Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Greg Abbott and the EPA

It doesn't matter whether it's cleaner air for Texans to breathe or cleaner water for them to drink; Greg Abbott, his corporate overlords, and even the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality are going to fight against it.  Charles has the definitive response to the Texas Public Policy Foundation's little confab on the topic of the EPA's new carbon emission guidelines, and while you should read his full post, here's the takeaway courtesy the TexTrib, and straight from the head of the TCEQ, Bryan "Lickspittle" Shaw.

"I’m concerned that if this is not contested, if we don’t dispute this, if we don’t win, the implications … are only the camel’s nose under the tent..."

That is the state's top environmental regulation compliance officer speaking.  Not 'how do we comply', but 'how do we fight -- and defeat -- compliance with' federal environmental protection regulations.  He's turned his job description completely inside out.

This is just one of the many reasons why people outside Texas laugh and then shake their heads in disgust.   And also this reason.

About 150 people attended the event Thursday to hear Shaw and two other panelists speak about the proposal from the Obama administration, which could require Texas to reduce its carbon emissions from power plants by close to 200 billion pounds in the next two decades.

The general consensus among both the panelists and the audience was that the state should sue the Environmental Protection Agency over the rules if they are finalized, and should refuse to follow them. Karen Lugo, director of TPPF’s Center for Tenth Amendment Action, said she is working with state lawmakers on legislation affirming that Texas should ignore the rules unless Congress acts on climate change legislation, which it has never done.

TPPF has a department devoted to "Tenth Amendment action".   Probably a large responsibility.

The last time Texas regulators refused to implement federal environmental rules, lawmakers ended up reversing the decision. In 2010, the Obama administration started requiring companies that wanted to build new industrial plants to get “greenhouse gas permits” before beginning construction. When the TCEQ refused, the EPA had to take over, causing delays for some companies that lasted up to two years.

The result was legislation — supported by Koch Industries and the Texas Conservative Coalition, among others — that explicitly gave the TCEQ authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions so that companies could get their permits quicker.

It's like a merry-go-round inside the House of Horrors.  And you're belted in.

But like I said at the top... you're not just breathing this shit, you're also going to have to drink it.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is poised for another clash with federal environmental regulators, this time over proposed water protections.

The Austin American-Statesman reports that Abbott wants the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to scrap a proposal to expand the definition of federal waterways. The Republican gubernatorial candidate submitted a written public comment to the federal agency Monday. He threatened to sue if the proposal isn't withdrawn.

The EPA proposed expanding the definition of federal waters to include seasonal and rain-dependent waterways. The agency said the move would stiffen penalties for polluting those waterways that supply drinking water to more than 11 million Texans.

With his track record, I just don't think anybody needs to be worried about Greg Abbott suing.

The proposal "is without adequate scientific and economic justification and, if finalized, would erode private property rights and have devastating effects on the landowners of Texas," Abbott wrote.

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality spokesman Terry Clawson said the regulatory agency is "concerned that EPA's proposed rule expands its jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act without Congressional approval."

David Foster, who heads the Texas office of the advocacy group Clean Water Action, said the TCEQ has shown little appetite for regulating the waterways.

"We need a federal backstop," Foster said. "I shudder to think how the political leadership in this state would regulate these waterways."

A roller coaster inside the freak show that you can't get off of.  But still, a couple of things here: first, a Republican used the word 'scientific'.  True, it was after the word 'without' and before the word 'justification' but since it was Greg Abbott who used that word, we should be accommodating and give him some credit.  How many other Republicans just on the statewide ballot with him even know or understand what science means?

This is some (infinitesimal, I grant) progress.  See, if he had left out 'scientific', the sentence would just contain the modifier 'economic'.  Which as we know is the only actual consideration, but he's at least making a pretense of acknowledging science.  This is closer to the reality-based world than is typical for Texas Republicans.

Second, we are reinforced in our belief that the TCEQ is not actually in charge of environmental quality, except as it pertains to how bad the quality of the environment can be made by the oil and gas giants that actually run it.  So with their mission properly defined, they're doing a heckuva job, Brownie.

'Brownie', in this case, is the color of your air and water.

We all have our once-every-four-years opportunity to change this coming up shortly.

1 comment:

Gadfly said...

First, given that the seasonal streams in West Texas lead to rivers that lead to damned lakes in East Texas, there's plenty of economic justification.

Second, I've no doubt that seasonal streams are listed and described by name in deeds at county courthouses, therefore refuting Abbott on the property rights issue.

Third, another opening to tout Ken Kendrick and his discussion of water issues, as I also did in my blogging on this issue, just up.