This would be one thing if Texas were an outlier among the 50 states in terms of dirty air or an otherwise demonstrably imperiled environment. But the truth is closer to the opposite: the air in Texas has been getting cleaner; in the urban areas, much cleaner. And in spite of being by far the largest electric power producer of the 50 states, and heavily reliant on coal, Texas has been steadily reducing its emissions of the EPA’s least-favored compounds from coal combustion (e.g., sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide). Its emissions of NOx and SO2 are substantially lower than the national average; Texas is ranked the 11th lowest in NOx emissions (.098 lb/mmBtu in 2009, versus a national average of .159 lb/mmBtu), and 24th in SO2 (.309 lb/mmBtu in 2009, versus a national average of .458 lb/mmBtu).We highly recommend reading the full article, where you will find all the links and Dyer's full argument here.
But the EPA isn’t really making the argument that Texas is an environmental pigsty. It’s not putting any data or findings behind that premise, at any rate. Instead, it is simply acting high-handedly, assuming an authority that nothing in written law confers on it, to pronounce Texas’s procedures in violation of EPA rules – even when there is no basis for making that claim. To put it bluntly, the EPA is making a power grab.
There are three principal facets to the power grab. One began with an EPA decision in January 2010 that the Texas air-permit program was invalid, and that every facility operating under such a permit in the state would have to be re-permitted. The argument was not that Texas plants were emitting too much. Rather, as the Wall Street Journal puts it, the Texas “air-permit program … caps emissions of air pollutants from an entire facility, but the EPA wants to scrutinize and restrict emissions from every polluting unit of a plant.” Texas, along with a number of other states, is concerned that regulating on the EPA’s basis will cost considerably more, without improving air quality.
The permit invalidation was just the beginning, however. The second facet of the power grab, the Obama EPA’s war on coal, will have at least as damaging an effect on Texas as on other states, and in some ways perhaps more. The war on coal is part of a larger regulatory assault on emissions and industrial byproducts of all kinds, which will, if implemented as intended, ensure life as we know it cannot continue in the United States. The impact on Texas is discussed in the testimony submitted to Congress by the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) in March.
The findings include the likelihood that the new regulations adopted by the Obama EPA will shut down more than 5700 MW of electrical generating capacity in Texas, or about one-twelfth of the peak demand levied by state users in the last couple of years. Meanwhile, based on economic trends, Texas expects to need as much as 25% more capacity by 2020.
But what about natural gas? The EPA is way ahead of us, with the third facet of its power grab. Ben Voth wrote a piece for American Thinker in January calling out the new EPA assault on the production of natural gas in Texas. And if you think the EPA’s particular beef is with fracking (hydraulic fracturing) chemicals, think again. The basis for the EPA’s abrupt move against a Texas natural gas driller in December 2010 was methane and benzene found in local water.
It all fit nicely with the emotional appeal of the “documentary” Gasland, which did for the natural gas industry what Michael Moore did for 9/11. The problem is that not only was Gasland full of errors and misrepresentations, the EPA case against Range Resources in Texas was full of holes as well. Based on analysis of their nitrogen content, the methane and benzene in the afflicted water came not from the natural-gas drilling by Range Resources, but through natural seepage from a shallower nearby gas formation – one that is not being drilled. In other words, there’s nothing humans could have done to prevent the seepage.