AUSTIN — Texas ratcheted up its attack on the Obama administration's environmental policies on Tuesday, filing suit against the EPA over a declaration that could broaden government enforcement of carbon dioxide emissions.
Gov. Rick Perry, Attorney General Greg Abbott and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples announced the lawsuit at a joint news conference to declare that the two-month-old declaration is based on bogus conclusions and could cause billions of dollars of economic damage in Texas.
"The EPA's misguided plan paints a big target on the backs of Texas agriculture and energy producers and the hundreds of thousands of Texans they employ," Perry asserted.
But environmental groups quickly countered that Perry and the other leaders are ignoring scientific evidence about the dangers of global warming.
Austin leaders of Public Citizen and the Sierra Club went to Perry's second-floor office in the State Capitol to serve the Republican governor with a symbolic "citizen citation" demanding that Perry "cease and desist endangering the health of breathers, the economy and the climate in Texas."
The suit was filed in Washington in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The state will also file a "petition for reconsideration" with the Environmental Protection Agency calling on EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to review her declaration.
The EPA declared in December that carbon dioxide emissions constitute a threat to public health, opening the door to further regulation to control greenhouse gases. The policy could have a far-reaching impact on Texas, which produces more carbon dioxide than any other state and many countries.
Perry told Jackson in a letter shortly after the ruling that her agency’s mandate is based on distorted scientific claims and could wither jobs and the economy.
Abbott said the finding is legally unsupported because of the agency's reliance on the International Panel on Climate Change, which has been accused of basing its findings on discredited research and false claims.
Critics have contended that intercepted e-mails from British scientists suggest that data were distorted to overstate the dangers of global warming. The release of the e-mail conversations gave rise to what later became known as "Climategate."
"The EPA should not blindly accept what the world has begun to second-guess," said Abbott.
Dallas-Fort Worth has been struggling for years with an ozone pollution problem, linked to automobile traffic and industries. State regulators have conducted tests showing that toxic chemicals are being released from some natural gas wells in the Barnett Shale field, which surrounds Fort Worth.