Clean air and good jobs; When it comes down to it, that's the legacy of Texas' existing air permitting program.
Operating from a position mired in bureaucracy, however, the EPA is determined to "federalize" our 16-year-old system. It's a move that will kill tens of thousands of Texas jobs and effectively kick the legs out from under one of the strongest economies in the country during a time when our national economy remains on shaky ground.
They certainly can't find fault with what Texas has accomplished under our system:
- Texas reduced ozone 22 percent and slashed NOx emissions by 46 percent between 2000 and 2008. That beats the nationwide trend, with ozone declining 8 percent and NOx falling just 27 percent.
- Despite a population that grows by 1,000 people a day, since 2000, Texas has cut carbon dioxide emissions more than every other state in the union, except for Louisiana, and more than any other country in the world except for Germany.
- Every county in Texas is within federal standards for fine particulate matter, which are among the pollutants with the greatest effect on human health.
- We've added more wind power generation capacity than any state, more than all but four other countries.
- During roughly the same time frame, Texas employers have created more jobs than any other state in America.
Any one of those accomplishments alone should compel Washington to commission studies on what we're doing right in the Lone Star State. Viewed as a whole, our environmental efforts tell a success story unparalleled anywhere in the nation.
However, instead of replicating our successful formula, the EPA has instituted a crackdown on the very policies that have enabled us to lead the nation in improved air quality and job creation.
Attacking us has nothing to do with environmental protection.
This isn't even a partisan issue. The Texas System that the EPA is condemning was put into place under Gov. Ann Richards, a Democrat, and operated in full under the watch of President Bill Clinton's administration.
Today's EPA has adopted an activist mindset that energy jobs are bad and crippling regulations are good.
Like many activists, it appears the EPA has decided the traditional energy industry must be put out of business, no matter the catastrophic damage that would be done to our economy and national security.
Texas' success is a problem for those who feel that way, because we're proving you can improve the environment and diversify your energy portfolio without gutting the existing system.
Even the words used by EPA Regional Director Al Armendariz betray this fact, when he says that our permitting system is not "federally consistent." He doesn't say "ineffective," because that's demonstrably false. Instead, he indicates that our system is unacceptable simply because it's different from what he interprets as the federal standard.
Never mind that our system is working better than the rest of the country.
Part of the power of a republic is each state is constitutionally free to deal with challenges their own way, since they generally have a far better grasp of the local landscape than some unelected bureaucrat in a DC office.
States must be free to experiment with new ideas and new approaches that can lead to breakthroughs and an increased competitive edge. If appropriate, these breakthroughs can be replicated, as other states seek workable solutions to challenges they face.
When the federal government -- as it's doing in our case -- stamps out the ability of states to search for their own solutions, that source of innovation is stamped out, as well. When that happens, everybody loses, from Maine to California.
In our case, however, they're not just stamping out something that might work, they're crushing a system that's been proven successful for nearly a generation.
Texas has cleaner air and more jobs under our system. Those are undisputed facts.
However, EPA officials aren't looking for results; they want federal control.