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Texas and Congress Take on EPA in Greenhouse Gas Battle

Like many Texas oil and gas attorneys, I am keenly interested in the struggle unfolding between the EPA, Congress and the State of Texas. In a previous blog post, I discussed the EPA‘s recent efforts to regulate greenhouse gasses across the nation. Today, I’ll describe the State of Texas‘ and the US Congress’ responses to the EPA’s new greenhouse gas rules.

The EPA’s greenhouse gas regulations require the states to implement a federally mandated greenhouse gas permitting system. Under EPA greenhouse gas regulations, new, large power plants that are already required to obtain pollution permits must also obtain a greenhouse gas permit. The permit would require those new power plants to implement the newer technologies available to control carbon dioxide emissions.

Most states agreed to implement the EPA’s new greenhouse gas plan. Texas and Wyoming, on the other hand, filed legal challenges to the program.

Texas Governor Rick Perry publicly refused to go along with the EPA. Governor Perry’s spokeswoman called the EPA’s plans “misguided,” “unnecessary,” and “burdensome,” and said that the the permitting system threatens “hundreds of thousands of Texas jobs” and imposes “increased living costs on Texas families.”

The EPA caught wind of Perry’s refusal and took matters into their own hands. Because it was clear that Texas would not implement the new greenhouse gas rules, the EPA decided to take over Texas’ greenhouse gas permit program. So, new power plants that are required to get a greenhouse gas permit under the EPA’s greenhouse rules would need to get that permit directly from the EPA, rather than the State of Texas.

Congress also may have something to say on the matter. House Republicans recently passed the Energy Tax Prevention Act 2011, which would prevent the EPA from regulating key greenhouse gasses, including carbon dioxide. The Act’s supporters argue that the Clean Air Act is ill fitted to regulate greenhouse gasses, and those who wish to reduce greenhouse gas emissions should be forced to pass a new greenhouse gas law, instead of piggy-backing on the Clean Air Act. Opponents of the Energy and Tax Prevention Act argue that the EPA is now well suited to regulate greenhouse gasses, and the Clean Air Act is sufficient to address all potentially harmful air pollutants, including carbon dioxide ans other greenhouse gasses.

Of course, all this new regulation only makes sense if you believe that global warming is caused by human-created greenhouse gasses. As I discussed in an earlier article, the weight of truly scientific authority (as opposed to the posturing by the politicians and psuedo-scientists with the U.N.’s Committee on Climate Change) has demonstrated that it is there is little real proof of human-caused global warming.

The 2011 Energy and Tax Prevention Act will have to pass through the Senate and resist a presidential veto in order to become law.

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