Texas asks court to take action on regional haze rule

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) announced March 18 that the state has requested a stay preventing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from imposing “draconian” new regulations until after a Texas lawsuit challenging the new rules is decided in court.

Texas filed suit against the EPA in February after it rejected Texas’ seven-year-old proposed revision to its State Implementation Plan (SIP) for reducing regional haze.

“The EPA admits this plan would cost billions, with no perceptible improvement in air quality,” Attorney General Paxton said. “Much like its like-minded Clean Power Plan, this is a case of the EPA attempting to restructure the national electric grid, without the authority to do so.”

In January, the EPA rejected the state’s plan in favor of a Federal Implementation Plan (FIP) that would force electricity producers to enact expensive changes, and – by effectively closing some power plants prematurely – could cause the Texas grid to become less reliable.

The Regional Haze rule regards the public’s ability to clearly see sights at U.S. National Parks, including Big Bend and Guadalupe Mountains National Parks. Under the FIP, power generators would have to install costly, unnecessary upgrades to become compliant. This could both make electricity more expensive, and could result in fewer plants at a time when Texas needs more capacity, not less.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. Fifth Circuit. It was filed on behalf of the state of Texas; the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and the Public Utility Commission of Texas. (PUCT).

Companies such as Luminant Generation, Nucor and NRG Energy (NYSE:NRG) are listed among the petitioners in the case, No. 16-60118. The filing from Texas includes the EPA Federal Register notice from Jan. 5.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.