And so it begins, and on the most fertile red-state territory in the nation. Texas, which got four more seats in the House through the 2010 Census reapportionment, has had its air-quality rules superceded by the EPA as part of its aggressive new action on carbon emissions. Governor Rick Perry promises a fight:
The federal Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday effectively declared Texas unfit to regulate its owngreenhouse gas emissions and took over carbon dioxide permitting of any new or expanding industrial facilities starting Jan. 2.
The EPA also set up a framework for regulating greenhouse gas emissions in seven other states: Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Oregon and Wyoming. In addition, the agency set a timetable on establishing regulated levels of greenhouse gas emissions.
The action will give the EPA permitting authority over refineries, power plants and cement facilities in Texas, the agency said, but will not affect small pollution source facilities, such as restaurants and farms.
Well, perhaps not directly, but the increase in energy prices and shortages created by the EPA imposition of what will essentially be carbon taxes will impact businesses throughout the Texas economy, as well as consumers who ultimately pay the costs of the regulatory regime. Rick Perry has signaled a court fight to stop the EPA and the Obama administration:
Texas is the only state that has refused to implement the new rules. President Barack Obama is pressing ahead with the regulations after Congress failed to pass legislation capping carbon emissions. Perry, a Republican, calls the rules overreaching by the federal government that will cripple his state’s economy.
“The EPA’s misguided plan paints a huge target on the backs of Texas agriculture and energy producers by implementing unnecessary, burdensome mandates on our state’s energy sector, threatening hundreds of thousands of Texas jobs and imposing increased living costs on Texas families,” Katherine Cesinger, a Perry spokeswoman, said in an e-mailed statement.
The timing is certainly interesting. The EPA made this move two days before Christmas, when most people had stopped paying attention to political news. The EPA’s move thus got missed by most of the national media, even though it demonstrates well the Obama strategy in 2011 to win through regulation what it could not win through legislation. And by focusing on Texas, where Republicans have a chance to redistrict with practically no interference from Democrats, the move will certainly incentivize the GOP to limit as much as possible the representation of Democrats in their Congressional delegation as the Republican-controlled House attempts to stymie the EPA’s regulatory innovation.
This also will vault Rick Perry to the highest level of national politics, even as he continues to insist that he won’t run for President. With a third term as governor in hand and a perfect political battle opening in front of him, though, the opportunity may be too much to resist for a man who could possibly unite conservatives and the GOP for a big run against a stumbling Obama in 2012.