Texas again attempts to block EPA rules

TEXAS - Texas filed a fresh motion in federal appeals court to block the Obama Administration's attempts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions in the state, one day after another federal court rejected the state's petitions.

At issue is the state's lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to prevent the agency from forcing it to issue greenhouse gas permits for its biggest polluters when national carbon rules take effect in January.

Until there is a ruling on the case, Texas asked the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans to block the EPA's mandate that the state expand its pollution regulations to include greenhouse gases.

The Fifth Circuit court denied that request.

On December 30, EPA published in the Federal Register details of its proposed permit rules for Texas that were to go into effect on January 2.

Texas officials then filed a fresh petition to block the regulations in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which generally has authority over federal agencies.

The petition argues that EPA's creation of the new rules is an "improper overreach" that violates the federal Clean Air Act, which it said "declares pollution prevention to be 'the primary responsibility of States and local governments,' and not the federal government."

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said the state was determined to fight the EPA's intentions, saying that Congress had rejected such carbon rules but the EPA was now trying to legislate them itself through administrative rules.

"Texas law does not currently deem greenhouse gases to be pollutants," Abbott said. "Once again, the federal government is overreaching, and improperly intruding upon the state of Texas and its legal rights."

Backed by a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision, the EPA issued a finding last year that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases endanger human health and welfare.

Since then the agency has moved forward with developing rules under the Clean Air Act to limit emissions blamed for climate change. Beginning January 2, EPA requires large emitters such as power plants, refineries and cement makers to obtain permits for polluting greenhouse gases.

EPA also said it will issue permits for Texas, which has refused to adopt rules for emissions. Opponents of the climate rules say they will hurt the economy and kill jobs.

Earlier this year, Abbott said, EPA indicated it would give states one year to implement new greenhouse gas limits before taking control of permits.

"Today, the EPA said that, rather than giving Texas even a year, it would unilaterally take over the state's air permitting responsibilities on January 2, 2011," Abbott said.

The petition asks the appeals court to step in immediately and halt the EPA's "exercise in administrative fiat."

The Texas petition was filed on behalf of various state agencies including those overseeing oil and gas, agriculture, utilities and land use.


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