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Texas At Center of Conflicting Pollution Lawsuits

Texas At Center of Conflicting Pollution Lawsuits

Has the Obama administration gone too far in the name of fighting climate change?  Texas thinks so, and the state Monday made it's case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Utility companies in Texas and elsewhere argue the Environmental Protection Agency essentially re-wrote the law when it began regulating greenhouse gas emissions from refineries and power plants by requiring a permit process.

Texas Solicitor General Jonathan Mitchell argued the portion of the Clean Air Act that the EPA uses to impose the permitting requirements was never intended to regulate greenhouse gases, so the government can’t measure the impact emissions have on local air quality.

 

The Obama administration insists the permit process falls within the EPA's role to regulate pollution.

 

Justice Anthony Kennedy likely holds the swing vote on this issue.

Meantime, a federal judge in Waco is hearing arguments this week on the Sierra Club's complaint that Texas' largest electric generator has been spewing pollution from it's coal-fired plant in Tatum.

Environmentalists say its time Luminant Generation pay the piper.

“This is more than just a few malfunctions here and there,” says Sierra Club spokeswoman Jenna Garland.  “These are thousands of violations that have happened over a series of years.  This could be hours of too much soot pollution going into the air.”

The lawsuit is one of several targeting big energy companies that already have resulted in millions of dollars in fines and plant retooling.

“We know that Luminant has not made the upgrades and followed along with what other electric generating companies are doing in terms of keeping their coal plants well-maintained and keeping them up-to-date with modern pollution controls,” says Garland.

 

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