he has sued the Environmental Protection Agency. Clean air and clean water just aren't his thing.
While he hasn't yet sued over the issue, Abbott is in yet another tangle with the EPA that could lead to a lawsuit. This time it's over the EPA's proposed Waters of the United States rule under the Clean Water Act. The proposed rule has a ways to go before it is finalized. The public comment period continues until October. On Monday, Abbott sent a letter to the EPA on the matter. An excerpt:
“[T]he proposed rule … would erode private property rights and have devastating effects on the landowners of Texas.”"Over-reaching" is far from how EPA administrator Gina McCarthy views the rule, which was developed by the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers. She says the rule will clarify what is now confusing and will not "expand the scope of waters historically protected under the Clean Water Act." For example, ditches would be less regulated than they are now, according to the EPA website, because those dug through dry land that don't have water in them year round are specifically excluded from the rule.
“Under this proposed definition, it is difficult to envision any lands—especially those that lie near the coast—that are not potentially within the ambit of federal jurisdiction. This broad and overreaching definition would impose virtually no limit on federal jurisdiction …”
“Perhaps more troubling…is the federal agencies’ explicit inclusion of ‘ditches’ as ‘waters of the United States.’ Under this untenable and legally baseless definition, any landowner who has a ditch on his or her private property is at risk of having the federal government exert regulation over that ditch and impose burdensome and expensive federal regulations over dry land that does not remotely resemble any common-sense understanding of ‘waters of the United States.’
There is more below the fold.
In a op-ed published when the proposed rule was announced in March, McCarthy wrote:
The law didn't just defend the mighty Mississippi or our Great Lakes; it also protected the smaller streams and wetlands that weave together a vast, interconnected system. It recognized the dangers of dumping toxic pollution upstream, because healthy downstream lakes and rivers are beholden to the streams and wetlands that feed them.While Abbott likes to brag about how many times he's sued the administration, he doesn't like to talk about how many cases he's lost. That would be more than three-fourths of them, at tremendous expense to Texas taxpayers. Marcelo Norsworthy at Texas Clean Air Matters takes note of several, including:
Incredibly, one in three Americans -- more than 117 million people -- get their drinking water from these types of streams and headwaters. [...]
Without Clean Water Act protections -- there's often nothing stopping sewage, toxic chemicals, or some other worst-case water scenario from threatening our health and livelihoods. Unfortunately, over the last decade, the Clean Water Act has been bogged down by confusion. Two complex court decisions narrowed legal protections and muddled everyone's understanding of what waters are -- or are not -- covered under the law. Protections have been especially confusing for those smaller, vital interconnected streams and wetlands.
One crusade began in 2010 when Abbott and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), the state’s environmental protection agency, refused to issue greenhouse gas permits to industrial facilities in the state, effectively leaving Texas industry with their hands tied. Without a path forward, EPA began issuing permits through a Federal Implementation Plan. In the end, it was industry that spoke up and complained to TCEQ that the situation created by Abbott’s hardheaded stance placed the state at a competitive disadvantage. As of 2014, TCEQ begrudgingly began issuing permits.As Ari Phillips at Think Progress notes, whether it's mandating clean air or clean water, Abbott could be expected follow in the footsteps of Gov. Rick Perry if he wins the governorship in his hotly contested race against Democrat Wendy Davis.
The State of Texas not only impeded businesses by refusing to issue the necessary permits, but also sued EPA arguing that the Agency lacked authority to regulate greenhouse gases and administer the permitting program. Dealing a blow to Abbott, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit sided with EPA.