Hey Louisiana and Texas, “E” stands for “environment” not “emissions”

Let’s face it, the potential consequences of climate change are staring us in the face here in the Gulf. These consequences, such as sea level rise, increased storm intensity, and ocean acidification (which decimates coral populations) are already impacting our communities, fisheries, and wildlife. Looking through this lens, it is quite discouraging to see that two Gulf states, Louisiana and Texas, are aggressively speaking out against EPA regulation of greenhouse gasses. These letters all stem from an “endangerment finding” from the EPA, as well as an associated proposed rule regarding the regulation of some greenhouse gas emitters. The most discouraging thing about both of these letters is the distinct absence of concern regarding the environmental effects of greenhouse gas emissions on our coast. The bulk of both letters focus on the perceived impact on the oil and gas industries, as well as the added work imposed on the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). In fact, LDEQ goes as far as to use the impacts of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav, and Ike as a reason to not regulate greenhouse gases, despite the fact that if sea levels continue to rise, we will lose wetlands that protect communities from storms, as well as protect oil and gas infrastructure from the elements and boat strikes.Further, LDEQ contradicts itself in the December 15th letter. This letter states that regulation of greenhouse gasses should not occur “through unilateral agency policy under the auspices of EPA.” And yet in a brief that LDEQ submitted in a court case regarding the Big Cajun power plant, LDEQ states that it “is aware of the issues associated with climate change and greenhouse gases. Likewise, so is EPA.” LDEQ goes on to say that “given the regulation of greenhouse gasses is currently being addressed at the national level by the EPA, [LDEQ] made the decision that it will follow EPA’s lead.” LDEQ stresses that EPA’s regulation of greenhouse gases “is the only workable approach to an issue with nationwide implication….If the EPA ultimately determines that greenhouse gas emissions must be limited, [LDEQ] will follow suit.” (emphasis added) To put it simply, the letter from LDEQ Secretary Harold Leggett* is decidedly not following EPA’s lead, it is actively challenging it.Given the upcoming holidays, I do not have the time, or desire, to dispute the letters from Louisiana and Texas line by line, but I must say again that I am disappointed by these letters. Given the fact that we are at ground zero when it comes to sea level rise and climate change, and our experience with the energy sector, the Gulf States should be leaders in promoting a clean economy, and not obstructing progress towards cleaner air and healthy, sustainable communities. I am glad that, regarding the regulation of greenhouse gases, the EPA is living up to the “E” in its name. I wish I could say the same for LDEQ and TCEQ.You can see the letters from Louisiana and Texas (and South Carolina) prominently displayed on LDEQ’s website at http://www.deq.state.la.us/portal/*At the time of posting this blog, it was brought to my attention that Harold Leggett officially resigned as Secretary of LDEQ. He will be replaced by the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Environmental Compliance, Peggy Hatch.Matt is Water Resources Program Director for the GRN

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