When it comes to the environment, Texas has been officially and reliably against it for years.
After all, Texas is state that you can almost always count on to oppose any rule that the federal Environmental Protection Agency tries to put in place to, you know, regulate the environment.
But it turns out, Texas Republicans aren't as ardently against all things EPA as it seems. In fact, Texas is actually shockingly well situated to comply with the federal Clean Power Plan, the national standards designed to curb carbon pollution from existing power plants, according to a study issued this week by the Environmental Defense Fund.
The EPA is establishing a flexible framework for states to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from these existing power plants by 2030 through a variety of measures. Texas doesn't usually go along when it comes to anything the EPA wants — in fact, suing the EPA seemed to be one of former-Gov. Rick Perry's favorite pastimes in recent years — but the EPA actually talked to state officials and power company officials and made several changes to the final rule to make compliance more feasible.
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So if Texas officials decide to go ahead and make their own compliance plan according to the EPA guidelines, they'll get the chance to design a plan that plays to the strengths and assets of the state. However, if they choose to go the same route they took with the greenhouse gas emissions rule in 2010, the EPA will once again be the one coming up with the compliance rules, the study warns, arguing that it's always better to make your own rules in situations like this.
And the thing is, Texas is already pretty close to meeting the EPA Clean Power Plan requirements. The EDF analysis of the state's primary grid operator showed that Texas will already be close to compliance with the federal regulation (about 88 percent of the way there) because of market trends. Since Texas already leads the nation in wind energy production and has a bunch of "solar energy potential," according to the EDF, state officials could use these resources to make this whole plan to cut back on carbon emissions practically painless.
When it comes down to it, the Clean Power Plan is actually presenting Texas with an incredibly rare opportunity: An environmental-ish thing that is also a chance for a little economic development by creating commodities that can be sold, including a cleaner, non-coal form of power and credits other states could buy and use to stay compliant.
Who knows if this will actually go over well with state officials.They haven't filed a lawsuit opposing the Clean Power Plan yet, so maybe there's a chance.