Texas Group Petitions EPA for Softer Greenhouse Gas Rules

Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank whose mission is to influence policymakers with "academically sound research," is petitioning the Environmental Protection Agency to retract a policy that regulates greenhouse gas emissions — which critics argue would essentially nullify one of the most important reasons for the agency's existence.

The policy that TPPF hopes to eliminate is called the 2009 Greenhouse Gas Endangerment Findings. Set in place by the Obama Administration, the rule was EPA's way of determining that federal regulators are legally required to regulate "greenhouse" emissions that cause global warming and pose a threat to human health and welfare. It is the basis for essentially all EPA policy that monitors carbon, methane, and other greenhouse gases.

Together with a coalition of energy, construction, trucking, logging, and manufacturing partners, TPPF filed a petition saying that the Obama Administration failed to properly evaluate the greenhouse gas finding with the agency's official Science Advisory Board.

Which is a nonsense argument, according to Neil Carmen, Sierra Club's Texas Clean Air Program Director. In an interview with the Current, he said that there are plenty of valid EPA standards that never pass through the advisory board. Just browse through the mammoth Clean Air Act, Carmen said, and you can find hundreds of valid rules that the board hasn't evaluated.

Meanwhile TPPF, whose financial backers have included oil industry leaders like Exxon, and whose very own director was vetted by Trump's administration as a candidate for EPA director, simply wants to see the EF disappear.

While the courts have upheld the EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse gases, what makes this latest challenge from TPPF and industry groups different is timing. The agency has already signaled a new direction on climate change and the regulation of globe-warming greenhouse gases. Under Trump, the EPA has already backtracked on efforts to catalog emissions from oil and gas producers and has removed any mention of global warming from its website.

TPPF attorney Ryan Walters said this in a prepared statement: “The EPA may reverse the prior administration’s decisions and interpretations of the statutes it administers, even where courts have upheld the previous policies.”