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The Battle Between Business and Air Quality

KUT News
"Emission rules in Flux for Texas Companies"
July 14, 2011

Do stricter air quality regulations in Texas have a negative effect on the economy and job creation? David Spence, associate professor in the Department of Business, Government and Society, spoke to KUT News about the big picture.

More than a hundred Texas refineries, chemical and utility plants have told the Environmental Protection Agency they plan to apply for federal air permits. Last year the federal government declared the state’s flexible air program violated the Clean Air Act. A lawsuit is pending against the EPA’s ruling, but companies are moving forward with getting permits through the federal government anyway.


David Spence, a professor for energy law at UT’s McCombs School of Business, says the companies’ willingness to apply for new permits could be an indicator that they can live with the costs of regulation. He points out that the current lack of regulation is also associated with economic costs.

 

“[Costs that] economists would call ‘externalities,’” Spence said. “You know, external costs that would get shifted to society: deaths from pollutions, asthma attacks, mining accidents. All those sorts of things.”

 

Spence says it has been an uncertain business climate for energy companies in the long history of the EPA versus air pollution regulations. But in the last ten years, the courts have sent messages that regulations are on the way.

Read the full article at KUT's website.

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