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Texas takes EPA fight to Congress

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Luminant’s CEO David Campbell told the Texas Senate Natural Resource Committee Tuesday that the company is willing to keep 500 employees and continue to operate mines and coal plants if EPA changes its Cross State Air Pollution Rule. The Environmental Protection Agency’s rule released earlier this summer requires Texas to cut sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by 47 percent beginning January 1, 2012. Thursday the debate will move to Washington and the House Science, Space and Technology Committee.

Luminant isn’t closing these plants because of EPA regulation – that’s just their cover story”, said Jim Marston Environmental Defense Fund’s Texas Regional Office and Energy Program Director. “They are closing the plants because they did not act timely. Unlike most other utilities in Texas, Luminant did not begin to make reductions to meet the rule that anyone could see was coming”.

But according to both Dallas-based Luminant and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), Texas was not included in the 2010 draft rule, and therefore not given adequate notice.

“EPA modeling did not support it, but a year later EPA switches opinion and decides to include Texas, that is opposite of a stable and predictable regulatory framework”, said David Campbell.

Congressman Ralph Hall (R-TX), chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, is also critical of the new EPA rule.

“Less than a year ago, the EPA concluded that Texas SO2 emissions had no significant downwind effects. By developing flexible approaches to environmental problems while creating jobs, Texas has reduced its sulfur dioxide emission rate to 24% below the national average and its NOx emissions to 42 % below the national rate” Hall said. “The EPA, however, has made an abrupt 180 degree reversal without fair notice, mandating compliance to the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule in less than five months. Typically, it would take several years to comply with this type of mandate”

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