EPA notifies Texas of plan to add Hood and Wise counties to nonattainment area
AUSTIN – State Representatives Jim Keffer (R-Eastland) and Phil King (R-Weatherford) today called for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide scientific evidence to show why it is necessary that the EPA add Hood and Wise counties to the DFW nonattainment area. Late last week the EPA notified Texas officials that they planned to add the two counties to the current 9-county nonattainment area of: Collin, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Johnson, Kaufman, Parker, Rockwall and Tarrant counties based on the fact that Hood and Wise counties were part of the region being developed for natural gas in the Barnett Shale region. The EPA stated that due to increased ozone and air pollution in these areas, they believed the counties should be added.
Keffer and King stated that their concerns were based on the fact that new regulations will hurt the local economies of communities that they represent in the Texas House of Representatives, very possibly killing jobs in those areas when the regulations seem to be based on incomplete information and the desire of the federal government to further encroach on Texas’ sovereignty. They also added that it would be highly irresponsible for the EPA to implement any new regulations prior to fully considering any and all costs and economic impacts on the communities in question.
“The EPA refuses to work with local and state officials and has become a rogue federal agency that continues to attack Texas’ economy,” Keffer said, “That the EPA would blame oil and gas drilling as the reason for including Hood County in the nonattainment area when drilling in this county has declined significantly is just one example where EPA’s rhetoric doesn’t match reality.”
“I’m very concerned that these new regulations are based on bad science,” King stated, “For instance, the EPA must consider the unprecedented wildfires, heat, and drought that our area has gone through during 2010 and 2011. All of these can be contributing factors to increased ozone, and I believe the EPA has overlooked these issues. The way the EPA has been operating has most Texans concerned that their motivations are much more about political gamesmanship than they are about real science and protecting Texans.”
The representatives further explained that this attempt to add new air regulations seems to be the latest attempt of the federal government to encroach on Texas’ sovereignty. Over the past couple of years, the EPA has assumed control of regulating certain manufacturing and processing plants in Texas by invalidating Texas’ own successful Flexible Permits Program; devised a regulatory scheme for “cross-state emissions,” resulting in many Texas electric generation plants planning to shut down operations; injected themselves in local oil and gas production issues; and launched a study on Texas natural gas producers’ fracking procedures. All of these functions have been previously under the authority of the state of Texas.
The EPA said in its announcement that Texas has until Feb. 29 to submit additional information it wants considered regarding the nonattainment designations.
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