EPA Uses Speculation to Reach Damaging Decision
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a decision yesterday to include Wise County in the Dallas-Fort Worth ozone nonattainment area, thereby potentially negatively impacting area businesses and posing significant economic costs to Wise County citizens. Despite the concerted efforts of Senator Craig Estes, Governor Rick Perry, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), and several Wise County political leaders, the EPA has once again overstepped its bounds, demonstrating gross negligence and a style of leadership that lacks any regard for balanced, science-based consideration.
In a letter dated January 11, 2012, the TCEQ asserted that there is no scientific justification for this decision. Wise County does not have a federal regulatory ozone monitor, and the TCEQ has provided evidence that emissions for Wise County are in fact substantially lower than those cited by the EPA. "Apparently the Administration's pledge to 'crucify' oil and gas companies also extends to the hardworking families and business leaders of Wise County," said Senator Craig Estes. "Texas is well equipped to reduce emissions with common sense solutions, not over regulation." Despite growing populations, ozone levels in Texas have decreased by 27% statewide in the last decade.
Perhaps most troubling, the TCEQ presented evidence illustrating that Dallas-Fort Worth significantly contributes to ozone levels in Wise County, not the other way around. This begs the question: How does punishing a county for actions outside its control increase protection of public health and the environment? "The EPA justified its decision with speculative evidence based on meteorology rather than scientific, reliable monitoring," said Estes. "Once again, Texans are caught in the political crosshairs of an overzealous agency run amuck."
Senator Estes is Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Affairs, and represents Senate District 30 covering Archer, Baylor, Clay, Collin (part), Cooke, Denton (part), Grayson, Jack, Montague, Parker, Palo Pinto, Shackelford, Stephens, Throckmorton, Wichita, Wilbarger, Wise, and Young counties.