Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Texas objection to greenhouse regs stalling 167 construction projects, say environmental groups

Posted By on Tue, Jan 11, 2011 at 11:23 AM

Texas has decided to take a states-rights stand on federal regulation of greenhouse gases now being rolled into practice in 49 states. Texas, led by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, has refused to budge to regulate the most prominent of greenhouse gases, blamed for destabilizing the global climate. On a conference call Tuesday, environmentalists blamed the failure for holding up 167 construction projects identified by the TCEQ as requiring greenhouse permitting. So far, no companies have applied for greenhouse emission permits from the EPA, which stepped to regulate the major new construction projects in the state after Texas refused to take action on the regulations that went into effect on January 2.

EPA officials told the Current this week they expect the courts to rule on the case by early next week, allowing compliance in the near-term. “As we said when they announced their latest lawsuit, it's unfortunate that Texas politicians continue to fight EPA's efforts to ensure that Clean Air Act permits in Texas can be applied for and issued in a timely way,” said Region 6 EPA spokesperson Joe Hubbard. “Two separate courts have declined to stay EPA's actions and we're confident we're on sound legal footing.”

San Antonio-based energy corps Valero Energy and Tesoro spent millions in an unsuccessful effort to defeat a California initiative to reduce that state’s greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. While Valero doesn’t debate the science of climate change, it does object to the profit-diluting ramifications of state-by-state legislation.

Despite the fact that Texas, were it its own country, ranks near the top of countries around the world in emission of climate-destabilizing gases, regulation here would only encourage refiners to set up shop elsewhere, Valero spokesperson Bill Day told the Current this week.

“There’s nothing that one state

can do to effect a problem like global warming. I mean, this is a global issue.

  It’s a proverbial drop in the bucket,” Day said. “What it will do is make it more attractive to do the refining in places where there aren’t these restrictions. So you end up increasing the country’s dependence on foreign sources of energy.”

Texas has found support in the new Republican-led Congress, where lawmakers like East Texas’ Ted Poe, who represents refinery-heavy Beaumont and Port Arthur, have been hurriedly filing bills to shut the new regulations down. So, while the EPA may have past Supreme Court support in a ruling identifying greenhouse gases as pollutants under the terms of the Clean Air Act, and the moral authority that comes with the need to protect the planet’s human and non-human populations from industry-caused disaster, that may not be enough to trump politics in the end.

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