AUSTIN – The Texas Public Policy Foundation today made public a May 13, 2011, letter from Kathleen Hartnett White, Director of the Foundation’s Armstrong Center for Energy & the Environment, to Texas House Environmental Regulation Chairman Wayne Smith.

The letter urges Chairman Smith and his House colleagues to uphold House Bill 2694, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) sunset bill, which deals in part with the issuance of permits under the federal Clean Air Act. The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Region Six Deputy Regional Administrator, Lawrence Starfield, issued a letter on April 29 to Chairman Glenn Hegar of the Sunset Advisory Commission, in which he declared that HB 2694 errs on two counts:

– In establishing a point in permitting processes at which applicable rules, guidance and policies are fixed. – In placing the burden of proof on an affected party that contests a permit.

The letter from Ms. White, who served as TCEQ Chairman and Commissioner from 2001 through 2007, contests the EPA’s claims, noting that its first objection is simply contrary to plain rule of law; and on the second, observing that federal law does not preclude HB 2694’s stricture. Ms. White further states that the EPA’s action is part of a pattern of increasingly inappropriate interference in Texas’s permitting program, preceded by the Agency’s disapproval of Texas’s flexible-permitting program and the unprecedented issuance of a federal Implementation Plan.

“Texas has had tremendous success with its permitting system under the Clean Air Act, with some of the nation’s cleanest air to show for it” said Ms. White, “In that light, the EPA’s intervention in Texas lawmaking here is not justifiable on any environmental-protection grounds. It is simply the assertion of federal power despite Texas’s proven record – and despite the meaning and intent of the Tenth Amendment. Texans who want our state’s success under the Clean Air Act to continue should join in urging the Texas House Environmental Regulation Committee to reject the EPA’s unwarranted interference on HB 2694.”

Kathleen Hartnett White is Director of the Armstrong Center for Energy and Environment at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a non-profit, free-market research institute based in Austin. She was commissioner and chairman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality from 2001 to 2007. The Texas Public Policy Foundation is a non-profit free-market research institute based in Austin.

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