By Jim Forsyth
SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - Texas on Thursday filed a
fresh motion in federal appeals court to block the Obama
Administration's attempts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions
in the state, one day after another federal court rejected the
At issue is the state's lawsuit against the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency to prevent the agency from
forcing it to issue greenhouse gas permits for its biggest
polluters when national carbon rules take effect in January.
Until there is a ruling on the case, Texas asked the U.S.
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans to block the
EPA's mandate that the state expand its pollution regulations
to include greenhouse gases.
The Fifth Circuit court denied that request on Wednesday.
On Thursday, EPA published in the Federal Register details
of its proposed permit rules for Texas to go into effect on
Sunday, January 2.
Texas officials then filed a fresh petition to block the
regulations in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of
Columbia, which generally has authority over federal agencies.
The petition argues that EPA's creation of the new rules is
an "improper overreach" that violates the federal Clean Air
Act, which it said "declares pollution prevention to be 'the
primary responsibility of States and local governments,' and
not the federal government."
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said the state was
determined to fight the EPA's intentions, saying that Congress
had rejected such carbon rules but the EPA was now trying to
legislate them itself through administrative rules.
"Texas law does not currently deem greenhouse gases to be
pollutants," Abbott said. "Once again, the federal government
is overreaching, and improperly intruding upon the state of
Texas and its legal rights."
Backed by a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision, the EPA
issued a finding last year that carbon dioxide and other
greenhouse gases endanger human health and welfare.
Since then the agency has moved forward with developing
rules under the Clean Air Act to limit emissions blamed for
climate change. Beginning Jan. 2, EPA will require large
emitters such as power plants, refineries and cement makers to
to obtain permits for polluting greenhouse gases.
EPA also said it will issue permits for Texas, which has
refused to adopt rules for emissions. Opponents of the climate
rules say they will hurt the economy and kill jobs.
Earlier this year, Abbott said, EPA indicated it would give
states one year to implement new greenhouse gas limits before
taking control of permits.
"Today, the EPA said that, rather than giving Texas even a
year, it would unilaterally take over the state's air
permitting responsibilities on January 2, 2011," Abbott said.
The petition asks the appeals court to step in immediately
and halt the EPA's "exercise in administrative fiat."
The Texas petition was filed on behalf of various state
agencies including those overseeing oil and gas, agriculture,
utilities and land use.
(Editing by Peter Bohan)
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