Energy & Environment

Environmental Groups Sue EPA Over Latest Texas Haze Rule

The new plan gives Texas power plants alternatives to installing costly emissions controls

A view from the South Rim trail at Big Bend National Park on a hazy day.

Environmental groups say the Environmental Protection Agency is taking a “do-nothing” approach to dealing with pollution in Texas.

On Friday, a coalition of groups sued the agency over the latest version of a rule meant to reduce haze in scenic parts of Texas and the U.S., saying it doesn’t go far enough.

There is consensus on one point: that haze in national parks is a problem. The EPA acknowledged that when it finalized its new haze cleanup plan in October, saying that average visibility in many national parks and wilderness areas is “about one-half to two-thirds of the visual range that would exist without anthropogenic air pollution.”

Stephanie Kodish is an attorney with the National Parks Conservation Association, which worries about pollution in the Big Bend and Guadalupe Mountains parks coming from power plants.

“Not only do these sources compromise visibility, but they also affect visitor health, and they’re the same sources that have an impact on our climate,” Kodish said. Her group and others argue the Obama Administration’s approach to cleaning up haze would’ve had better results. 

The new plan gives Texas power plants alternatives to installing costly emissions controls, one of them being an emissions trading program within the state.

The EPA said its policy is to not comment on pending litigation, but in deciding on the new rule, the agency had considered arguments from Texas power companies that the old version would’ve been unnecessarily costly, and that it was an example of federal overreach. The groups suing are also formally petitioning the EPA to reconsider the new rule.

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Travis Bubenik

Travis Bubenik

Energy & Environment Reporter

Travis Bubenik reports on the tangled intersections of energy and the environment in Houston and across Texas. A Houston native and proud Longhorn, he returned to the Bayou City after serving as the Morning Edition Host & Reporter for Marfa Public Radio in Far West Texas. Bubenik was previously the...

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