Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is asking the Fifth U.S. Court of Appeals to throw out the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's ruling earlier this year that metro San Antonio is in 'marginal non compliance' with federal clean air standards, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
“The ozone rule will force costly regulations on a number of Texas counties,” Paxton said. “We are continually and successfully reducing ambient ozone concentrations without stifling economic or population growth, and we will continue to do so without the EPA’s overreaching regulations.”
Paxton's court filing claims that the EPA essentially makes rules for air quality standards as it goes along, pointing out that the eight county region's air was a lot dirtier when it was in compliance with federal ozone standards than it is today when it is out of compliance.
"The EPA's designation would impose an unwarranted financial burden on the Texas economy with minimal, if any, public health benefit," Paxton wrote in his legal brief, which has the support of Gov. Abbott.
It is also being backed by northwest side Councilman Greg Brockhouse.
"While it is a tough and uphill battle to fight the EPA’s decision, our residents and businesses should not be subject to potentially unnecessary regulatory burdens," Brockhouse said, while pointing out that San Antonio's air is cleaner today, despite the region's large population growth, due to efforts being made at the local level, and he said those efforts should be allowed to continue.
The EPA designation will have no immediate effect, but it could eventually lead to restrictions on new highway construction, expensive tailpipe emissions testing required for every vehicle each year, and limits on new employers coming to the city. Technically, the EPA even has the authority to impose 55 mile an hour speed limits on all highways in a non-attainment zone.
Paxton points out that the EPA moved the goalposts in the year before San Antonio was declared in non attainment, lowering the standard for compliance at a time when San Antonio's ozone levels were also falling.
"Texas has clearly demonstrated that it can clean its air without harming the energy sector. Nitrogen oxides and ozone levels have both decreased over the past 18 years and Texans are breathing increasingly cleaner air," Paxton said.
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