Texas says EPA of fibbed at Congressional hearing

You don’t often see a state essentially accuse the federal government of lying to Congress.

In response to EPA air chief Gina McCarthy’s testimony before the House Science Committee yesterday, the Texas Council of Environmental Quality (which testified before EPA at the hearing) released the following post-hearing statement:

TCEQ response to EPA statements

Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011 – Sep. 15 CSPAR hearing before U.S. House committee

The EPA made several statements at today’s hearing that need to be addressed.

The EPA again stated that Texas was treated no differently from any other state, claiming that Texas had the same opportunity to provide comments on the rule proposed as other (Group 2) states that must comply in 2012.

The facts: The information provided to Texas and its regulated sources amounted to a general request for comments on Texas’ possible inclusion. Every other state with the same compliance obligations was provided an emission budget and a detailed rationale for its inclusion—Texas was not. EPA identified in these proposals the specifics of what monitor(s) were affected by these other states and by how much, as well as what quantity of emissions reductions would be necessary to comply with this regulation. Texas did not receive this information at proposal.

This loose interpretation of public notice would be akin to the TCEQ telling Texas citizens: “A new power plant will be constructed in East Texas, please submit comments,” with no additional information.

The EPA wrongly stated that Texas’ SO2 emissions have been reduced by 0.1 percent.

The facts: From 1999 to 2009, total point source SO2 emissions in the state of Texas have decreased by 44 percent. If you look only at electric generating units covered by this rule, the total decrease is 32 percent from 1999 to 2010. Neither of these figures remotely resemble EPA’s claim.

The EPA said numerous times that these rules would not have an impact on jobs or electrical capacity in Texas.

The facts: Numerous Texas officials from the Public Utility Commission, to the Electrical Reliability Council of Texas, to the TCEQ, are saying that these rules will decrease electric capacity in the state. Luminant announced Monday that they would be cutting 500 jobs in Texas as a result of the CSAPR rules. The EPA believes that Luminant hasn’t fully considered all options, but it is difficult to imagine that alternatives to a decision of this magnitude would not have been thoroughly contemplated by those responsible for operating the business.

EPA has given members of Congress and the media the impression that Texas is being a bad neighbor, causing many areas of the country to experience poor air quality. From EPA’s written testimony, “Without CSAPR, and in the absence of CAIR, EPA projected that Texas power plants would contribute significantly to air pollution in downwind states, tribes and local communities, in some cases forcing more costly local reductions, and in all cases unfairly imposing tremendous health costs on thousands of American families.”

The facts: EPA’s justification for including Texas in this rule lies with a single linkage to a monitor in Granite City, Ill., a monitor that has been in attainment of the PM2.5 standard since 2009. Further, EPA’s own modeling for 2014 predicts this monitor will attain the standard in 2014, without any additional reductions required.

The EPA’s written testimony also indicates that EPA is now willing to evaluate “technical information” that companies have recently provided. It further states, “we are initiating a process to increase the emissions ‘budget’ for Texas by tens of thousands of additional tons, reducing the amount of emissions that the state is required to cut.”

The TCEQ looks forward to the opportunity to assist in that process. As provided in testimony by TCEQ Chairman Bryan W. Shaw, Ph.D., these regulations have vast economic effects, not limited to the direct energy generation costs that will be felt by every energy consumer, but also through the indirect effects of higher costs associated with the cost of manufacturing goods, and regrettably, the potential for lost jobs, as all sectors struggle to absorb these costs. Under average conditions, the potential generation loss in Texas caused by this rule will have real impacts to real people. Should Texas face another sweltering summer like this past one, there is every reason to worry about loss of life.

Moreover and contrary to the EPA’s portrayal of Texas as a “bad neighbor” air emissions-wise, check out Houston’s air quality trend report for 2010.

“The facts” and EPA are often strangers.

6 thoughts on “Texas says EPA of fibbed at Congressional hearing”

  1. Texas should not expect even-handed treatment from the Administration’s functionaries. They have a Republican governor during the most partisan administration this country has seen in a century.

  2. The EPA lie or misrepresent? Never. Region 5 couldn’t get the truth out in front of an Administrative Law Judge. And that was back when they weren’t as “activists.”

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