"Battle Lines Forming Between EPA, State Environmental Agency"

"By the end of the month, the federal Environmental Protection Agency will probably declare that Texas' air permitting program lacks adequate public participation and transparency.

The decision, which could have profound and expensive consequences for power plants and petrochemical facilities across the state because it may force them to apply for new permits, is the latest sign of a widening rift between the Obama administration and Texas regulators on environmental policy.

For years, the Texas Legislature and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality have passed laws and established rules that tend to favor the interests of industry groups, according to environmentalists. Since the Clinton administration, the EPA has raised some questions about Texas regulations but never pressed for action.

That appears to be changing. The Obama administration has singled out the Texas air permitting program for review, and this month President Barack Obama picked Al Armendariz, an engineering professor and environmental advocate, as the new head of the EPA regional headquarters in Dallas."

Asher Price reports for the Austin American-Statesman November 15, 2009.

Source: Austin American-Statesman, 11/16/2009