Saturday, May 29, 2010

Perry: EPA Messes With Texas

Last Wednesday, Texas governor Rick Perry sent a letter to President Obama asking him to keep his federal notions of what constitutes clean air to himself.

Himself and apparently any state other than Texas.

His point? Texas he says, can take care of Texas just fine thank you very much.

Texas after all, has the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, affectionately known as the TCEQ, and the TCEQ has hundreds of air sniffing stations all over the state. The federal environment watchdog, the EPA, he says, is getting in the way with their more strict regulations. Regulations that do nothing, he says, to clear the air, so to speak, but do end up driving costs upward. Costs, he says, that are passed on to consumers in the way of higher prices for energy and stuff.

From the Austin American-Statesman:

“The argument reached a tipping point earlier this week after the EPA's regional director, Al Armendariz, threatened to remove Texas' regulatory authorities by midsummer if it fails to comply with the Clean Air Act. Armendariz told The Associated Press that his office already had started hiring additional staff, in part to tackle Texas' air quality program.”

“If the EPA takes over, it will be replacing a successful program ‘with a less effective Washington-based, bureaucratic-led, command and control mandate,’ Perry wrote to Obama. On Wednesday, he called the EPA's move a federal power grab.”

And the TCEQ couldn’t agree more. At their own website the TCEQ is presently having an EPA barbecue with TCEQ Commissioner Buddy Garcia turning the spit. Said Garcia:

“I am frustrated by Dr. Armendariz assertion that the ‘…time for partnership and for compromise…’ is quickly coming to an end. We should be partners; unfortunately, the federal government—after failing to act on our rules for some 15 years—has decided that instead of working with us they would just tell us how to run our state-delegated program, or else. No one can dispute the fact that Texas’ air quality has seen tremendous improvements over the last 15 years. Much of that is due to the fact that the Texas permitting programs are essential and extremely effective. The fact that they feel the need to take over only proves my theory all along, they are not about results but merely interested in the process.”

See? Texas air quality is improving even. And how does the TCEQ know this? They have mountains and mountains of data stretching back years and years.

Data collected by the TCEQ, of course.

Sounds a little incestuous, doesn’t it.

I like facts. I like facts better when they aren’t invented by the very organizations that they are meant to support.

So instead of trusting TCEQ facts, I thought I’d look at another organization’s analysis of yet another organization’s facts.

Enter the American Lung Association.

“Harris County received failing grades for both ozone pollution and particle pollution in the State of Air report released Wednesday by the American Lung Association. The association’s research found that Harris County had an average of 53.7 unhealthy ozone days each year during a three-year period between 2005 to 2007, based on an 8-hour daily maximum concentration.”

An F?

You don’t have to read a report card, really to know that the Houston area’s air is polluted. When the wind is right you can smell the refinery-choked ship channel as if it was right next to you.

But what is truly galling in all of this is that the EPA isn’t really being the bully here. The TCEQ is. When the TCEQ kept hearing that the EPA was rethinking its position on Texas’ “flexible permit” system because they were concerned that it violated the Clean Air Act, the TCEQ filed suit in 2008 demanding that the EPA take action instead of keeping their programs on the hook – in limbo as it were. So when a judge ordered the EPA to act, they complied.

And the TCEQ is now saying that they don’t know why the EPA has decided not to work with them anymore.

Gee, you think it might have something to do with the line the TCEQ drew in the sand? The line that they then asked EPA to cross?

1 comment:

Marsha said...


I was raised in the Pacific NW by my Oklahoma raised Mom who told me the smell of oil was the smell of money. Hummm, I wonder who gets the money in Texas?