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TribBlog: The Sound and the Fury

Attorney General Greg Abbott filed a legal challenge on Monday against the Environmental Protection Agency, saying the agency's rejection of Texas' pollution-permiting system constitutes "improper overreach by the federal government."

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In the latest turn in the ongoing battle between state and federal air-pollution regulators, Texas's attorney general filed a legal challenge on Monday against the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA's rejection of Texas' permitting program for large industrial plants last month constituted "improper overreach by the federal government," according to the release from Attorney General Greg Abbott's office.

Governor Rick Perry, who often rails against federal intrusion into state affairs, quickly jumped into the fray.

"The EPA’s overreach is as potentially devastating as it is unnecessary, as Texas has achieved greater improvements in air quality than the nation as a whole since 2000 through our use of incentives and innovation," the governor said in a statement today. The EPA action, Perry said, would also "likely result in significantly higher prices for energy and just about everything else, a frightening prospect during a time so many Americans are struggling to make ends meet."

The EPA has said that Texas' system of "flexible" permits — in which an industrial plant must meet an overall pollution limit but does not set caps on individual units within the plant — does not accord with the requirements in federal law. More than 120 plants are affected.

How the EPA will enforce its decision remains to be seen.

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