Energy & Environment

Texas Gets The EPA Approval It Never Wanted

EPA approves how Texas will enforce new environmental regs to cut GHG

coal-burning power plant in Limestone County
New federal regulations are aimed at reducing greenhouse gas pollution. Photo by Dave Fehling

The State of Texas lost one of its key battles against the federal Environmental Protection Agency today. The EPA formally gave its approval for the state to do what it never wanted to do: enforce new federal rules aimed at reducing greenhouse gas pollution from power plants and petrochemical facilities.

The Texas attorney general, Greg Abbott, had sued the EPA, contending the new rules were an over-reach by the Obama Administration. By-and-large, those efforts eventually failed. But along the way, the practical effect was that big industrial companies that wanted to expand or build new plants, couldn’t because the air pollution permits they needed were being held-up by the legal wrangling.

So the Texas legislature went ahead and authorized the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality — the TCEQ — to issue the permits. Now, the federal EPA has formally approved how the state will do that.

The Attorney General’s office declined to comment. But the TCEQ said that while it continues to disagree with the EPA, it’ll nonetheless will begin issuing the permits in a timely manner.

Texas politicians and industry groups had said the new rules would stifle billions of dollars in industrial development. But in making the announcement, the EPA said it had already gone ahead and issued 55 of the permits, for some $24 billion in industrial projects providing over 20,000 jobs in Texas.

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