Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton today filed a petition against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for review by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit of the EPA’s final action designating Bexar County a nonattainment area for the 2015 national ambient air quality standard for ground-level ozone. The Governor previously designated Bexar County an attainment area for this standard, and the EPA overrode that designation. If allowed to stand, the EPA’s designation would impose an unwarranted financial burden on the Texas economy with minimal, if any, public health benefit.
Eight Texas counties are affected by the air quality designations made by the EPA in the ruling challenged by the state: Atascosa, Bandera, Bexar, Guadalupe, Comal, Kendall, Medina, and Wilson. Of those counties, only Bexar was designated nonattainment, an action that threatens unnecessary regulatory burdens, federal penalties, lost highway dollars, restriction on infrastructure investment, and increased costs to businesses.
“The ozone rule will force costly regulations on a number of Texas counties,” Attorney General 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.”
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.
The Texas Attorney General’s Office challenged the EPA’s underlying ozone rule on December 23, 2015 on behalf of the state and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. In addition to Texas, the following states filed separate lawsuits against the 2015 rule: Arizona, Arkansas, Kentucky, New Mexico, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Utah and Wisconsin. In June 2017, the EPA decided to give states more time to comply with the National Ambient Air Quality Standard.
View a copy of the petition (PDF).