Tit-for-tat be­tween Texas, EPA over reg­u­la­tions

The Pak Banker - - I Nternational -

HOUS­TON: A long­stand­ing tit-for-tat be­tween Texas and the U.S. En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency over how to reg­u­late pol­lu­tion has grown fierce in re­cent months, leav­ing in­dus­try frus­trated and al­low­ing some plants and re­finer­ies to spew more toxic waste into the air, streams and lakes than what is fed­er­ally ac­cept­able.

Both sides and con­ser­va­tion groups agree the bat­tle has put the health of Texas res­i­dents and the en­vi­ron­ment at risk. But the back-and-forth over ev­ery­thing from who should is­sue per­mits to whether state agen­cies are prop­erly crack­ing down on pol­luters shows no signs of slow­ing down. The fight has got­ten so ugly that the EPA took the un­prece­dented step this month of an­nounc­ing it will di­rectly is­sue green­house gas per­mits to Texas in­dus­tries be­gin­ning in Jan­uary af­ter the state openly re­fused to com­ply with new fed­eral reg­u­la­tions.

"Emis­sions are too high, the emis­sions are too toxic and Texas wa­ter is be­ing harmed," said EPA re­gional di­rec­tor, Al Ar­men­dariz. The EPA is "putting pol­i­tics ahead of the en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues," said Bryan Shaw, chair­man of the Texas Com­mis­sion on En­vi­ron­men­tal Qual­ity.

Texas and the EPA have dis­agreed for years over pol­lu­tion reg­u­la­tion, but the hos­til­ity in­ten­si­fied re­cently with Repub­li­can Gov. Rick Perry ac­cus­ing the EPA and the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion of over­step­ping bound­aries and med­dling in states' rights. With a more con­ser­va­tive state Leg­is­la­ture about to con­vene next year, there's ap­petite to keep up that fight.

The EPA, mean­while, by flex­ing its mus­cles in Texas, may be able to send a mes­sage to other states that the days when the agency al­lowed con­tentious is­sues to lan­guish un­re­solved have ended. Other states have had their dif­fer­ences with the EPA, and at least a dozen have come to­gether in a law­suit - along with Texas - chal­leng­ing new green­house gas reg­u­la­tions. -Ap

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