Railroad Commissioners Ask Texas Attorney General to Challenge EPA Cross-State Air Pollution Rule

08/25/2011

AUSTIN ––Texas Railroad Commissioners voted this week to send a letter to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott asking him to take action on behalf of the Railroad Commission—which regulates the surface mining of lignite coal—to challenge the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule.

EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule requires 27 states, including Texas, to significantly reduce power plant emissions that cross state lines and contribute to ozone and fine particulate pollution in other states beginning January 2010. The rule threatens the viability of the Texas lignite mining industry, including its jobs and associated economic activity. Additionally, the potential loss of lignite to fuel Texas power plants significantly threatens electric reliability in Texas, as the Electric Reliability Council (ERCOT) has stated that Texas could face a power generation shortage, if this rule is implemented.

“Yet again, another EPA rule targets Texas by putting jobs and energy reliability directly in the crosshairs because of radical environmental policies driven by unelected federal bureaucrats,” Chairman Elizabeth Ames Jones said. “As the country's fifth largest coal producing state and the top job creating state, Americans rely on Texas energy and Texas jobs to fuel our economic recovery. Don't mess with Texas.”

Commissioner David Porter said, “This rule leaves many coal-fired power plants with no other alternative than to greatly reduce output or shut down completely, killing jobs and increasing the probability of rolling blackouts during peak demand. We have experienced record heat this summer, and if you think it’s hot this summer, wait until next summer when we don’t have these electric plants online.”

Commissioner Barry Smitherman said, “This rule is just another attempt by overzealous Obama appointees to stifle economic growth in Texas. The EPA effectively shut Texas out of negotiations on this rule, and demonstrated that they have no interest in scientific evidence or facts. If this ill-considered rule is allowed to stand, it will damage the reliability of our electric grid, and thereby harm the citizens the EPA claims to be protecting.”

The Commission believes that EPA’s rulemaking process was legally flawed. The rule is not supported by credible and accurate technical data, and the rule will have adverse economic consequences for Texas without demonstrable environmental and health benefits.

Click here to see the Commissioners’ letter to Attorney General Abbott.