AUSTIN—Environment Texas and Public Citizen support Texas District Court Judge Gisela Triana’s ruling Monday that air is a public trust. This ruling comes amidst recent studies that global warming is the culprit behind the record heat and drought of 2011. In the face of these events, the environmental groups urge Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott to join the effort to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and keep global warming in check.
Researchers from Oregon and England have used computer simulations to estimate that global warming has caused Texas heat waves to become up to 20 times more likely now than 50 years ago in years with a La Nina. As we continue to increase emissions of greenhouse gases, which the EPA says rose in the US by 3.2% from 2009 to 2010, global warming will only accelerate. Fortunately, steps are being taken to protect the environment on a local and national level; last month, a federal court ruled in favor of the EPA’s rules to reduce emissions, and just this week, Texas District Court Judge Gisela Triana ruled that air will join water as a public trust.
“Humans have recognized since the time of the Roman Empire that water, a resource necessary for survival, should be protected by the government,” said Luke Metzger, Director of Environment Texas. “It is about time we give air, another necessity for life, the same protection. We applaud Judge Triana's ruling to protect the air we all share, and we urge Attorney General Abbott to safeguard the health of current and future Texans by focusing on maintaining the integrity of our state's land, water and air, rather than on political lawsuits against Washington and the EPA.”
In 2010, Attorney General Abbott filed a suit in a federal court against the EPA to prevent the agency from using recent findings to increase regulation of greenhouse gas emissions, in part by fixing Texas’ air-pollution permitting system, which the EPA said does not comply with the Clean Air Act. Abbott rejected the findings that greenhouse gases are a threat to public health and a cause of global warming; he claimed that the science behind the conclusions were based on “the suppression and destruction of scientific evidence.”
Abbott also fought increased greenhouse gas regulation because he believes it has the potential to cost businesses and homeowners by eliminating jobs and hurting the oil industry, according to an article in the Austin-American Statesman.
“The decision that air is a public trust means that Abbott’s approach to climate is wrong,” said Tom Smith, Texas Director of Public Citizen. “As Texas’ attorney, he is entrusted with protecting our common land, our water and now our climate. Abbott should quit wasting taxpayer’s money on political lawsuits and go after those who are causing droughts and searing heat waves.”
Environment Texas and Public Citizen urge Abbott to consider the certain harm that excessive emissions cause, both to our health and our economy. Protecting the atmosphere by regulating greenhouse gas emissions will abate the affects of global warming, such as intense droughts and severe weather events, and will encourage the development of the renewable energy economy.