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Texas Press Association State Capital Highlights
Officials unite in resistance to greenhouse gas finding
Wednesday, February 24, 2010 • Posted February 23, 2010

AUSTIN — Gov. Rick Perry, Attorney General Greg Abbott and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples on Feb. 16 announced the state had filed legal papers to challenge the EPA’s endangerment finding.

The issue for Texas, the three officials said, is that tighter regulations would be damaging to energy-sector industries, farmers, ranchers, small businesses, and to the economy at large.

In December, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published the endangerment finding showing evidence that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases have negative effects on human health. The finding opened the door to tighter regulations on the release of greenhouse gases under the federal Clean Air Act.

The Texas officials’ challenge also suggests the endangerment finding is not to be trusted because the EPA outsourced its scientific assessment to the International Panel on Climate Change, a research organization that has been accused of using phony data overstating the effects of human activity on the world climate.

“With billions of dollars at stake, EPA outsourced the scientific basis for its greenhouse gas regulation to a scandal-plagued international organization that cannot be considered objective or trustworthy,” Abbott said.

“Prominent climate scientists associated with the IPCC were engaged in an ongoing, orchestrated effort to violate freedom of information laws, exclude scientific research, and manipulate temperature data. In light of the parade of controversies and improper conduct that has been uncovered, we know that the IPCC cannot be relied upon for objective, unbiased science – so EPA should not rely upon it to reach a decision that will hurt small businesses, farmers, ranchers, and the larger Texas economy.”

Plane hits office building, 2 dead

About 10:30 a.m. on Feb. 18, a solo pilot identified as Austin resident Joseph Stack, 53, steered his single engine Piper Cherokee into the seven-story Echelon I office building in the northwestern part of the city.

The plane exploded on impact and ignited a fire that endangered the lives of dozens of office workers and resulted in the deaths of Internal Revenue Service employee Vernon Hunter, 67, and Stack. Thirteen others reportedly were injured.

Stack, a computer engineer, operated a personal Web site where writings that likely were his own railed against the IRS, the Catholic Church and other entities.

The matter is under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Lawmaker: Inaction unacceptable

State Rep. Patrick Rose, chairman of the House Human Services Committee, on Feb. 12 called a state agency’s record in taking action to nursing home complaints unacceptable.

Rose, D-Dripping Springs, said the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services’ backlog in response to complaints and incidents at nursing homes “must be cleared swiftly and the state must also ensure, moving forward, that deficiencies found in nursing homes are addressed.”

Rose said he expects to hear a progress report from the agency’s new chief executive Chris Traylor when the committee meets in March. Traylor was named commissioner of the agency effective Jan. 1.

Decennial redistricting lies ahead

The House Redistricting Committee met Feb. 10 to consider matters relating to the upcoming 2010 Census and population estimates used to forecast Congressional apportionment and redistricting.

Based on the recent population surge putting the state population near 25 million, the Texas delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives could grow to 36 members from 32.

A four-seat gain would be the biggest between-decades gain for Texas since at least 1900. The state gained three seats after the 1930, 1980 and 1990 censuses. Texas gained two seats after the 2000 census.

A total of 38 Local Census Offices are operating across Texas.

Road safety campaign begins

The Texas Department of Transportation in mid-February launched a campaign with advice for toll road users, such as:

Slow down in toll plaza cash lanes and on exit ramps; never back up to change lanes on a toll road; avoid driver distractions, such as talking or texting on cell phones; and if you find yourself in the wrong lane, just keep driving through and you’ll get a bill in the mail for your tolls.

Also, watch for stopped vehicles in cash lanes and when driving through a cash plaza, only travel through lanes marked with a green arrow.

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