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Texas Press Association State Capital Highlights
Governor calls EPA rule 'federal overreach'
Thursday, July 14, 2011 • Posted July 14, 2011

AUSTIN — A new rule announced July 6 by the U.S. Environmental Protection puts new controls on energy-related industries in Texas.

The EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule requires 27 states including Texas to improve air quality by reducing power plant emissions that contribute to ozone and/or fine-particle pollution in other states, the agency stated.

Gov. Rick Perry, whose name is being circulated as a possible GOP candidate in the 2012 presidential race, reacted on July 7, calling the EPA’s action “another example of heavy-handed and misguided action from Washington, D.C., that threatens Texas jobs and families and puts at risk the reliable and affordable electricity our state needs to succeed.

“From the attack on Texas’ successful clean air program, to threatening endangered species listings in West Texas oil fields, to banning offshore energy exploration, the Obama Administration seems intent on increasing energy costs for American consumers and making us even more dependent on foreign energy.

“Texas will keep standing up to this destructive federal overreach and working to enhance environmental protection and domestic energy exploration and production,” Perry said.

The EPA reported that the Cross-State Pollution Rule is intended to reduce the following: Premature mortality; non-fatal heart attacks; hospital and emergency department visits; acute bronchitis; upper and lower respiratory symptoms; aggravated asthma; and days when people miss work or school.

Trucking agreement is reached

Remember the North American Free Trade Agreement, an effort launched in 1994 to smooth commerce among the nations of our continent?

Well, the giant sucking sound of NAFTA may get a couple of notches quieter. On July 6 the United States and Mexico signed an agreement to resolve an old trucking dispute. (H. Ross Perot, Dallas businessman and 1992 presidential candidate, warned that NAFTA, if passed, would be a drain on the U.S economy and Americans would recognize it as a “giant sucking sound.”)

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples said the Lone Star State will benefit from the agreement.

According to his office, “Mexico’s punitive customs duties on 99 U.S. products will be cut in half within the next 10 days. The remaining tariffs will be removed later this summer within five days after the first carrier is inspected and certified by the Department of Transportation to participate in the trucking program.”

“For too long,” Staples said, “Texas farmers, ranchers and consumers have paid the price for longstanding trade disputes between our two countries. In these tough economic times, it is imperative that the voice of reason speaks on behalf of our hardworking U.S. farmers and ranchers as well as consumers. As neighbors, Texas and Mexico have worked hard for decades to create harmonious trade protocols and this agreement is another step forward in a mutually beneficial partnership.”

A USDA report released earlier this year indicated tariffs alone reduced the total value of targeted U.S. agricultural exports by $240 million from March 2010 to February 2011. Mexico’s list of retaliatory tariffs has a direct affect on $190 million in Texas agriculture products, including pork, wine, peanuts, onions and dozens of other commodities, Staples’ office reported.

Combs hires security chiefs

Texas Comptroller Susan Combs, who has been under fire this year for not preventing the exposure of current and former state employees’ personal data, last week announced the hiring of Elizabeth Rogers to be the agency’s first chief privacy officer.

Combs said Rogers will be in charge of:

• Designing and updating privacy standards;

• Performing risk reviews to identify exchanges of personally identifiable information between the agency and other entities or individuals;

• Identifying new privacy risks and developing mitigation strategies; and Collaborating with chief privacy officers at the state and federal level on privacy related initiatives.

Rogers is a former general counsel of the State Bar of Texas.

Combs also announced the hiring of Jesse Rivera as the agency’s chief information security officer to oversee information technology security and risk assessment; direct cyber security audits and ensure technologies are in place to reduce risks of attacks; and work on network security architecture based on the agency’s business needs and security regulations.

Rivera is a former employee of the Central Intelligence Agency.

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