TLCV Public Testimony to the EPA on the GHG Permitting Program in Texas

January 13th, 2011

Testimony before the Environmental Protection Agency on
Proposed Actions on
GHG Permitting Program in Texas
Submitted by David Weinberg
Executive Director, Texas League of Conservation Voters
Jan. 14, 2011
Dallas, Texas

Mr. Administrator (Al Armendariz) and EPA staff, thank you for the opportunity to come before you today and provide my thoughts on the Texas permitting programs.

My name is David Weinberg, and I am Executive Director of the Texas League of Conservation Voters, a statewide organization whose broad-based membership believes firmly that conservation in policy and practice can enhance Texans’ quality of life, improve our health and preserve some of our state’s most precious natural resources and landmarks.

As those gathered here today well know, Texas is the only state in the Union that refuses to comply with federal law to address and control dangerous and harmful carbon air pollution.

The Clean Air Acts requirements as they relate to carbon pollution are both reasonable and clear, yet Texas Governor Rick Perry and his appointed commissioners at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality thumb their nose at federal law, placing the Texas economy and jobs in jeopardy and putting every Texan’s health at risk.

These reasonable and clearly defined requirements set forth by the EPA require the largest, new industrial facilities, as well as those existing industrial facilities undergoing major renovation, to receive permits and demonstrate that they are using the most advanced, available technology to control carbon pollution before they begin operating.  In many cases, this requirement is as simple, cost-effective and reasonable as installing energy-efficient boiler systems or using cleaner-burning fuel sources.

Yet, Texas has filed a dozen legal challenges of EPA regulations over the past year.  For a state with an estimated budget shortfall of $27 billion for the next biennium, Gov. Perry, Attorney General Greg Abbott and the TCEQ are doing a grave disservice to Texans by both wasting taxpayer dollars and threatening air quality and public health.

And, to date, adding insult to injury, most of their legal challenges have been rebuffed, including this week’s ruling on the state’s GHG program by a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court that concluded that Texas officials have not met “the stringent standards required for a stay.”

But, the Texas Attorney General and our Governor will not relent, placing jobs, the state economy and clean air at great risk.

And, they stand as the minority, even in their own Republican Party.   Twenty-five other Republican governors are complying with the law on EPA requirements for greenhouse gas emission reporting and permitting.

Governor Perry has charged that the requirements are anti-business and unnecessary Washington regulation.  His anti-Washington rhetoric may stir his political far-right base, but it is out of line and out of step with his own Republican counterparts across the U.S., as well as many of the businesses that fall under the flexible permit or greenhouse gas requirements.

Businesses simply want clarity, not the legal limbo that Governor Perry and Attorney General Abbott are subjecting them too.

For a state that prides itself on its pro-business climate and record-setting job creation prowess, its move against the EPA couldn’t be more anti-business and anti-jobs.

Texas businesses are not able to get the legal pollution control permits they need to expand business, hire more workers and quite literally fuel the Texas economy until this state takes responsibility to revise its outdated rules and come into compliance with federal law.

The Texas League of Conservation Voters believes the EPA does have a responsibility to help states ensure public health and protect the public from harmful pollution, especially when a state refuses to comply.

Texas could be moving toward a greener, cleaner energy mix, and TLCV and our members will continue to advocate in favor of cleaner fuel sources and, ultimately in due time, an abandonment of more highly polluting coal and petroleum coke for our state’s power generation.

We have an opportunity to move the state further forward on job-creation and a clean energy economy by following the lead of 49 other states, including 25 led by Republican governors and complying with reasonable federal law.  Instead, political posturing has hamstrung us, and costly lawsuits and appeals will further strain the state’s perilous budget situation.

TLCV and our members believe that conservation and clean air are not partisan values, but Texas values, and we will remain steadfast in our commitment to educate and empower Texas voters and elected officials on a path forward that ensures continued prosperity while protecting public health.

Thank you again for the opportunity to provide testimony today.

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