proposal calls […]

ERCOT acknowledges that meeting EPA clean air requirements won’t be that big a deal

From Texas Clean Air Matters: Well, it didn’t take long before the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) released, at the request of Texas’ very political Public Utilities Commission, another report about the impacts of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) rules designed to protect public health. This time ERCOT, which manages 90 percent of Texas’ […]

Landfill opponents win in Hempstead lawsuit

Good news. A jury on Thursday found that Waller County commissioners met illegally in closed sessions among themselves and with developers of a controversial landfill proposal over more than two years before agreeing to host the project. After a three-week jury trial that was the talk of this rural county, the 12-member jury sided with […]

Hempstead landfill trial update

It’s complicated. For many in the courtroom, a judge’s promise Friday that the Waller County landfill trial would conclude “before Santa Claus comes” was welcome news. Earlier in the week, they had lamented the possibility that the trial – one over an issue that has divided the rural county for the past two years – […]

Here come the new ozone standards

I have three things to say about this. Over the objections of Texas officials, the Obama administration on Wednesday proposed a long-delayed rule to slash levels of ozone – a smog-forming pollutant known to worsen asthma, lung disease and heart conditions. The regulation is the latest example of the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s use of […]

Hempstead landfill fight goes to court

An update on a story I’ve been following for a few years. For the last two years, Waller County and the city of Hempstead have been pitted against each other in a high-profile legal battle over a proposed landfill in the city’s outskirts, a project many in the area see as both an economic and […]

“Environmental tort reform”

Oh, hell no. After failing in their attempt to limit cities and counties’ ability to take industrial polluters to court, some Houston businesses and statewide lobbyists now want to limit how much local governments can collect in penalties, a sort of environmental tort reform effort aimed squarely at a Harris County Attorney’s office they say […]

News flash: Greg Abbott wants to sue the EPA again

Nobody could have foreseen this! Foretelling a new environmental battle between state and federal regulators, Attorney General Greg Abbott on Monday demanded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency back down from a proposal to expand the definition of federal waters to include seasonal and rain-dependent waterways. The proposal “is without adequate scientific and economic justification and, […]

Texas will do just fine under the new EPA clean air regulations

Unless it wants to fail, of course, which is always an option under the likes of Rick Perry and Greg Abbott. Texas could lead the way into a less carbon-intensive future under the Obama administration’s plans to sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants. Or the state could have trouble keeping the lights […]

Court rules for the EPA against Texas again

Another win for the environment. A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld the Obama administration’s new rules that for the first time limit emissions of mercury and other harmful pollutants from coal- and oil-fired power plants. In a split decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected a Texas-based challenge […]

San Antonio plastic bag ban update

Here’s an update on the city of San Antonio’s effort to regulate plastic bag usage, which may include a ban. It’s written by San Antonio City Council member Cris Medina, who is the point person for the effort. Late last year, after multiple conversations with members of the Citizen’s Environmental Advisory Committee (members are appointed […]