RRC Commissioners Vote to Challenge the Validity of EPA Air Emissions Actions

March 01, 2023

AUSTIN – At their Feb. 28 open meeting, RRC Commissioners unanimously voted to refer two actions by the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) to the Texas Attorney General to challenge their validity.

In 2018 the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality submitted the state’s robust Interstate Transport State Implementation Plan (SIP) for National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone – a plan to ensure that emissions within the state would comply with the “good neighbor” provisions of the Clean Air Act and not affect air quality in other states. The EPA disapproved the plan in February 2023, but not before proposing a federal implementation plan (FIP) plan almost a full year prior to disapproving the state plan.

The RRC is concerned that the EPA was ready to ignore the state’s expertise on regional factors, and circumvented procedures in the Clean Air Action by proposing a federal plan before its final disapproval of the SIP. 

Not only that, but the proposed FIP also introduces restrictive emissions standards for stationary engines that are used in the pipeline transportation of natural gas. As the state’s oil and gas regulator, the RRC is concerned about how the proposal could hinder a vital industry that contributes significantly to the Texas economy and the state budget. 

“When the federal government oversteps in the business of Texas, it is our responsibility to push back,” said RRC Chairman Christi Craddick. “This federal administration has yet again proven that they do not value the profoundly beneficial impact of the oil and gas industry in Texas, and this vote is the first step for the Railroad Commission of Texas in fighting back against unreasonable and unjust attempts to harm this state.”

“The Biden Administration is pulling every pseudo-environmental lever they can to shut down oil and gas production – especially in Texas – where it’s cheap, plentiful, and responsibly produced,” said Commissioner Wayne Christian. “Biden’s EPA first tried it in the Permian Basin last year through non-attainment, with faulty emissions reports, to no success. Now they are trying it through an overreaching, one-size-fits-all approach with their regional haze rule. Contrary to popular belief, fossil fuel usage and a clean environment are not mutually exclusive; in fact, according to the EPA themselves major pollutants are down 78% in the last fifty years alongside increased fossil fuel consumption. I hope the Texas Attorney General will fight this onerous proposal and return the rights back to states and local officials, who know best how to take care of their own land and air.” 

“There is a disturbing trend emerging from the Biden Administration with respect to blatant federal overreach and repeated attempts to undermine the authority and sovereignty of our state,” said Commissioner Jim Wright. “Texas has a long and proud history of protecting our natural resources and our environment and is more than capable of acting in the best interest of our citizens without Washington bureaucrats looking over our shoulder.”

A copy of the Commission’s order approving referral of these actions to the Texas Attorney General can be found at https://www.rrc.texas.gov/media/nundcgus/2023_02_28_12_15_53.pdf

About the Railroad Commission:
Our mission is to serve Texas by our stewardship of natural resources and the environment, our concern for personal and community safety, and our support of enhanced development and economic vitality for the benefit of Texans. The Commission has a long and proud history of service to both Texas and to the nation, including almost 100 years regulating the oil and gas industry. The Commission also has jurisdiction over alternative fuels safety, natural gas utilities, surface mining and intrastate pipelines. Established in 1891, the Railroad Commission of Texas is the oldest regulatory agency in the state. To learn more, please visit https://www.rrc.texas.gov/about-us/.