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Texas Sues EPA Over Haze Plan Enforcement

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View of lower Pine Spring Canyon and the Guadalupe Peak Trail from Hunter Peak in Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Texas is battling the EPA over regulations designed to control haze in the park. (National Park Service)
View of lower Pine Spring Canyon and the Guadalupe Peak Trail from Hunter Peak in Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Texas is battling the EPA over regulations designed to control haze in the park. (National Park Service)
March 7, 2016

AUSTIN, Texas - The state of Texas has sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for rejecting the state's haze reduction plan for national parks in the far western parts of the state.

The suit marks the 24th time Texas has brought legal action against the EPA over regulatory issues since President Obama took office in 2009.

Chrissy Mann, senior representative with the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign, says EPA guidelines require the state's coal-fired power plants to reduce pollutants such as particulate matter, nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide.

"If the state doesn't do that, then the EPA has to go in and issue a federal plan," says Mann. "And in the end, what happened is the EPA rejected Texas plan because the state didn't recognize that many of these facilities could actually reduce their sulfur dioxide pollution."

State officials have consistently maintained that Texas is complying with the Clean Air Act, and that the Obama administration is illegally interfering with the state's right to regulate its utilities.

They add the EPA plan's requirement to install scrubbers or other pollution-control equipment at the power plants is too expensive and would not be effective.

Mann says that instead of working out a plan that achieves the clean-air goals already attained in dozens of other states, Texas continues to use the courts to block or delay federal regulations that would clear the air over national parks and other parts of the state.

"We're disappointed that the state is choosing to other than go and work with EPA and industry to get these facilities cleaned up and improve the visibility in these parts," Mann says. "We're disappointed that they've chosen to litigate."

The EPA's Regional Haze Rule regulates air quality in Texas in Guadalupe Mountains National Park east of El Paso and Big Bend National Park on the Texas and Mexico border.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - TX