AUSTIN (Apr. 29, 2015) – Yesterday, a Texas House committee held a hearing on a bill that would effectively nullify in practice the implementation of new EPA rules within the state.

Introduced by Rep. Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth), House Bill 3590 (HB3590) would deny state-level compliance with new EPA rules under the federal Clean Air Act. The bill reads, in part:

The commission or another state agency, including the Public Utility Commission, may not finally adopt a rule or submit a state implementation plan to comply with the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s rules under Section 111(d) of the federal Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. Section 7411) if those federal rules give the Environmental Protection Agency authority to regulate a person, entity, or activity that it did not regulate on January 1, 2015.

The Public Utilities Commission of Texas is the primary authority responsible for ensuring that this state complies with and implements a Clean Power Plan. Should the bill pass, the EPA would be left without an agency to implement their standards in Texas, and lacks the manpower to do so on its own.

It received its first hearing in the House Environmental Regulation Committee on April 28. In spite of some limited opposition, the hearing was rather straight forward.

“Basically [HB3590] just says under Section 111(d), which is the Clean Power Plan promulgated by the EPA, Texas is not going to voluntary submit a state implementation plan,” Rep. Krause said about his bill during the committee hearing.

Rep. Krause made it clear that he wants the state of Texas to “work within a framework that is reasonable and that has been in place for awhile” pertaining to environmental issues. He said the EPA is overstepping its boundaries, and the federal agency is attempting to push Texas and other states into accepting a plan that has received widespread criticism.

“When [the rules are] so sweeping, when it seems like both sides [of the political spectrum] agree that it’s so over-broad and that it probably won’t withstand Constitutional challenges, I don’t think that the state should voluntary submit itself under the onerous regulations,” Rep. Krause said.

Rep. Krause mentioned that, under his legislation, the responsibility for concocting a Clean Power Plan for Texas would fall upon the EPA, and the federal agency would be responsible for enforcing those rules on its own. He did not receive any questions from the committee members who were hearing the bill.

Four citizens, including representatives from Eagle Forum and the Texas Public Policy Foundation, spoke in favor of the bill. Lobbyists from the Sierra Club and First Solar testified against the bill. In his closing comments, Rep. Krause urged Texas lawmakers to take a ‘wait and see approach’ instead of rushing headlong into compliance with EPA demands.

HB3590 was left as pending business by the House Environmental Regulation Committee. It will receive an official vote from the committee at a currently unscheduled date.

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