- Associated Press - Thursday, July 29, 2010

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -  Texas officials on Monday appealed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to overturn a 16-year-old state air-pollution-permitting program.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott filed the petition for reconsideration with the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

The EPA ruled last month that the state’s “flexible permit” program violated the Clean Air Act, which requires state-issued permits to set limits on each of the dozens of individual production units inside a plant. The state’s program set a general limit on how much air pollution an entire facility can release.

The EPA’s decision will force about 125 refineries and petrochemical plants to invest millions of dollars to get new permits. Many plants also may have to invest in updates to comply with federal regulations.

In his appeal, Mr. Abbott wrote that the flexible permit program “improves air quality while helping regulators and regulated entities operate more efficiently.”

The EPA did not immediately return a message seeking comment on the appeal.

Gov. Rick Perry praised the appeal in a statement Monday, saying that “the EPA’s overreach is as potentially devastating as it is unnecessary.”

The EPA’s move came after years of bickering and negotiations between the federal agency and Texas. The argument recently escalated from a battle over environmental issues into a heated political dispute over states’ rights.

Mr. Perry has been using the issue to drive home his contention that President Obama’s administration is overreaching.



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