LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — A federal mandate to slash carbon emissions nationwide could result in another lengthy legal battle in Texas after the front-runner to become the state's next governor said Monday he will fight the effort.
Greg Abbott, the Texas attorney general and Republican nominee for governor, said requirements to cut emissions by 39 percent in Texas would further a federal agenda that has threatened to cut jobs in a booming state energy industry.
The comments put into question how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would force Texas to comply with its new standards if Abbott wins the gubernatorial election in November. The EPA is relying heavily on governors to help develop an emission-cutting strategy within three years but can create its own plan for states that refuse.
Abbott, who has repeatedly sued the EPA as Texas' longtime top prosecutor, appears ready to follow that route if necessary.
"Previous EPA regulations have threatened to eliminate Texas jobs and stifle energy production, an industry at the very core of our state's economy," Abbott said. "Yet the Obama administration is doubling down on their job-killing agenda with this latest proposal."
Under the federal plan unveiled Monday, Texas must meet the carbon emissions goal by 2030 in a move that could further reduce the state's reliance on coal power plants and force the state to develop more alternative energy sources. The EPA's broader plan calls for a 30 percent nationwide reduction.
State officials say they will need to evaluate the effects on consumers and the state's ability to meet demand. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the Public Utility Commission and the Railroad Commission of Texas are reviewing the proposal and will provide comments to the EPA.
Texas environmental officials say they are concerned the EPA is using the Clean Air Act and not congressional action to regulate carbon emissions. The TCEQ said in a statement it wanted to balance environmental protection "with a regulatory environment that is fair and predictable."
The EPA outlined several options for states to comply with its Monday announcement, including making power plants more efficient, reducing reliance on coal and investing in more renewable, low-carbon energy sources.
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