Texas Gets Ready to Rumble With the EPA. Again.
You'd be hard pressed to find anything Texas officials love more than taking whatever the federal Environmental Protection Agency is trying to do and fighting against it.
They've gotten a lot of mileage out of fighting against anything the EPA tries to do when it comes to air quality in recent years and now they are getting ready to fight again after the EPA simply floated some possible ideas for changes to air quality rules to be put in place next year.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality wrote a letter to Gina McCarthy, administrator of the EPA "regarding its plans to develop regulations to address carbon dioxide emissions from existing electric generating units" based on the Clean Air Act. Go figure, the TCEQ has already decided that, based on the questions submitted by the EPA, the TCEQ is not in favor of whatever the EPA ultimately comes up with.
Texas officials believe Congress should be in charge of climate change policy, not the EPA (though the fact that anyone mentioned climate change in the letter is a minor miracle, since talking about it implies climate change exists.) The TCEQ officials disapprove of the EPA using sections of the Clear Air Act to make rules on climate change since that is not what the act was created for, according to the letter. In short, Texas wants the EPA off of this subject and out of any regulation in Texas.
A few years back, this might have been a signal for the EPA to come out swinging for the fences, pushing their case and trying to get Texas in line with the concept of regulation. But of late the EPA, lacking in both the funding and political backing to fight these kinds of fights, has been signalling a more hands off approach on regulation. All signs show the EPA isn't up for a battle royal over climate change and air quality. The agency isn't even up for a low level skirmish on recycling. Another sign of weakness? The fact that the agency only sent out a questionnaire and Texas fired back a rather prickly response.
Time will tell if the air quality rules becomes something worth fighting about for the EPA. Texas has already made it clear that those rules won't be enacted around here without a fight.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Houston Press' biggest stories.