Weatherford Democrat

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February 6, 2014

Dems, GOP spar over EPA’s role in Texas

Parker County’s Lipsky attends committee hearing in Washington

From Staff, Wire and Online Reports

WASHINGTON D.C. – The fight over environmental regulations in Texas rang out at a congressional hearing Wednesday, with Republicans and Democrats airing sharp disagreements over the proper federal role in controlling pollution.

“The devastating impact of EPA’s overreach can be felt from statehouses to farmhouses across the nation,” said Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. “EPA’s regulatory ambitions threaten states’ rights and intrude on the everyday lives of our citizens.”

The all-Texas panel of witnesses – most of them invited by Republicans who control the committee – largely favored an easing of federal regulations.

Texas Railroad Commissioner David Porter, Farm Bureau president Kenneth Dierschke and Commission on Environmental Quality Chairman Bryan Shaw lambasted the Environmental Protection Agency for meddling. The other two witnesses were a health scientist supporting the EPA and an economist from Southern Methodist University’s Maguire Energy Institute who echoed criticism of the agency.

Porter blasted the EPA for what terms the agency’s overreach in its handling of reported water contamination in a subdivision in south Parker County that began in 2010 with Steve Lipsky’s complaints and lawsuit against a Fort Worth-based well drilling company.

“Nothing exemplifies the severe incompetence and blatant disregard for sound science as well as EPA’s infamous mishandling of the Range Resources case in Parker County, Texas,” said Porter, as reported by Texas Tribune.

The EPA issued, then later withdrew, an emergency order against Range that charged the company with contaminating two wells. An internal watchdog agency found the EPA was legally justified in its decisions on the case.

Lipsky, who on Saturday hosted an open house to make his case about his claims of high levels of gas in his well water that included a demonstration of lighting the water on fire, and “Gasland” movie director Josh Fox attended Wednesday’s hearing.

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