Some Like It Hot


Eileen Smith

Texas lawmakers are skeptical of many things—evolution, health care, sex education, presidential citizenship, women—so it’s no surprise that they haven’t fully embraced the novel idea of climate change. If global warming truly exists, for example, then why haven’t we all burst into flames yet?

For some legislators, the “science” itself is questionable enough. There’s also that all-consuming threat of federal regulation and the very real possibility that jack-booted thugs led by Al Gore will force us into indentured green jobs servitude. Not if Governor Rick Perry and the Texas Legislature have anything to say about it. Last year, Attorney General Greg Abbott filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency in a bid to stop it from regulating greenhouse gases and, in Perry’s words, to “defend Texas’s environmental successes against federal overreach.” However the EPA moved forward with its hostile takeover of operating permits for power plants and oil refineries in Texas due to the state’s failure to comply with the Clean Air Act.

In mid-March in Washington, members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee gleefully approved legislation that would block the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions. Texas Congressman Joe Barton, R-Ennis, a longtime global warming skeptic, claimed that the agency never did a “real scientific analysis” of global warming. “We are opposed to pseudo-science,” he said. “We should not put the U.S. economy in a straitjacket because of a theory that hasn’t been proven.” He’s right. Straitjackets should be reserved for delusional people.

Emboldened by their fearless governor and like-minded Congressional brethren, Texas Republicans signed on to legislation that would send a strong message to the EPA and its overreaching—even downright molesting—ways. HCR 66, sponsored by Rep. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, would “urge the United States Congress to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases for stationary sources.” (Hancock sits on the House Committee on Environmental Regulation, which took up the bill earlier this month.)

The language in HCR 66 adheres to the Republican default argument of federal encroachment, portraying the EPA as a rogue agency taking advantage of junk science to impose draconian restrictions on states: “The EPA has acted on its own to institute a backdoor regulatory regime, an abuse of power with serious implications.” It’s no longer just an agency, you see, it’s a full-on regime. Even worse, a backdoor regime. The worst kind of regime.

Rep. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs, has filed a similar resolution, HCR 81, expressing opposition to federal regulation of hazardous waste, water, and clean air while focusing heavily on Tenth Amendment states’ rights (with a little Ninth Amendment thrown in, for good measure). The language reads: “Officials in Washington, D.C., have grown ever bolder in usurping powers rightly belonging to the states.” Think of HCR 81 as the poor man’s HCR 66—same idea, but a little too scrappy.

Meanwhile Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, filed a companion resolution to HCR 66—SCR 20—which has already been placed on the Senate calendar. It pays to be the chairman of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources.

Clearly with both the House and the Senate on board, the EPA will have no other choice but to back down. With Texas once again regulating its own greenhouse gas emissions, prosperous days are surely ahead. At least until the carbon dioxide catches up with us.