EPA Hits Texas, Other States with Tougher Air Pollution Regulations: Cue Outrage from Rick Perry, Greg Abbott

The Environmental Protection Agency announced stricter rules on air pollution, rules that will especially affect Texas, whose politicians have been fighting tenaciously to avoid federal regulation of the state's many pollution producers.

The EPA says it "today finalized additional Clean Air Act protections that will slash hundreds of thousands of tons of smokestack emissions that travel long distances through the air leading to soot and smog, threatening the health of hundreds of millions of Americans living downwind."

Changes in the Cross-State Pollution will create up to $280 billion in annual health benefits, the EPA says.

"No community should have to bear the burden of another community's polluters, or be powerless to prevent air pollution that leads to asthma, heart attacks and other harmful illnesses," said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.

Twenty-eight states are affected, but the Washington Post says the changes will be keenly felt in Texas.

The rule will likely have its biggest impact on states such as Texas, which has challenged the idea of stricter controls on coal-fired power plants.

Vicki Patton, a senior attorney for the Environmental Defense Fund, said that Texas power plants collectively "are the nation's largest emitter" of nitrogen oxide and "the second largest emitter" of sulfur dioxide.

"Cleaning up the lethal air pollution from Texas' coal plants will save over a thousand lives each year and help the children who suffer from this pollution breathe easier," she said.

The Houston Press looked at the hapless efforts of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to control air pollution in "A Quiet Hell."

Governor Rick Perry and Attorney General Greg Abbott have been fighting federal efforts, and we will update when they issue responses to today's announcement.

Update: And Perry weighs in:

"Today's EPA announcement is another example of heavy-handed and misguided action from Washington, D.C., that threatens Texas jobs and families and puts at risk the reliable and affordable electricity our state needs to succeed. From the attack on Texas' successful clean air program, to threatening endangered species listings in West Texas oil fields, to banning offshore energy exploration, the Obama Administration seems intent on increasing energy costs for American consumers and making us even more dependent on foreign energy.

"Texas will keep standing up to this destructive federal overreach, and working to enhance environmental protection and domestic energy exploration and production."

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