AUSTIN — Top state officials reacted negatively to a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rule finalized July 6.
The “Cross State Pollution Rule” requires 27 states including Texas to improve air quality, beginning Jan. 1, by reducing power plant emissions that contribute to ozone and/or fine particle pollution in downwind states.
On Sept. 12, Dallas-based Luminant Energy announced the need to close facilities to comply with “CSAPR” would cause the loss of some 500 jobs. The same day, Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus posted press statements.
Perry: “As expected, the only results of this rule will be putting Texans out of work and creating hardships for them and their families, while putting the reliability of Texas’ grid in jeopardy. In the decade of the 2000’s Texas reduced ozone emissions by 27 percent — more than any other state — and reduced (sulfur dioxide) emissions by 32 percent and (nitrogen oxide) emissions by 58 percent, all while remaining the nation’s leading energy producer and protecting jobs.”
Dewhurst: “The EPA has put a target on our back — hastily imposing punitive new regulations on an unreasonable timeline — despite the fact that Texas has improved air quality and reduced emissions substantially more than the national average.”
Straus: “This is the wrong policy at the worst possible time, and I fully support the State’s petition requesting the EPA to reconsider its adoption of the CSAPR.”
Texas has filed legal papers petitioning for reconsideration and a stay of CSAPR and Luminant Energy has filed a legal challenge to the rule.
Meanwhile, on Sept. 15, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Chairman Bryan Shaw, in a congressional hearing on CSAPR, said, “Under average conditions, the potential generation loss in Texas caused by this rule will have real impacts to real people. Should Texas face another sweltering summer like this past one, there is every reason to worry about loss of life.”
Jobless rate rises to 8.5 percent
The Lone Star State’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 8.5 percent in August.
According to U.S. Department of Labor figures released by the Texas Workforce Commission on Sept. 16, the unemployment rate for August climbed 0.1 percent from the 8.4 percent rate posted for the month of July. The percentage change reflects the loss of 1,300 nonfarm jobs.
The national unemployment rate was 9.1 percent for August.
More take college entrance exam
The number of college-bound minority students who take the SAT college admissions test is on the increase.
College Board, the testing entity, on Sept. 14 released data that show the number of Hispanic students in Texas public schools who took the SAT between the 2006-2007 school year and the 2010-2011 school year increased by 57.7 percent.
Over the same five-year period, the number of African-American SAT examinees in the public schools increased 43.4 percent, while the number of Asian examinees in Texas increased 23.4 percent.
The number of all Texas public school students taking the test increased by 21.6 percent during this period.
Burn bans in nearly all counties
Texas Forest Service keeps track on burn bans in effect across Texas and only a few counties did not have established burn bans in effect.
As of Sept. 18 those counties included: Hidalgo, Willacy, Jefferson and Orange. In addition, the northeast quadrant of Jack County was marked as not having a burn ban in effect.
Of seven uncontained fires in Texas on Sept. 17, the Bastrop County Complex, at 34,068 acres, was 90 percent contained. The forest service reported 1,554 homes have been destroyed in the Bastrop fire and the related Union Chapel Fire and two civilians were found dead as search crews went through the charred subdivisions.
Federal meal programs available
Times are hard for many Texans but being in a tough spot does not mean having to go hungry. The Texas Department of Agriculture on Sept. 17 encouraged those in need of assistance to take advantage of programs that offer nutritious meals to children and adults.
About 14,000 adult and child care centers and home-based day cares in Texas are serving free or reduced-priced meals through the federally funded Child and Adult Care Food Program, CACFP.
To get information on CACFP and a wide range of other feeding programs, call (877) TEX-MEAL.