December 24, 2010

EPA To Take Over Greenhouse Gas Permits In Texas

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Thursday that it is taking the prodigious step of directly issuing air permits to industries in Texas, pointing out the state's reluctance to comply with greenhouse gas regulations going into effect Jan. 2.

The announcement was expected, since top Texas elected officials deny the scientific basis for regulating greenhouse gas emissions.

"Officials in Texas have made clear...they have no intention of implementing this portion of the federal air permitting program," the EPA said, according to the Associated Press (AP).

"EPA prefers that the state of Texas and all states remain the permitting authority for (greenhouse gas) sources. In the same way that EPA has worked with other states and local agencies, the agency stands ready to do the same with (Texas)."

It is said that over 160 facilities in Texas would be come under these procedures.

The new rules require the nation's largest industries to meet more demanding greenhouse gas emissions standards in new facilities or ones that are undergoing compelling modifications.

Plants whose modifications increase their greenhouse-gas emissions by 75,000 tons per year will be required to seek a permit. New facilities that emit more than 100,000 tons annually become subject to the permit rule in July.

Texas emits about 11 percent of U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions, more than any other state, according to Texas EPA spokesman David Gray. If Texas were a country it would be the world's eighth-largest polluter, he said.

Texas and the EPA have repeatedly bumped heads over environmental issues, a division Gov. Rick Perry used on the campaign trail as an example of Washington trampling on states' rights.

Perry 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 to Bloomberg.

The EPA's takeover of Texas' air permit program came on the same day the agency announced it would begin developing standards to reduce heat-trapping gases at power plants and refineries.


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