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The Environmental Protection Agency says it may completely take over the job of air regulation in Texas if the state fails to clean up its act. EPA chief Al Armendariz made the statement about Texas air pollution after the federal government announced it would issue an operating permit for a single refinery in that state while taking over 39 other permits.
"Do we also think the deficiencies are serious enough to go that route? The answer is yes," Armendariz said.
The EPA says that Texas continues to violate the Clean Air Act. The federal environmental agency has requested assurances that by July 1, Texas will comply with the Act. Texas air pollution leads the nation in greenhouse gas emissions; though perhaps it is not surprising, as the state also has more refineries, chemical plants and coal power plants than any other in the nation.
However, Texas Governor Rick Perry calls the action another sign of a bloated federal government run amok, and seems set to use the move to boost his anti-federal government campaign. Perry is running for re-election in Texas and has campaigned on a platform emphasizing state's rights.
"The Obama administration has taken yet another step in its campaign to harm our economy and impose federal control over Texas ... in defense of not only our clean air program but also our rights under the 10th Amendment, I am calling upon President Obama to rein in the EPA," Perry said.
This is part of an ongoing dispute between the EPA and environmental regulators in Texas. State regulators dispute the EPA's assessment that Texas is violating the clean air act by releasing excessive toxins from refineries.