Texas files suit against EPA over regional haze plan

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

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) announced the litigation in a Feb. 29 news release. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and the Texas Public Utility Commission are listed as the petitioners in the case against EPA and Administrator Gina McCarthy.

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 could cause the Texas grid to become less reliable, according to the state.

The EPA decision on the Texas plan was published in the Jan. 5 Federal Register. GenerationHub previously reported that EPA called for a federal plan that includes sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission limits for fifteen electric generating units located at eight coal-fired power plants.

“Texas already has a plan that meets the standards of the Clean Air Act, however, once again, the Obama Administration is misinterpreting and misusing federal agencies to force through a radical agenda based more on the beliefs of his environmentalist base than on common sense,” Paxton said. “The steps Washington is demanding we take are extraordinarily expensive, will result in a less-reliable electric grid and ultimately have no significant effect on visibility in Texas.”

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, according to the news release.

Earlier this month, Texas – along with West Virginia and 27 other states and state agencies – won a major victory against the EPA in a different case when the U.S. Supreme Court put an immediate halt to the EPA Clean Power Plan while litigation continues in the D.C. Circuit Court. The D.C. Circuit Court will hear oral arguments on the merits of that case on June 2.

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.