I am amending this post after making some calls and finding out more about the EPA’s rule. I guess this is one of those cases where we’re paranoid because they really are after us. Dewhurst’s statement follows: AUSTIN—Today, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst issued the following statement regarding the detrimental effects of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Cross-State Air Pollution Rule: “As feared, the EPA’s proposed rule targeting power plants in Texas will kill jobs, jeopardize our state’s economic recovery and drive up the cost of electricity for millions of Texans. As a consequence of this heavy-handed rule, large power plants will be closed, hundreds of jobs will be lost, and Texans may experience more rolling power outages during times of extreme cold or heat. * * * * The likely effect of the EPA’s rule is that it will result in the mothballing of four lignite plants capable of producing 4000 megawatts of electricity. The coal industry, while no doubt grateful for Dewhurst’s suppot, has not forgotten that Dewhurst has generally favored natural gas over coal. Dewhurst’s statement continued, “The EPA has put a target on our back − hastily imposing punitive new regulations on an unreasonable timeline − despite the fact that Texas has improved air quality and reduced emissions substantially more than the national average.” My initial reaction to Dewhurst’s comment was that it was designed for domestic political consumption. One could argue whether it was the EPA who put a target on Texas’s back–or Perry himself, by claiming that the state has an exemplary record of cleaning up its air. I have always been dubious about this claim because–well, because, while we have made strides in cleaning up our air, we still have a long way to go. Is it the EPA who has put a target on Texas’s back? Or is it the state’s leadership–in particular, Perry and Dewhurst and TCEQ–who put a target on Texas’s back? Texas has sued EPA, to no avail, and has a long record of failing to achieve compliance with clean-air regs. When Dewhurst says EPA has “hastily imposed punitive new regulations on an ‘unreasonable’ timeline,” he overlooks the fact that EPA can hardly be blamed for doubting Texas’s bona fides. Dewhurst’s claim that “Texas has improved air quality and reduced emissions substantially more than the national average” is legally irrelevant. Clean air is not horseshoes. You don’t win by getting close. You win by complying with the regulations. Whether you agree with EPA or not, the rule is serious business. Mothballing the plants will cost the state 500 jobs and will take offline 4,000 MW of power, a deficit that could lead to rolling blackouts. As I mentioned, Texas officials may have reason to be paranoid. When EPA came up with its rule, it did not include Texas in the comment period–then it augmented the rule, a maneuver the clean-coal industry believes was “intentional from the beginning.” This has all the earmarks of a shootout between Perry and Obama. We may see more of it in the debate tonight.
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