Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who became a millionaire after suing the owner of a tree that fell on him and left him in a wheelchair then ran for his current office on a “tort reform” platform, has signed on with the Bush Assministration in opposing the regulatio of carbon dioxide emissions over he objections of the Texas’ own environmental regulatory agency.
It’s not much of a stretch to say global warming policy will be on trial at the U.S. Supreme Court today.
Twelve states are squaring off against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which they say has failed to do its job by refusing to limit emissions of carbon dioxide, a heat-trapping greenhouse gas.
But in Texas, where the state climatologist says global warming is a pressing concern and scientists say the Gulf Coast could be flooded within the century, the attorney general has joined a smaller coalition of states that sides with the EPA, which says the gas is not a dangerous air pollutant.
The Texas attorney general’s office did not even consult the state’s environmental agency before signing onto the legal brief submitted to the high court, according to one of the agency’s commissioners.
“The State of Texas’ intervention in this case wasn’t derived from any formal request” from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, said Larry Soward, one of three members of the commission. “This agency did not ask the attorney general to intervene in the lawsuit on our behalf, nor have we been involved.
“It’s routine or common course for the agency with regulatory authority to be integrally involved. And that hasn’t been the case.”
Texas is the No. 1 emitter of carbon dioxide nationally, with roughly a third coming from tailpipes, a third from industries and a third from utilities.
Texas has gained national attention, for instance, for plans by utility companies to build coal-fired power plants, which would add about 115 million tons of carbon dioxide annually into the atmosphere. The carbon dioxide emissions from 11 of the new plants, proposed by TXU Corp., would be the equivalent of adding 10 million Cadillac Escalades on the road, according to the nonprofit Environmental Defense.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry has supported the plant proposals and has been routinely attacked by environmentalists because of it, despite the state’s taking a lead in renewable energy generation.
“Texas is one of the few places that refuses to be part of the discussion in how to limit emissions,” said Colin Rowan, a spokesman for Environmental Defense. “We should hold ourselves accountable to how much we emit.”