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President Barack Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has moved aggressively to usurp policy making authority from the states. In West Virginia and Kentucky, for example, the EPA has effectively overhauled Clean Water Act (CAA) permitting regimes, in disregard of administrative procedure rules. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has sued the EPA six times over its decision to reject state’s 17-year old “Flexible Permit” air quality permitting program for refineries. Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt is suing the EPA over its proposal to impose Clean Air Act controls at six coal fired power plants that cost almost $1 billion more than what the Sooner State had proposed. And that is just the beginning.
On August 22, 2011, the EPA committed its most outrageous affront to environmental federalism, with New Mexico as the victim. Specifically, the EPA refused to consider New Mexico’s visibility improvement plan, required under the Clean Air Act (CAA), and imposed a federal plan in its stead. This paper demonstrates how the EPA ran roughshod over New Mexico’s rightful authority, at a cost of almost $340 million to New Mexico ratepayers. Thanks to the EPA’s power grab, 500,000 PNM ratepayers in New Mexico are facing a $120 per year electricity tax (PNM is the state’s largest utility). The “benefit” of this tax, according to peerreviewed research, is a visibility “improvement” that is imperceptible to most people.
photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/vanstewart/3702449218/