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In Letter, Perry Faults Obama's Energy Policies

In a letter to President Obama, Gov. Rick Perry accuses the president of waging a war on coal and kicking the can down the road on the Keystone XL pipeline. Perry suggests that Washington should follow Texas’ lead in spurring energy production.

Gov. Rick Perry has reminded President Obama – again – that he is no fan of his energy policies.

In a letter sent to the president Friday, Perry accused Obama of “waging a war on coal; kicking the can down the road on the Keystone XL pipeline and creating obstacles to onshore and offshore oil and gas production,” and suggested that Washington should follow Texas’ lead in spurring energy production.

“The success we've seen in Texas shows that energy production and environmental protection are not mutually exclusive,” Perry wrote. “If adopted, the Texas approach could create jobs, contribute billions of dollars to the economy, strengthen our energy security and make the United States a global energy powerhouse today and for future generations.”

Texas is pumping more than twice the oil it did three years ago, accounting for more than a third of all domestic production, even as production surges elsewhere in the country. The growth, which has pumped billions of extra dollars into the state’s treasury, has also stirred concerns about air and water quality and strained infrastructure in some regions, including roads and emergency response capabilities

In his letter, Perry took aim at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s mercury and air toxics standards and cross-state air pollution rule for their collective role in the retirement of coal plants, which he says threatens U.S. energy reliability and jobs. 

The mercury rule, set to take effect in 2015, requires plants to upgrade technology to limit mercury and other types of toxins — such as arsenic, acid gas, nickel, selenium and cyanide — that power plants belch into the air. The cross-state air pollution rule, reinstated by the U.S. Supreme Court last month, requires Texas and 26 other "upwind" states in the South, Midwest and Appalachia to reduce some of their emissions that contribute to air pollution in East Coast states like New York.

The EPA says those rules will protect public health and slash long-run health care costs.

The standards appear to be speeding up the retirement of aging coal units, which were already under threat by changing economics — mainly the infusion into the market of cheap, abundant natural gas. Perry, whose administration has long fought the rules, wrote that the retirements are bad for the economy and for the reliability of the nation’s energy grid.

Perry’s letter also criticized the president for being slow to approve the northern segment of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which would send oil to Oklahoma from the tar sands in Alberta, Canada. The pipeline has drawn protests from environmentalists and property owners along the route who fear spills. (The pipeline's southern leg, which connects Oklahoma to Texas refineries is already in use.)

“Your continued inaction on this critical project is delaying opportunity for thousands of American families, and that is simply unacceptable,” Perry wrote. 

In recent weeks, Congress has debated legislation that would force Obama to make a decision but has struggled to reach a compromise.

Perry also called on Obama to take steps to open up liquefied natural gas exports and bolster oil and gas production on federal lands.

Perry cited Texas’ recent reductions in nitrogen oxide and ozone as evidence that the state’s energy economy can prosper with its environment. Independent fact-checkers in recent years have noted that federal regulations and court actions have played major roles in such improvements. 

Meanwhile, a recent state-sponsored report found that airborne releases of volatile organic compounds in South Texas’ Eagle Ford Shale could increase 281 percent during the peak ozone season compared with 2012 emissions. 

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2014/05/19/perry-takes-aim-again-obamas-energy-policies/.

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