Ken Paxton

Attorney General Ken Paxton Delivers Remarks at TPPF Luncheon

Monday, June 22, 2015 – Austin, Texas

*Note: The general often deviates from prepared remarks.

I’m honored to be here today at such a great event about such an important topic. It wasn’t that long ago that we could easily say that the President’s use of the EPA to further his agenda was easily his most blatant example of overreach. That may still be the case, but over the last couple years, he’s done everything he can to make that a much tougher call.

In fact, since he gave up on the democratic process and started sidestepping Congress on everything from forcing through his appointments, to granting amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants. That doesn’t even include his use of the IRS to target and suppress the free speech of TEA Party groups. Considering all this, his overreaches through the EPA seem almost, in a word, “quaint.” Like a musician playing his not-so-greatest hits.

But just because they’re a more familiar form of his executive activism doesn’t make his actions through the EPA any less dangerous. In fact, the EPA, by taking its cues from the fringiest edges of the president’s activist base … can do immense amounts of damage to the state and national economies.   And just as dangerous, it can undermine the balance in our federal system, which protects the sovereignty of the state as a bulwark of freedom for the people, against an oppressive, centralized government in Washington.

Today, through this poll data, you’re confirming on paper something we’ve suspected all along: people simply don’t trust the EPA. And why should they?

The EPA is not in the business of building public trust; it’s in the business of appeasement. The appeasement of a small segment of Americans who believe any sort of industrial development is, automatically, a bad thing, and must be aggressively targeted by Washington. That’s certainly the way it looks when you look at the President’s Clean Power Plan.

Again, this is an example of the president forcing through what he couldn’t accomplish legislatively, in this case, enacting programs like “cap and trade”.

Instead, he’s effectively put them into place by massively expanding his personal power, by expanding the power of the EPA. This program will result in the premature retirement of existing power plant, damaging the reliability of our electric grid, and resulting in significantly higher energy costs for businesses and consumers alike.

Moreover, his plan violates the very Clean Air Act he relies upon by treating the entire state as a source of pollution. If his plan goes into effect, expect energy costs to spike 20 percent by 2020.

So, make no mistake, Texas will be challenging this plan in court.

Partly because compliance costs on the President’s plan will be massive, more than $28 billion annually through 2030, according to a recent study commissioned by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Partly because Texas is a rapidly-growing state … and we need more reliable energy, not less. And partly because Texas’ required reductions would also be vastly out of proportion to other states.

While Texas produces 11 percent of the electricity in the United States, under the proposed rules, Texas would be required to contribute 18 percent of the overall national reduction. In order to meet that mandate, Texas would have to slash carbon emissions by 38 percent.

13 states have final emission goals that are higher than Texas’ current emission levels -- even though from 2000-2010, Texas reduced its emissions by almost twice as much as states such as California.

Remember, Texans already breathe much cleaner air than they did in 2000, with NOx emissions and ozone levels down over the past 15 years of rapid population and economic growth. Texas has demonstrated clearly that you can have cleaner air without destroying the energy sector. That’s the part that drives the activists nuts… and I’m okay with that.

Rather than see what we’ve done, and why it’s working, the EPA instead wants to bring the hammer down on us. If that isn’t enough evidence to prove that this is more about ideology, and the President’s war on coal, I can’t imagine what would convince you.

But what does all this really mean? Why is it so important to the people of Texas? Why is it so imperative that we fight back against this aggressive overreach, wherever it presents itself? Because, if you sum up in one word what people really need to successfully launch a new business, or expand one that’s already thriving, it’s “predictability.”

They need to know how much it’s going to cost to comply with regulations. They need to know they have a reliable source of energy in the area. They need to know that going forward, they’re going to have a fair chance to expand again, and that they won’t get strangled in red tape.

That’s troubling, because the only thing certain about the EPA is that they’re going to continue expanding their reach, and adding to that already-daunting mountain of regulation.

You can’t spell “unpredictability” without “EPA.”

The more the EPA takes control of -- and we’re already awaiting new rules regarding the “Waters of the United States,” or WOTUS -- the more it makes people who want to create jobs less confident about whether they’ll be able to do so. Overregulation stifles growth, kills existing jobs, and hinders the creation of new ones.

That’s why we fight. That’s why we’ll continue to fight back against the Clean Power Plan. That’s why we’ll fight back against WOTUS, which seeks to vastly expand the definition of waters under federal control from the original “navigable waters” to include almost any piece of land that gets wet and puddles.

The good news is, Texas has already had success in court against these sorts of issues. We challenged the Green House Gas Rules, including the Tailoring Provision. We forced the EPA to follow the law as written, not in a politically expedient manner. That exposed the absurdity of trying to regulate greenhouse gases without authority from Congress. But, then again, where the EPA goes, absurdity often follows.

In a separate case, the Supreme Court determined that the EPA may have unlawfully applied its Transport Rule—also known as the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule or “Casper”, which limits air pollution crossing state lines. That’s now up to the D.C. Circuit Court to decide. We’re confident in our case, but at a minimum, we’ve bought some time for business owners to create contingency plans.

But the fight against EPA is not just about protecting private property, saving jobs, growing the economy, and letting states make decisions about how best to protect the environment. The fight is about the erosion of self-government under our Constitution, it is about the abuse of power by unelected bureaucrats and the rise of the Administrative State. It’s the Progressive dream of rule by the so-called experts, because in their eyes, the people of America and Texas cannot be trusted to govern themselves or understand their self-interests.

We’ll continue fighting back the EPA, slowing or hopefully stopping the threat to the liberty of Texans and erosion of our Constitutional values.  

I’d like to thank TPPF for all their hard work in helping give us an edge in that fight, and for having me here today. Thank you, and may God continue to bless the Great State of Texas.