Paxton seeks halt to regional haze rules

By Ed Sterling | Published Wednesday, March 23, 2016

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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on March 18 asked an appeals court to prevent the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from implementing new regional haze regulations until a trial of the state’s pending lawsuit challenging the new rules.

Paxton filed the 328-page motion in the New Orleans-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

In February, Paxton filed suit, acting on behalf of the State of Texas and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the Public Utility Commission of Texas and a list of power-generating companies. The suit came after the EPA in January rejected Texas’ proposed revision to its state implementation plan for reducing regional haze.

The EPA rejected the state’s plan in favor of a federal plan that Paxton said would require power generators “to install costly, unnecessary upgrades to become compliant. This could both make electricity more expensive and could result in fewer plants at a time when Texas needs more capacity, not less.”


Gov. Greg Abbott issued an emergency disaster proclamation on March 14 and two days later revised it to include a total of 21 counties to address severe weather and flooding.

The disaster proclamation applies to the counties of Angelina, Erath, Gregg, Hardin, Harrison, Henderson, Hood, Jasper, Jefferson, Liberty, Madison, Marion, Newton, Orange, Parker, Sabine, San Augustine, Shelby, Smith, Tyler and Walker.

Abbott toured the area to survey damage from the storms, which began March 7.

Gov. Abbott on March 18 requested individual assistance and public assistance for Orange, Jasper and Newton counties from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

On March 19, Abbott’s request was granted, opening the door for affected citizens in those counties to apply for federal individual assistance grants of up to $33,000 and low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

“As Southeast Texas continues to face severe weather, it is imperative that Texans receive the vital assistance needed to begin rebuilding and restoring their communities,” Abbott said.

Abbott said the state government is working with local partners “to ensure life safety needs continue to be met” and with federal government partners “to ensure Texans receive all eligible assistance they need to recover from, and ultimately surmount, the challenges posed by the flooding in Southeast Texas.”

At 11 p.m. on March 18, the Texas Department of Transportation said eastbound and westbound lanes of Interstate 10 at the Texas-Louisiana border had reopened, three days after the roadway was closed because of rising waters. TxDOT officials said floodwaters had receded and affected areas would be monitored and inspected.


February brought a double-digit increase in the number of business formations processed by the Office of the Texas Secretary of State compared to a year ago, the state agency reported March 8.

Some 15,325 certificates of formation were filed with the Texas Secretary of State in February, a 17.83 percent increase over February 2015, which saw the formation of 13,006 new business entities. These numbers exclude non-profit entity formations.

Secretary of State Carlos Cascos said, “Business owners take into consideration the state’s fair legal system, economic strength and low taxes when deciding to relocate or begin their businesses in Texas.”


The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on March 14 announced Texas game wardens, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Domestic Nuclear Detection Office and the U.S. Coast Guard “are deploying an impenetrable maritime border to stop the threat of radiological or nuclear material smuggling into U.S. waters.”

Coastal patrols will be using recently acquired advanced detection equipment designed to identify and intercept potential radiological or nuclear threats.

Since January, the Parks and Wildlife Department said, Texas game wardens have been conducting land search exercises, waterborne vessel stop exercises and dockside searches as part of an intensive training program on radiological and nuclear matter, and the use of the equipment to detect and identify dangerous materials.

Texas Game Warden Assistant Commander Cody Jones said, “While we focus on our core mission of conserving and protecting the state’s natural resources, enforcing game and fish laws and conducting water safety, it is imperative that we continue to deploy the tools required to keep our homeland safe from illegal activity and terroristic threats that face our nation.”

Ed Sterling is member services director for the Texas Press Association.

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