Texas Railroad Commission wants EPA's cross-state pollution rule challenged

The Fort Worth Star-TelegramAugust 25, 2011 

The Texas Railroad Commission is asking Attorney General Greg Abbott to "bring a prompt legal action" to delay implementation of a new Environmental Protection Agency rule that state officials say would jeopardize electric reliability in the state.

Luminant, the Dallas-based power generator, maintains that the planned Jan. 1 implementation of the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, designed to curb air pollution from power plants, would force it to mothball some operations and would significantly lower revenue as a result of reduced electricity generation and wholesale power sales.

The biggest impact is expected to be at Luminant plants in East Texas that burn lignite coal, which the company also mines in the region.

The Railroad Commission, in a letter to Abbott dated Tuesday, said the rule "will have serious adverse economic consequences for Texas without demonstrable environmental and health benefits."

The commission said the rule "threatens the viability of the Texas lignite mining industry, its jobs and associated economic activity" and "many coal-fired power plants may be forced to limit or shut down operations" as a result of the regulation.

The commission noted that it regulates the surface mining of lignite coal.

"About 45 percent of the electric power generated in Texas comes from coal, and almost 40 percent of that coal is Texas lignite, which provides Texans with jobs and a low-cost fuel," the commission said in the letter.

The "potential loss of lignite for power significantly threatens electric reliability in Texas" and is needed "to keep the lights on," the commission added. The chairwoman of the Public Utility Commission and officials who run the state's power grid have expressed similar concerns.

EPA officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

The attorney general's office also did not immediately respond to a Star-Telegram request for information as to whether it intended to comply with the commission's request.

To read the complete article, visit www.star-telegram.com.

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