Texas’ Republican leaders and environmentalists are both claiming victory Tuesday following an appeals court ruling that requires the federal government to ease limits on certain emissions for Texas and a dozen other states.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on Tuesday ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to revisit caps on nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide emissions — set in an effort to limit the effects of air pollution across state boundaries. But the court also upheld the agency’s right to enforce such a regulation.
Texas was among 13 states, joined by industry and labor groups, that sued over the so-called Cross-State Air Pollution Rule in 2011, challenging the EPA's framework and complaining states weren't given enough time to comply.
The regulation requires Texas and other "upwind" states in the South, Midwest and Appalachia to cut certain emissions that contribute to air pollution in East Coast states like New York.
In a 6-2 decision last year, the U.S. Supreme Court largely upheld the rule in a major win for the Obama administration. But the justices told the lower courts to resolve lingering questions about how to implement it.
Tuesday’s ruling addressed those issues, with the court noting “the petitions for review are therefore granted in part and denied in part.” It opted to leave the current emissions rules in place as the EPA revises them.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Tuesday that he was “pleased the court has sent the EPA marching back to the drawing board.”
“We will continue to fight the EPA’s overreach while ensuring Texas can keep our air clean without wreaking havoc on family budgets,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Environmental Defense Fund emphasized that the appeals court “granted claims by Texas and other states challenging particular emissions budgets while firmly rejecting associated requests to vacate the emissions protections and rejecting several additional fundamental legal claims.”
“The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule will continue to protect 240 million Americans from dangerous smokestack pollution in upwind states,” said defense fund lawyer Graham McCahan, who argued before the court. “The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule is already helping to ensure healthier and longer lives for millions of Americans, including the children at risk of increased asthma attacks.”
Texas has sued the EPA 21 times since President Obama took office in 2009.