Our neighbors in Texas have found a way to increase refinery and chemical plant production while lowering emissions. To show appreciation and reward these efforts, the EPA is shutting the program down.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has, since 1994, been issuing what it refers to as “flexible permits.” Rather than measure the emissions of the individual production units within a refinery or chemical complex, they permit and measure the total net emissions of the facility. EPA claims this permitting process violates the Clean Air Act.
Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX) said
There has been a 22% reduction in ozone and 46% decrease in NOX emissions in Texas since 2000 all while increasing output. From 2000-2009, Texas’ annual refinery operable crude oil distillation capacity increased by 11.9%. There should be a solution that protects the flexible program – which has improved air quality in Texas – without the heavy hand of the federal government.
Others have said that the EPA is miffed because Texas found a way to solve a problem on its own, without EPA involvement or worse, approval.
Gov. Rick Perry has suggested that this is but another example of the Obama administration overstepping its authority, noting that Texas will continue to fight the federal takeover and shutdown of a successful state program. Another argument over state’s rights and the Constitution may be in the making. As for now, about 125 chemical plants and refineries will have to spend millions of dollars to obtain new permits.
We are left to wonder, as we have wondered regarding the Gulf oil spill – is it the EPA’s quest to clean up the environment, or to shut down an industry?