EPA Appears Willing to Change Enforcement Date on Flawed Air Pollution Rules, Then Does Nothing

It’s déjà vu all over again. For the second time, the entire Texas Congressional Delegation, with the exception of one member, wrote a letter last week urging the EPA to reevaluate and delay implementation of the Cross State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR). The new letter was inspired by the fact that while the agency has offered a few corrections to the original error-ridden rule, they’ve done nothing to address the egregious timeline for compliance that continues to threaten jobs and communities here in Texas. EPA’s minor modifications to the rule may be good public relations, but as we say in Texas, it’s all hat and no cattle.

Donna Nelson, Chairman of the Texas Public Utility Commission, expressed her concerns last week that the EPA’s adjustments to CSAPR have failed to move the January 1 date of implementation and the Agency still has not corrected obvious errors and flawed assumptions. Commissioner Nelson noted that “the EPA overstated the amount of Texas generation available in future years by more than 10,000 megawatts by including plants that are already retired and failing to adjust the state’s wind generating fleet to account for wind’s intermittent nature.”

She believes the EPA misled the Commission by acting eager to address the changes yet failing to come through. The EPA acknowledged its rather significant mistakes and then fooled industry leaders into thinking it would make changes to accommodate concerns about the economic impact of CSAPR. If the EPA has admitted to some errors in calculations and has expressed that there may be further changes to the rule, they don’t have a leg to stand on against a call for an overall stay to the rule. The EPA seems to be behaving like a child caught red-handed who admits the error of their ways bit by bit – hoping that by admitting a little bit of guilt, they will achieve full absolution for their sins. Fortunately, virtually the entire state’s Congressional delegation is refusing to play this silly game.

This all might be entertaining if the stakes weren’t so high. It’s not just jobs that are on the line here; the future of power reliability lies in the hands of the EPA. What’s next? Those of us in Texas, who rely so heavily on the economic benefit of well-paying jobs and affordable, reliable electricity, cannot afford to wait and find out. College students should be excited and enjoying their experience without worrying that their future jobs are being eliminated by a federal agency. The EPA needs to get its act together for the sake of our economy. It’s time for the EPA to “man up” to their mistakes and delay or modify CSAPR to at least allow for an adequate compliance timeline.

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