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Court upholds Texas air-quality plan against EPA
A huge victory for Texas occurred Aug. 13, when the Fifth Federal Circuit Court of Appeals shot down the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) power play trying to disapprove of a Texas air quality plan, according to an Aug. 15 article posted on the AmericansforProsperity.org website.
The court ruled that Texas had met its requirements to keep its air clean and meet the federal National Ambient Air Quality Standards and therefore should not have been rejected by the agency.
Texas wrote a plan to meet National Ambient Air Quality Standards, submitted it to the EPA, and waited 16 years for an answer. They had submitted their air quality plan to the EPA for approval back in 1994. The EPA was supposed to consider the plan and give an answer within 18 months, but the deadline came and went. Texas took charge and issued more than 140 permits, ensuring the construction and upgrading of various types of facilities in the state would meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards set out by the federal government.
Then, in 2010, the EPA decided they didn’t like what Texas was doing and tried to step in and disapprove the plan (formally known as their State Implementation Plan or SIP). The state had a flexible plan that included a streamlining process granting various facilities a single permit so long as those facilities in the aggregate met the required National Ambient Air Quality Standards. The EPA, however, decided it wanted every major emitting facility in the state to have to apply for its own separate permit.
The court rejected the EPA’s action, saying, “The states have broad authority to determine the methods and particular control strategies they will use to achieve the statutory requirements.”
That means states have a significant amount of discretion in meeting the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. The federal government is supposed to recognize the “principles of cooperative federalism” by taking a step back and allowing the states the proper discretion to make decisions in this area.
For 16 years, Texas met the National Ambient Air Quality Standards while operating its own efficient permitting process. This simply wasn’t good enough for the EPA. The EPA tried to come in and unravel 140 permits, forcing “regulated entities to qualify for pre-revision permits or risk federal sanctions,” but Texas held its ground.
The Fifth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals threw out the EPA’s decision to reject Texas’s plan, calling it both an “arbitrary and capricious” decision.
Gov. Rick Perry released the following statement Aug. 13, in a separate press release:
“This decision is a big win for jobs and a big win for Texas. Our state has demonstrated you can cultivate jobs while cleaning the air, and this finding affirms that states have the right to develop permitting processes that balance the priorities of protecting the environment and allowing our industries to thrive. It’s unfortunate we had to go to such extremes to fight back against this troubling trend of overreach and reckless political activism by the Obama administration that shows no regard for the impact on jobs or our economy.”
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