by Brian Roberts
Last week, the feds sent the Environmental Protection Agency out to harass the sovereign state of Texas. Texas needs to reclaim the spirit of Davy Crockett, when he famously proclaimed “you may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas”; and send the federal agency packing. Here’s why and how.
EPA’s Goal is Centralization of Power
By sending the EPA to Texas, the federal government’s goal is not environmental improvements. The goal is centralization of power. The tactic is to use the unelected bureaucrats of the EPA to increase Texas dependence on the federal government through arbitrary and economically crippling regulation.
Refinery permits are just tools that the EPA intends to use to control the Texas oil and gas industry. EPA control can force Texas into dependence in at least two ways. First, though excessive regulation of a major industry, economic growth will be stifled. This will create more state dependence on federal funds. Second, unnecessary EPA regulations will cost Texans jobs. This is will create individual dependence on welfare programs and since these programs include state-mandated funding, Texas will be hit with additional liabilities.
The political problem for the EPA is that Texas’ commonsense policies have resulted in cleaner air while maintaining one of the healthiest economies in our nation during the current recession. This Texas independence and success is why the feds will continue to financially attack Texas. A self-sustaining state is very problematic for a federal government that is trying to centralize all the power in Washington. So expect the relationship between the Texas state government and the U.S. government to increasingly deteriorate. Bill Hammond, president of the Texas Association of Business, had this to say about the political dilemma facing the EPA:
“Evidently, Texas’ success in improving both our environment and our economy, while Washington still argues about how to accomplish either, is something that EPA and the administration finds troubling.”
Proponents of centralized government will attempt to argue that Texas’ policies are causing the streets of New Orleans to smell like the morning after a frat party, or that pollution from Texas is causing smog in LA and NYC, or that the earth will be destroyed by the Texas carbon footprint. All of these arguments are ridiculous excuses designed to provide cover for a federal power grab. These straw man arguments do not in any way reflect reality.
Proponents of centralized government will argue that Texas should just roll over and take it because, they falsely proclaim: Texas needs federal subsidies. When in fact, Texas has been a donor state for decades and currently only gets back 94 cents for every dollar that is sent to Washington. Historical data shows that every year since 1981, Texas citizens have donated more to the federal government than what was received. The truth is that if Texas continues to roll over and take it, then at some point in the near future Texas will become dependent on federal money and require more back than what was put in, and that is certainly one of the goals of centralization.
The real battle, often hidden behind the propaganda, is between sovereign states seeking a level of independence guaranteed by the Constitution and a federal government that seeks to undermine the American system of federalism itself. Texas success is a powerful example that local, more decentralized government works best and for centralizers, that kind of example must be destroyed.
Texas’ Duty is Decentralization of Power
Texas should invoke the 10th and legally send the EPA back Washington D.C. where they can look for a lesser target to plunder. The tenth amendment guarantees a limited federal government and grants governing authority to states and to the people. Leaders in the Texas legislature and Governor Perry have responded with strong words against the EPA’s intrusion.
Governor Perry said this about the EPA’s actions:
“The Obama administration has taken yet another step in its campaign to harm our economy and impose federal control over Texas. On behalf of those Texans whose jobs are threatened by this latest overreach, and in defense of, not only our clean air program, but also our rights under the 10th Amendment, I am calling upon President Obama to rein in the EPA and instruct them to study our successful approach for recommended use elsewhere.”
Texas State Representative Wayne Christian had this to say:
“The EPA’s unilateral and unwarranted takeover of air quality permits in Texas further proves that the federal government has a clear disregard for the authority of the Texas Legislature and for the principle of federalism. Washington is seeking to command and control all sectors of economic activity. This action must not stand.”
It is apparent that Texas politicians and leaders understand that this is a federal power grab that should not be allowed to proceed. However, in recent times, leadership in Texas has been more about talking the talk and less about walking the walk. A recent example, still fresh on the minds of many Texans, is the hesitancy of the Governor to call a special session so that Texas might pass nullification legislation to protect its citizens from the unconstitutional mandates of Obamacare.
While this delay in legislation concerning health care may prove to be the proper course strategically, this may not be the case in the battle against the EPA’s permit consolidation. EPA’s regional administrator has indicated that Texas has “weeks, not years” before the EPA begins taking over the entire air-pollution permitting program. The time to act has arrived.
Texas leadership would do well to find inspiration in another Davy Crockett quote:
“I would rather be beaten and be a man than to be elected and be a little puppy dog. I have always supported measures and principles and not men. I have acted fearlessly and independent and I never will regret my course. I would rather be politically buried than to be hypocritically immortalized.”
The solution is straightforward: the state government of Texas should tell the EPA to go to hell. In practical terms this means that nullification legislation should be passed by the Texas legislature and signed by the Governor. This legislation, based on the tenth amendment, should declare federal mandates with regards to the Clean Air Act null and void in the state of Texas and should include penalties for federal agents or local law enforcement agents that attempt to enforce this federal law in the state of Texas.
In an age of rapid centralization of power in Washington DC, nullification legislation denying federal authority is becoming common. Various states have defied federal laws by passing legislation designed to nullify: federal healthcare laws, federal firearm laws, federal marijuana laws, federal identification laws, among others.
Reprinted from the Tenth Amendment Center.
June 22, 2010
Brian Roberts is the State Chapter Coordinator for the Texas Tenth Amendment Center.
Copyright 2010 Tenth Amendment Center.