Corpus Christi, TX-area readers are urged to respond to this invitation from The Caller.
The Caller editorialized today about the recent staying of the EPA Cross-State Air Pollution Rule — note highlighted invitation to expose EPA’s flawed science:
CORPUS CHRISTI — A temporary halt to the Environmental Protection Agency’s cross-state air pollution rule represents adept lawyering by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott. The result — a reprieve for the status quo — compromises human health but dodges immediate harm to the economy.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit stayed a rule that would have restricted power plant operations in 27 states, especially Texas, with the start of the new year. The rule would affect coal-burning plants that emit unacceptable levels of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide.
The EPA has insisted that it has been flexible with industry and found an acceptable bargain in which the reduced human health costs more than offset the economic costs. Its opponents have argued that the industry would fail to meet the demand for electricity and would have to shutter plants, causing unacceptable job losses. Both sides speak truths, though the hyperbole is heavier on the industry side represented ably by its lobbyists and by Abbott, who said he intends to “pursue every available legal remedy to prevent the EPA from imposing its cross-state air pollution rule, and the electricity disruptions and blackouts that state utility officials have said this rule will cause.”
His legal arguments are strong. The EPA, according to Abbott, included Texas in the final cross-state regulations without giving the state legally required notice. Texas therefore had no opportunity to participate in the rule-making process, according to Abbott.
Abbott and the industry also argue, convincingly, that the EPA made some mistaken assumptions while drafting the rules. For example, the EPA overestimated the efficiency of scrubbers operated by Texas power provider Luminant — which Luminant pointed out and the EPA acknowledged.
While the industry and Abbott have said much about rampant blackouts, layoffs and electric bills, they haven’t taken the EPA to task for its estimates that the proposed rules would reduce premature deaths by 34,000 by 2014 and prevent 15,000 heart attacks and 400,000 asthma attacks a year. We would think that the industry and Abbott would cite those numbers as examples of the EPA’s aggressive reliance on “flawed science” — a term used Friday by Abbott in hailing the court decision. If those numbers are concocted, then by all means expose them as such.
In the meantime, the court has decided prudently to give itself time to act judiciously. It expects to hear the cases no later than April.