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Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Ken Paxton Fights the EPA Over Bexar's Non-Attainment Designation Because... (You Guessed It) 'Overreach'

Posted By on Wed, Aug 29, 2018 at 3:13 PM

click to enlarge Texas AG Ken Paxton's filing claims EPA regulations will financially harm Bexar and surrounding counties. - VIA THE TEXAS ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE
  • Via the Texas Attorney General's Office
  • Texas AG Ken Paxton's filing claims EPA regulations will financially harm Bexar and surrounding counties.
Ken Paxton, Texas' regulation-allergic attorney general, has asked a federal court to intervene in the Environmental Protection Agency's recent ruling that Bexar County isn't meeting ozone standards.

His petition in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit requests that the court review the EPA move to further restrict smog-causing ozone in the San Antonio area. Among other things, the federal rules for "non-attainment" cities put the brakes on highway construction and some factory expansions.

“We are continually and successfully reducing ambient ozone concentrations without stifling economic or population growth, and we will continue to do so without the EPA’s overreaching regulations,” Paxton said in a written statement.

But environmental groups said the AG's filing isn't much more than posturing — or a legal Hail Mary. After all, he and his boss, Gov. Greg Abbott, have already made numerous attempts to slow the non-attainment train that's chugged toward us in slow motion over the past two decades.

Plus, it's hard to argue with the numbers. San Antonio's ozone levels of 74 parts per billion clearly exceed the EPA standard of 70 parts per billion.

"Saying that the Trump administration, one of the most deregulatory administrations we've ever seen, is overreaching on this issue is laughable," said Luke Metzger, executive director of Environment Texas.

Further weakening Paxton's argument is the state's long history of doing jack shit to fix the region's air-quality problems.

For example, Gov. Greg Abbott — Paxton's boss — last year issued a line-item veto slicing away $1.5 million in funding to help the Alamo Area Council of Governments collect air quality data. As a result, AACOG was forced to stop collections at several sites and lay off staff.

"To say the state can solve this problem on its own at the same time as they're tying the hands of local officials is just absurd," Metzger added.

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