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The Brief: June 3, 2010

For Gov. Rick Perry, the fight between the state of Texas and the Environmental Protection Agency — a textbook example of states' rights versus federal authority — may be heating up at just the right time.

BIll White, Rick Perry at their Primary 2010 reception speeches.

THE BIG CONVERSATION:

For Gov. Rick Perry, the fight between the state of Texas and the Environmental Protection Agency — a textbook example of states' rights versus federal authority — may be heating up at just the right time.

At a warehouse in Deer Park, a Houston suburb, on Tuesday, Perry defended the state's pollution-monitoring efforts, which the EPA last week charged did not comply with the federal Clean Air Act. If the state fails to act within 60 days to amend its practices, the EPA warned, Texas could lose its regulatory authority.

"Last week, the federal government sent the very clear message that it seeks to destroy Texas' successful clean air program and threaten tens of thousands of good Texas jobs in the process.  The EPA seems to believe that federal controls and bureaucracy are more important than clean air results," Perry said at the news conference. "Texas' common-sense approach to air quality permitting works because it avoids the damage caused by Washington's command-and-control approach while cleaning the air, helping create jobs and growing our state economy."

Bill White, Perry's gubernatorial opponent, shot back, but the governor — ever the political wrangler, and eager to tie his opponent to Washington during a time of high anti-Washington sentiment — had already forced him to side with adherence to EPA standards and, in effect, the feds: "Rick Perry's giving a speech today about his own failure," White's said in a statement. "Other governors have been able to keep the authority to enforce the Clean Air Act."

The Tribune's Kate Galbraith has more on the increasingly complex power play between the state and Washington — a fight in which the Sierra Club made headlines this week by joining the side of those lining up against the federal government.

CULLED:

  • Authorities confirmed Wednesday that they had thwarted an attempt made last month by a Mexican drug cartel to blow up a 5-mile-long dam on the Texas-Mexico border, the Houston Chronicle reports. "It would have been a hell of a disaster," Gene Falcon, director of emergency preparedness for Starr County, site of the dam, told the Chronicle. “There was plenty of concern.”
  • Figures related to Texas' second-largest source of revenue were released Wednesday, and they aren't pretty. The state's business tax will fall almost $500 million short of projections this year, with collections reflecting the poor economic conditions of 2009. That's on top of a sales tax that's $1.5 billion behind last year's numbers.
  • Amid continued setbacks in the Gulf oil spill containment process, BP has found legal representation for itself as it faces state litigation: former Texas Supreme Court Justice Scott Brister, who resigned from the high court last year and now practices in Austin, The Southeast Texas Record reports.

"We certainly try to be inclusive." — Rob Jones, an Austin lawyer who wrote the text for a historical marker, to be placed outside the Alamo, honoring early Anglo lawyers. The city of San Antonio has halted plans to establish the marker, citing concerns over singling out professions and ethnicities.

MUST-READ:

Texans in Congress say drilling support not tied to oil industry donationsThe Dallas Morning News

Drilling ban hits Halliburton, Baker HughesHouston Chronicle

Special prosecutor to examine corruption allegations involving Dallas County constablesThe Dallas Morning News

Evidence in open murder case destroyed by Sheriff's DepartmentHouston Chronicle

Quite an Undertaking — The Texas Tribune

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