Texas' Clean Air Act Alamo May Win the Environmental War for us All

by Victor Flatt | June 04, 2010

In the little-followed but hugely important “joint federalism” system through which our environmental laws are implemented, a seismic change may be afoot that could vastly improve environmental compliance and environmental quality in the future.

Last week, Al Armendariz, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Region VI, indicated that unless significant changes are made by July 1, 2010, the EPA will take over Texas’s Clean Air Act program because of failures to follow the requirements of the Clean Air Act. The EPA last week already took control of an important Title V permit in Corpus Christi, and noted specific and severe deficiencies in 39 other Texas permits, indicating that it would take over them as well. This is significant in and of itself since it shows that the EPA is willing to use its over-filing powers as much as necessary to try and correct permit problems in a state air program. But setting a specific date to take over the entire state Clean Air Program is unprecedented.

A general reading of the CAA would not indicate that this is such a big deal. In fact the CAA specifically notes that if a state fails to follow the minimum federal requirements necessary in its state implementation plan (SIP) for the CAA, the federal government must implement a Federal Implementation Plan, and can also take control of all of the CAA program. This was designed as a failsafe to ensure that the states met the minimum ...

McGarity Op-ed in Austin American-Statesman Critiques TCEQ Water Proposal

by Ben Somberg | March 19, 2010
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has recently proposed to weaken water quality standards in the state. As the Austin American-Statesman reported earlier this week,  The proposal would draw new categories for Texas' waterways, basing regulations on how much humans have contact with them. And it would raise the amount of allowable bacteria in the waterways before they are considered impaired, requiring local and state authorities to monitor and clean them. Today CPR Member Scholar Thomas McGarity has an op-ed ...

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