Texas Group Decries "Avalanche" of EPA Rules

The conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation on Monday renewed its criticism of the Environmental Protection Agency, as it released a report citing an "avalanche" of forthcoming rules on air pollution.

"There's really not an environmental crisis," said Kathleen Hartnett White, the foundation's environmental director and the author of the report, at a news conference Monday. Texas has already seen substantial air-quality improvements, she said, because the amounts of ozone and other pollutants in Texas air have fallen considerably in recent decades.

Cyrus Reed, conservation director of the Lone Star chapter of the Sierra Club, acknowledged the improvements in Texas. However, "that doesn't mean that everything's perfect and you should stop going forward," he said.

The 10 rules the TPPF focused on in its report include the now-delayed cross-state rule, aimed at reducing sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions; greenhouse gas regulation; ozone regulations; mercury rules; and rules about cooling water for power plants. 

"EPA rules scheduled to become effective in the next three years could cost more than $1 trillion and destroy hundreds of thousands of jobs," the report says.

Reed, of the Sierra Club, said that one reason the rules may have special impact in Texas is because the state has fallen behind on pollution controls. "We haven't been doing our job in terms of keeping our industry clean," he said. Many of the proposed rules have been on the table for many years, he said — so they should not be a surprise to industry.

White and Warren Chisum, a recently retired state lawmaker running for the Railroad Commission, both decried what White described as an "adversarial relationship" between the state and the EPA; the situation was less tense, White said, when she worked at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, from 2001 to 2007.

The EPA, asked for a response, had not commented before press time.

Texas Tribune donors or members may be quoted or mentioned in our stories, or may be the subject of them. For a complete list of contributors, click here.