Texas Sues the EPA to Protect Our God-Given Right to Dump Crap in Air

Twenty-one. That's the number of times the state of Texas has sued the Environmental Protection Agency since President Obama took office in 2009. No one is going to tell us what we can and can't do to our planet, especially not the federal government.

Last week, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued the EPA for extending its authority under the Clean Water Act. Ag business interests in the state needs to be able to dump cow feces and urine into Texas' waterways, and Paxton wants to make sure they can continue to do so.

This week, Paxton's targeting the Clean Air Act.

As part of an agreement Texas reached with the EPA in 2010, industrial facilities in the state don't get dinged for emissions made by their plants during startups, shutdowns or malfunctions. This waiver has allowed plants to exceed the amount of dangerous emissions their federal permit allows. A 2014 ruling by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with environmental groups that sued to prevent the waivers, threatening the pollution rights of plants in Texas and 35 other states. Paxton believes that because the environmental groups challenged the waivers after 2010, Texas' agreement with the EPA should remain intact

“The Obama Administration’s EPA made an abrupt and unwarranted about-face, disrupting a longstanding policy which they had already approved to manage emissions,” Paxton said in announcing his suit. “The EPA’s actions make it impossible for even the most carefully regulated facilities to avoid costly penalties due to unplanned events out of their control. We will continue to fight back the EPA’s ongoing efforts to encroach on Texas’ effective management of our air quality standards.”

Should Texas have to draw up new emissions standards, they would be effective in 2015.

After taking on Clean Water and Clean Air, Paxton's sights are now set on Clean Power. In May, Paxton said he would fight the EPA's new power plan whenever it was finished. It's set to be approved sometime later this summer.

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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young