Texas continues to win court battles against Obama-era EPA overreach attempts

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton

Texas produces 11% of the nations energy (Jack Dennis)

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Texas leadership has been particularly effective fighting against EPA overreach so prominent during the Obama Administration. On Thursday, March 23, 2017, the State’s Attorney General Ken Paxton commended a ruling by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that leaves intact Texas’ stay of the EPA’s Regional Haze Rule.

Governor Greg Abbott and Paxton have been fighting the EPA plan which would “require power plants in Texas to install costly, unnecessary upgrades to their generators.”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who has been studying compliance costs for the EPA’s Carbon Rule, indicate Texas taxpayers would have to come up with more than $28 billion annually through 2030 to pay for the plan. Texas’ costs due to the EPA’s required reductions would be enormously out of proportion compared to other states.

The decision gives the new administration the opportunity to reconsider the Obama administration’s unlawful action.

The studies show that Texas produces 11 percent of the electricity in the United States, but “would be required to contribute 18 percent of the overall national reduction. In order to meet that mandate, Texas would have to slash carbon emissions by 38 percent.”

Texas has confirmed that it can clean its air without abolishing the energy sector. The Attorney General’s office cited that the State reduced emissions by almost twice as much as states “such as California” from 2000 to 2010.

Texas Flag with Wind Turbines in Background (Saveonenergy)

“We are pleased that the 5th Circuit left its stay in place,” Paxton said today. “The decision gives the new administration the opportunity to reconsider the Obama administration’s unlawful action. We look forward to the opportunity to work with the new administration on a lawful course of action.”

Last July, the 5th Circuit granted Texas’ stay motion while rejecting the EPA’s motion to dismiss or transfer. The court explained that the plan was likely unlawful, and the costs of compliance with the rule would increase rates for Texas consumers as well as endanger grid reliability if power plants were forced to close.

The court also stated that Texas “demonstrated a strong likelihood of success in establishing that the EPA acted arbitrarily, capriciously, and in excess of its statutory authority when it disapproved the Texas and Oklahoma implementation plans and imposed a federal implementation plan.”

Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton have won many court battles against the Obama Administration. Here is a time line of some of the victories related to EPA overreach.

March 2012

When he was Attorney General, Abbott won a second victory in three months for Texas against the EPA when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit’s came back with a strong decision against the Department. It was a major blow to EPA and Obama, when the Court overturned the EPA’s improper disapproval of Texas’ Pollution Control Project (PCP) Standard Permit.

“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,” said Abbott, who filed a challenge against the EPA on February 9, 2012.

The court pointed out that the EPA is only responsible for identifying pollutants and setting national standards. The states are empowered to create their own air quality programs that ensure compliance with federal standards.

February 2012

When Texans learned in 2011 that the EPA began playing games with their own deadline that requires lower emissions with air pollution rules, experts discovered this would lead to the inevitable closing of Texas energy plants, lay off thousands of workers and create blackouts.

“Once again, the unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats at the EPA are flouting the law by denying Texas the opportunity to manage its own air permitting program,” Abbott said on February 9, 2012.

Texas, the Lone Star State (J. Dennis)

The Court criticized and said the EPA provided no legal basis under the federal Clean Air Act for its disapproval of Texas’ PCP Standard Permit. The EPA also ignored the federalist system established by the Clean Air Act and disregarding the State’s authority to implement air permitting programs.

The court pointed out that the EPA is only responsible for identifying pollutants and setting national standards. The states are empowered to create their own air quality programs that ensure compliance with federal standards.

“EPA’s unlawful regulations issued despite the fact the demand for electricity…is at an all time high.” 

July 2011

The EPA gave Texas only five month notice that they would be imposing new regulations that required Texas coal power plants to reduce emissions by 45% by January 1, 2013.

“The EPA’s unlawful regulations were issued despite the fact that the demand for electricity—both during the hot summer months and the cold of winter—is at an all-time high,” Abbott shot back.

ERCOT announced Texas was only 300-400 megawatts away from suffering rolling blackouts. This was very close to the rolling outages that were executed last February during a period of “extreme cold.”

EPA’s new regulations would have forced a reduction of 1,200 – 1,400 megawatts of electricity during the peak summer months, more than three times the amount that would have forced rolling blackouts in the summer of 2011, projects ERCOT.

Court documents filed by ERCOT in support of the State’s legal challenge conclude the forced reductions from Obama and EPA “would lead to unavoidable rotating outages, possibly even recurring events, which could occur in both peak and off-peak periods, through 2012 and beyond.”

“These expensive mandates do little to make our air safer or to control the global warming the EPA insists is threatening our country, while doing great damage to our energy independence and economic recovery,” Abbott stated.

“In the case, the EPA overstepped the bounds of its narrow statutory role in the SIP approval process,” the court opinion stated.

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