As early voting begins in Texas, Perry sues EPA 

Will Lutz, Managing Editor of the Lone Star Report, will be contributing to Beltway Confidential during the run-up to Texas' March 2 primary.

Gov. Rick Perry announced today that the State of Texas is filing a lawsuit and asking the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider its finding that carbon dioxide is an environmental pollutant. The effect of EPA’s action is to try to use the federal Clean Air Act to enact President Barack Obama’s policies limiting gasses that he believes contribute to global warming and climate change. The lawsuit, filed before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia circuit, alleges the EPA’s endangerment finding is based on junk science and seeks an order stopping the EPA from regulating global warming under the clean air act.

“The EPA’s misguided plan paints a big target on the backs of Texas agriculture and energy producers and the hundreds of thousands of Texans they employ,” said Perry. “This legal action is being taken to protect the Texas economy and the jobs that go with it, as well as defend Texas’s freedom to continue our successful environmental strategies free from federal overreach.”

Leaders of environmental organizations immediately blasted the governor, criticized his support for new coal power plans, and gave Perry a symbolic citation for damaging the environment. “Instead of suing the EPA, Perry should be taking proactive steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build up our clean energy economy,” said Tom ‘Smitty’ Smith, director of Public Citizen’s Texas office. “Our governor likes to brag about all he’s done to promote wind and energy efficiency and the emissions Texas has avoided as a result, but at the same time he is hammering through a second Texas coal rush that will negate all that hard work and add 77 million tons of CO2 to Texas’s already overheated air.” Officials with the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club called on the state to “clean up and phase out” its existing coal power plans. Public Citizen has a lawsuit pending against the state arguing its permitting process is too quick and does not allow for sufficient review and public input for clean air permits.  

Joining Perry at the press conference were Attorney General Greg Abbott and Commissioner of Agriculture Todd Staples. “With billions of dollars at stake, the EPA outsourced the scientific basis for its greenhouse gas regulation to a scandal-plagued international organization that cannot be considered objective or trustworthy, said Abbott of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). “Prominent climate scientists associated with the IPCC were engaged in an ongoing, orchestrated effort to violate freedom of information laws, exclude scientific research, and manipulate temperature data,” he added, referring several times in the news conference to the scandal in East Anglia, where climate change researchers ignored data and admitted to seeking to marginalize scientists who didn’t agree with their viewpoint on climate change.

Smith dismissed attacks on the science behind the global warming theory. “The overwhelming evidence by almost every credentialed climate scientist says the Earth is heating up,” Smith said. “There is always going to be debate in science about how fast, how soon, and what the impact is going to be. What you’re seeing is the noise on the radar screen. But the enormous body of scientifically-certified and credentialed scientists all say climate is cooking and that the impacts are going to be significant.”

Staples noted that Texas agriculture accounts for $106 billion annually in economic output and that 80 percent of Texas land is involved in some form of agricultural production. “The EPA’s move to regulate greenhouse gasses would impose devastating rules on those Texans who fuel one of our state’s largest economic sectors – farmers and ranchers.”

U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison also blasted the EPA and stating that she too is working on fighting the EPA’s regulations. “The EPA’s actions represent a sweeping mandate that will cost jobs and cannot stand.” Hutchison is running against Perry for governor, though they both agree on this issue. Early voting begins today. Coincidentally, this was also the deadline to file legal challenges against the EPA’s Dec. 15, 2009 endangerment finding.

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Will Lutz

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