Railroad Commission Chairman Smitherman Comments on Cross-State Air Pollution Oral Arguments Today before the U.S. Supreme Court


AUSTIN — The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments today in EPA v. EME Homer City Generation, and Railroad Commission Chairman Barry Smitherman said he is hopeful the final decision will affirm a lower federal court decision that struck down a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) rule that seeks to grossly overreach federal authority and create substantial fiscal harm to Texas.

“We look forward to the highest court of our land affirming the holding of the lower court in this case, reinforcing our state’s sovereign authority to create and enforce laws that maintain the interests and rights of Texas and that limit federal rulemaking damaging to our great state,” Smitherman said.

Texas argues that EPA exceeded its authority under the federal Clean Air Act when it promulgated the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (“CSAPR”).  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the D.C. Circuit, agreed with the State of Texas and vacated the EPA-created CSAPR in 2012.

The rule forces 28 states, including Texas, to significantly reduce power plant emissions that cross state lines.  Texas relies on electricity generated by the surfacing mining of lignite mines, which is regulated by the Railroad Commission.

Chairman Smitherman said, “The expansively written CSAPR threatens the viability of the Texas lignite mining industry, jobs and severely hampers economic growth.  If the rule is implemented, many Texas coal-fired power plants may be forced to limit or shut down operations.”

Below is a Railroad Commission letter that initiated the legal action to seek a stay of CSAPR:


A U.S. Supreme Court decision is expected by June 2014.


Chairman Barry Smitherman was appointed to the Railroad Commission of Texas in July 2011, and was elected Chairman in February 2012. In November 2012, Chairman Smitherman won a statewide election to the Commission with 74 percent of the vote, receiving more than 4.5 million votes. Chairman Smitherman currently serves as Texas’ representative on both the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission and the Southern States Energy Board, and as Chair of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners’ Gas Committee. He is on the Visiting Committee of the Bureau of Economic Geology with the Jackson School of Geosciences at The University of Texas at Austin, The University of Texas School of Law Center for Global Energy,