Monday, June 20, 2011

Texas: "The EPA is closing in for the kill."

Texas' coal-powered energy plants
By J. E. Dyer
June 19, 2011

The necessary precondition for Texas’s unique economic success – a beacon in a deep recession – is energy.  And the EPA is closing in for the kill.

This would be one thing if Texas were an outlier among the 50 states in terms of dirty air or an otherwise demonstrably imperiled environment.  But the truth is closer to the opposite:  the air in Texas has been getting cleaner; in the urban areas, much cleaner.  And in spite of being by far the largest electric power producer of the 50 states, and heavily reliant on coal, Texas has been steadily reducing its emissions of the EPA’s least-favored compounds from coal combustion (e.g., sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide). Its emissions of NOx and SO2 are substantially lower than the national average; Texas is ranked the 11th lowest in NOx emissions (.098 lb/mmBtu in 2009, versus a national average of .159 lb/mmBtu), and 24th in SO2 (.309 lb/mmBtu in 2009, versus a national average of .458 lb/mmBtu).

But the EPA isn’t really making the argument that Texas is an environmental pigsty.  It’s not putting any data or findings behind that premise, at any rate.  Instead, it is simply acting high-handedly, assuming an authority that nothing in written law confers on it, to pronounce Texas’s procedures in violation of EPA rules – even when there is no basis for making that claim.  To put it bluntly, the EPA is making a power grab.

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