Texas sues EPA over new ozone standards

The State of Texas and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality on Dec. 23 filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over its new ozone standards rule.

Eight other states have filed separate lawsuits against the new rule: Arizona, Arkansas, Kentucky, New Mexico, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Utah and Wisconsin.

On Dec. 28, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton explained his reasoning for state’s taking legal action, saying the EPA “has lowered the ozone standard placed on states to a level that is inappropriate and unrealistic and is based on flawed science” and the changes to the National Ambient Air Quality Standard would impose a serious financial burden on the Texas economy for dubious public health benefit.

Areas of the country that fail to comply with these impossible standards will be subject to costly new regulations that will harm our economy and kill jobs,” Paxton said, adding: “Texas has proven that we can reduce ambient ozone concentrations without stifling growth, and my office will continue to defend our state from the EPA’s harmful and overreaching regulations.”

Governor proclaims

disaster in December

Gov. Greg Abbott on Dec. 27 certified that the severe winter weather and tornadoes that began on Dec. 26 caused a disaster in Collin, Dallas, Ellis and Rockwall counties. On Dec. 31, Abbott added Wichita County to the list.

Abbott declared a disaster in those counties, and in doing so, authorized the use of “all available resources of state government and of political subdivisions that are reasonably necessary to cope with this disaster.”

The National Weather Service reported 12 tornadoes were confirmed within a matter of hours in the North Texas region in the afternoon and evening of Dec. 26, and 11 deaths were attributed to those tornadoes. In calendar year 2015, the NWS reported 76 tornadoes in North and Central Texas, the most on record since the agency began keeping detailed records of tornadoes in 1950.

In other disaster-related news, on Dec. 24, Abbott announced the Federal Emergency Management Agency had granted his request for 16 counties affected by severe weather in October.

Those counties include: Bastrop, Bosque, Caldwell, Comal, Guadalupe, Hays, Hidalgo, Hill, Jasper, Liberty, Navarro, Newton, Travis, Walker, Willacy and Wilson. 

AG issues

scam warning

Attorney General Paxton on Dec. 28 cautioned Texans “to be aware of disaster scams in the wake of a disaster declaration in four North Texas counties.”

As our communities work to rebuild and recover from the storms, my office will work diligently to protect Texans from scams perpetrated by those who look to take advantage of our citizens in these unfortunate circumstances. The loss of lives as a result of these deadly storms is a tragedy for our state, and our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families,” Paxton said.

Under state law, once the governor issues a declaration, vendors are prohibited from charging exorbitant prices for necessities such as drinking water, food, batteries, generators, towing, clothing, medicine, lodging, repair work and fuel during and after the crisis, Paxton added.


chief named

The Texas Transportation Commission on Dec. 17 announced its selection of James Bass as the Texas Department of Transportation’s new executive director, effective Jan. 1.

Bass has been serving as the agency’s chief financial officer since 2005. He began his TxDOT career in 1985, working summers in the Fort Worth District and as an engineer aide in the Austin District while earning his bachelor's degree in accounting at the University of Texas at Austin. In November 1999, Bass was selected as finance division director of TxDOT before becoming chief financial officer. 

State agency

approves projects

The Texas Transportation Commission, at its December meeting, approved 34 roadway improvement projects using Proposition 1 funding.

Proposition 1, approved last November by Texas voters, dedicates a portion of oil and gas tax revenue to the state highway fund.

Commissioners so far have approved final contract awards on 165 of more than 200 planned Proposition 1 projects across the state. The projects, totaling more than $520 million worth of roadway construction, rehabilitation and restoration, will enhance the safety, mobility and connectivity in our state, the agency stated in a Dec. 23 news release.

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