What happens in Texas doesn’t stay in Texas, especially when it comes to air quality issues.

That’s why officials from the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality are planning to participate in administrative hearings relating to 11 858-megawatt coal power plants that TXU plans to build in East and Central Texas.

Texas Governor Rick Perry, who has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in political contributions from coal power plant interests, fast-tracked the administrative permitting process for 16 TXU coal power plants in 2005. Though that action has now resulted in litigation challenging Perry’s authority to issue the fast-tracking order, the administrative hearings process continues.

For those wondering why folks in Oklahoma might be concerned about new coal power plants in Texas, it has to do with the same issues Texans are concerned with: air quality. To wit:

Oklahoma regulators are concerned that emissions from new coal plants in Texas could worsen air quality near Duncan, Oklahoma, about 160 miles north of Dallas, said Skylar McElhaney, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma environmental agency.

Worsening air quality in southern Oklahoma could jeopardize  the area’s status under the federal clear air laws, McElhaney said. “Our interest is for those areas to remain in attainment,” she said.

The Texas Department of Administrative Hearings will hold a hearing on the permits February 21; that is when Oklahoma officials are expected to participate.

The quote from the Reuters piece above is particularly important because it touches on the status of an Oklahoma area under federal clean air laws.

What this refers to, of course, are counties that are currently at “nonattainment” status or very near nonattainment status when it comes to the levels of certain pollutants in the air under the federal Clean Air Act.

Texas already has five areas presently at nonattainment for at least one pollutant. More areas in Texas than that have previous histories of having been named nonattainment areas and it is safe to say several areas are on the verge of being named nonattainment areas.

That officials in another state are concerned about the impact these power plants and the pollution they generate will have on the environment there, it should send a major signal to naysayers in Texas who seem to think the plants won’t make much of a difference.

(X-Possted From Capitol Annex).