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The Brief: June 17, 2010

Is the boiling battle between Texas and the Environmental Protection Agency slowing to a simmer?

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THE BIG CONVERSATION:

Is the boiling battle between Texas and the Environmental Protection Agency slowing to a simmer?

Could be. But the state, which yielded ground Wednesday, may only have added one more round of fighting to the increasingly bitter showdown.

Yesterday, the state proposed changes to pollution regulations that the EPA has said violate federal Clean Air Act standards. News of the state's move came a day after the EPA announced it would be taking over regulatory responsibilities for two more state facilities (upping the total number of facilities to three) and two days after state Attorney General Greg Abbott said the state would move ahead with plans to challenge the federal agency in court. Abbott, along with Gov. Rick Perry and other state officials, has accused the feds of overreaching in their push for stricter state guidelines, which could lead to economic hurt, they say.

But the state's proposal — which includes new requirements for stricter enforcement and monitoring — may be for naught, given that the EPA, set to rule on current laws, is already expected to revoke some regulatory power from the state. "Our action is going to be based on those rules that the state of Texas has already been implementing for a number of years," said EPA regional administrator Al Armendariz, according to the Houston Chronicle. "It's not a high priority for me to engage with the state in a process to create a new version of that program."

State officials, meanwhile, maintained that state regulations do not violate federal rules. Bryan Shaw, chairman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, said the proposal was meant to clarify, rather than change, state rules.

CULLED:

  • There's a new twist of sorts in the the convoluted story involving a mystery donor's attempts to push the Green Party onto the state ballot in the fall, possibly in hopes of draining votes from Democrats: The Greens, whom the Democrats are now suing, have found legal representation — and he's a Republican, with ties to Tom DeLay and Gov. Rick Perry, among others.
  • Eyeing punitive legislation against BP, some members of Congress, both Republicans and Democrats — and many from Texas — hold deep financial ties to the energy industry, the Houston Chronicle reports.
  • Fresh off a media event attacking opponent Bill White in which loud protesters — and a chicken — dominated the conversation, the Perry campaign has released a video ("Bill White's Greatest 'Hits'") combining a compilation of attacks against White with that one Superbowl ad you actually probably kind of liked.

  • "I've also got a bit of an Irish temper. … I should have been above that, and I made a mistake. For those of you who were offended by my response, I apologize, and I assure you that it will not happen again." — Texas A&M Athletic Director Bill Byrne, apologizing for an angry exchange — recently made public — between him and a former student criticizing Byrne's push for A&M to stay in the Big 12

MUST-READ:

BP apologizes, pledges $20 billion to Gulf recoveryThe Associated Press

Mexico's bloodshed worsens as hundreds die in last 7 daysHouston Chronicle

Panhandling for Water — The Texas Tribune

Big 12 will talk about offer to share moneyAustin American-Statesman

Death row inmate's death sentence overturnedSan Antonio Express-News

UH law clinic victorious in high court over immigration caseHouston Chronicle

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