Newly proposed Environmental Protection Agency rules for existing coal-fired power plants have several state and federal officials up in arms over the possible economic impact for Texas businesses.
This year the EPA plans to implement rules on existing coal-fired power plants, which will have three years to fix and update their facilities or face hefty fines.
Editor's Note: The prior sentence is incorrect about the rule implementation and timeline. The new carbon emission rules are only a proposal at this point, and the timeline to reach the emission goals are outlined in the proposal document (pg. 115): "For each state, the EPA is proposing an interim goal for the phase-in period from 2020 to 2029 and the final goal that applies beginning in 2030."
Nationwide the goal is to cut carbon emissions by 30 percent, but in Texas it is nearly 40 percent.
U.S. Congressman Henry Cuellar, D-San Antonio, is one of a handful of Texas Democrats who have signed on with Texas Republicans to delay the rules from taking effect. Cuellar said the responsibility for rule making should be handled by Congress.
"I think it’s up to Congress to determine whether, when and how to set greenhouse gas emissions for the industry," Cuellar said.
Environmental groups say in the recent past Congress hasn’t taken action. State officials and business leaders claim the new rules will negatively impact the economy and cause electricity rates to skyrocket, but that’s not how Luke Metzger with Environment Texas sees the change.
"For example in San Antonio, CPS Energy: How investing in clean energy can both cut carbon pollution but in a way that helps the economy by creating new businesses and jobs for the community," Metzger said.
As far as whether there is enough support, Metzger points to another letter from another Texas congressional delegation supporting President Obama’s initiative.
In 2013 the EPA set rules that govern the standards for all new power plants and set rules on cross-border pollution for state's whose emissions cross state lines. The cross-border pollution case was taken to the U.S. Supreme Court by a group of states that included Texas; the court ruled in favor of the EPA.
This new set of rules governing older power plants has many predicting a similar court challenge.