EPA Can Take the Reins in Texas Over Gas Permits

     (CN) - The D.C. Circuit lifted a temporary stay preventing the Environmental Protection Agency from taking over permitting for greenhouse gas regulation in Texas. Texas has locked horns with the agency by refusing to comply with federal greenhouse gas regulations and filing legal challenges against the EPA's regulatory authority.
     A temporary stay issued last week prevented the EPA from taking over permitting power in Texas on Jan. 2. The stay was granted to allow time for both sides to file briefs, and the three-judge panel of the Washington-based appellate lifted the block Wednesday.
     Texas had also filed a petition with the 5th Circuit, challenging the agency's greenhouse gas regulations, many of which took effect this month.
     A number of state governments, joined by business associations and energy companies, have challenged the new regulations, although Texas is the only state to have not included greenhouse gases in its most recent round of permitting.
     The greenhouse gas regulations follow a 2007 court ruling and 2009 endangerment decision opening the way for greenhouse gases to be regulated as pollutants under the Clean Air Act.
     Although the EPA under President George W. Bush had stonewalled such regulation, the agency under President Barack Obama has aggressively pursued it. Some accuse Obama of overstepping regulatory authority in issuing the rules, especially since national cap-and-trade legislation, passed by the House last year, appeared to die in Senate this past fall.
     Legal analysts believe that the EPA has the stronger legal position over Texas, and that the federal agency will prevail in court.