EPA Can't Block Texas's Clean-Air Rules for Being Too Lax, Appeals Court Says

The federal Environmental Protection Agency overstepped its bounds when it rejected a Texas clean-air plan it thought was too lax, an appellate court has ruled.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals says the EPA was limited to reviewing whether Texas's controversial plan met the absolute minimums of Clean Air Act regulations.

"If Texas's regulations satisfy those basic requirements, the EPA must approve them," the court wrote. "In this case, the EPA overstepped the bounds of its narrow statutory role in the...approval process."

The decision had Texas attorney general Greg Abbott crowing.

"Showing seemingly no regard for the federal laws that govern what it can and cannot do, the EPA unlawfully disapproved a commonsense Texas air permitting program that fully complied with the federal Clean Air Act and reduced harmful emissions," he said. "The EPA disregarded the limited authority it was granted under federal law and incorrectly alleged that Texas would not act sensibly and in accordance with its own laws. This victory marks the second time in the last three months that Texas has successfully obtained relief from the courts after an unlawful overreach by the EPA."

Governor Perry also was happy:

Texas has long maintained the EPA is vastly overreaching in unchecked efforts to seize control of matters that are best left to the states. Our state has developed a system that protects the environment and promotes a nationally-leading business climate that generates investment and creates jobs. We remain confident that when it's all said and done, the EPA's actions in this case will be just another example of failed federal overreach.

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