Texas AG sues to stop new EPA rules

Earlier this week we saw a sneak preview in Kentucky and Indianapolis of how new EPA emissions regulations will be affecting power generation, jobs and the economy. This came with a warning about the even larger impact which will be felt in Texas next year if all of the proposed rules take effect and are enforced. Seeking to cut off this impending disaster at the pass, the Texas Attorney General filed suit yesterday to put the brakes on enforcement until cooler heads can prevail.

Texas, the second-most populous U.S. state, sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, seeking to block rules aimed at curbing air pollution.

State Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office today filed a petition for review of the regulation at the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington. A request to bar its enforcement will be filed later today, a spokeswoman for the attorney general, Lauren Bean, said today in a telephone interview.

Abbott “is deeply concerned about these new federal regulations’ impact on the State of Texas, its electric grid and the Texans whose access to something as basic as electricity is threatened,” the attorney general said in an e-mailed statement.

Rick Perry, who has a vested interest in keeping Texans employed and the lights on around his state, weighed in on the suit, calling the regulations “heavy-handed and misguided.”

The origin of the complaint comes from Luminant Generation Co.of Texas. Their CEO, David Campbell, took to the op-ed pages of the Dallas Morning News to bring his case directly to the attention of the public.

Many readers will assume that this is a traditional —industry versus EPA story. That’s simply not true. This is different because flaws in the rule’s provisions for Texas, and the resulting harm to jobs and reliability, have spurred Texans from both parties to question the process and the timeline. Thirty-one of 32 members of the Texas congressional delegation – and both senators – agree, as do consumer groups, economic development groups and community leaders from across the state.

This is different because of fundamental flaws in EPA’s process. When EPA first proposed this rule, Texas was not included in the annual programs, because EPA’s own modeling indicated that emissions were not high enough to justify including Texas. A year later, EPA reversed course. It not only included Texas, but also required massive reductions in less than six months. Those actions are an unjustified break from its normal notice and comment process for a major new EPA rule. No one can plan for that kind of massive, unexpected change.

And this time is different because it will result in the loss of two power generating units — 1,300 megawatts — after a summer heat wave that showed that Texas doesn’t have a megawatt to spare.

Campbell goes on to point out that attempts to comply with these rules on such an impossibly short timeline will cost them more than one and a half billion dollars this decade alone and force him to lay off an estimated 500 workers. If you wish to keep track of the case’s progress, it’s State of Texas v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 11-1338.

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