Nation’s Biggest Polluter : Texas Sues the EPA!

Houston: Texas likes its greenhouse gases. Photo by David J. Phillip / AP.

Protecting the corporate interests:
Texas sues EPA over greenhouse gas regulations

By Ted McLaughlin / The Rag Blog / February 16, 2010

There is no doubt at all that the state of Texas is by far the biggest polluter in the United States. It is such a bad polluter that it makes other large state polluters like California, New York, Ohio, and Illinois look like paragons of cleanliness by comparison. In fact, if Texas were a country it would be the seventh largest polluter in the entire world.

For the eight environmentally devastating years of the Bush administration, Texas had a protected status thanks to Texan George Bush and pseudo-Texan Dick Cheney. They refused to let the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declare greenhouse gases as pollution or put any kind of onerous restrictions on Texas polluters. But with the election of Barack Obama that has changed.

Last year, the EPA finally came to its senses and declared greenhouse gases to be pollution. That means their production can now be restricted and the EPA can finally take serious steps to clean up the massive pollution problem in Texas.

This gave the state leadership in Austin a choice. They can act in concert with the EPA and actually make Texas a safer and healthier place for its citizens (especially children with conditions like asthma) and provide a better future for the country and world by controlling and cutting back on greenhouse gases. Or they can fight the ruling and protect corporate polluters.

To anyone familiar with the state’s Republican leadership, it was certainly no mystery which choice the state would make. A quick look at how ineffective and utterly useless the Railroad Commission (which controls oil and gas production) and the Commission on Environmental Quality (which controls other pollution, including radioactive waste) are would tell anyone what the answer would be.

Texas Republican leaders, from the elected officials to those appointed by them, were long ago bought and paid for by the corporations. They are always going to act to protect the corporate polluters, regardless of how much that destroys the quality of life for ordinary citizens.

On Tuesday, Governor Rick Perry, Attorney General Greg Abbott, and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples once again pledged their fealty to their corporate masters by announcing they had filed suit against the EPA to overturn the greenhouse gases decision. These global climate change deniers say the EPA decision is based on “bogus conclusions” and would cause “billions of dollars of economic damage in Texas.”

Governor Perry declared, “The EPA’s misguided plan paints a big target on the backs of Texas agriculture and energy producers and the hundreds of thousands of Texans they employ.” The governor would like for everyone to believe that the poor energy producers would go out of business and cost Texas thousands of jobs if they had to clean up the pollution they are currently filling the air with.

That’s a ridiculous assertion. These are the same corporations that are reaping record windfall profits in the middle of a serious recession. They can easily afford to use cleaner technologies and renewable energy sources. In addition, moving to greener energy would undoubtably create many more jobs than the clean-up would cost.

The environmental groups Public Citizen and the Sierra Club have delivered a symbolic “citizen citation” to Governor Perry, demanding that he “cease and desist endangering the health of breathers, the economy and the climate in Texas.” While I approve of their action, I doubt it will have much effect on the state’s Republican leaders.

I enjoy political theater as much as anyone, but what is really needed is to replace these Republican leaders with Democrats in the coming general election. I’m not sure replacing Perry with leading Democrat Blue Dog Bill White will do much good, since he is a corporate-owned conservative in Democratic clothing, but replacing others could do a lot of good.

This nonsensical lawsuit could be stopped by replacing the Attorney General with Democrat Barbara Radnofsky, and replacing the Agriculture Commissioner with either Kinky Friedman or Hank Gilbert — all of whom are progressives who will fight to clean up the Texas environment (and Texas politics).

I wish I could say there’s a good chance of that happening this November, but I don’t think there is. In the last couple of decades, Texas voters have proven to be easily deluded by the Republicans. Republicans know they can get most Texas voters to vote against their own interests by addressing fringe issues that don’t really affect most Texans but appeals to their bigotry (homosexual, minority, and immigrant rights) and their religious fundamentalism (gay and lesbian marriage, prayer in schools, and intelligent design).

I’m afraid we’re probably going to have to rely on the courts to rein in the corporate polluters, and that’s not good news either. I expect the state (and the polluters) will appeal all the way to the Supreme Court. That conservative court has already declared the corporations to be “people” with the right to spend as much as they want in political campaigns to protect their interests. From there, it’s just a small step to giving them the right to pollute as well.

I wish I could be more positive about this issue, but frankly the future looks pretty dim for citizens and the environment and very bright for the corporate polluters.

[Rag Blog contributor Ted McLaughlin also posts at jobsanger.]

The Rag Blog

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2 Responses to Nation’s Biggest Polluter : Texas Sues the EPA!

  1. JoJo says:

    kinky friedman is not a progressive.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Seems Texas and Alberta have a lot in common!

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