Ed Sterling

AUSTIN — Gov. Rick Perry on Dec. 9 wrote to Lisa Jackson, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency director, in hopes of having the agency withdraw a ruling that admits to the health danger of carbon dioxide in the air we all breathe.

The EPA announced Dec. 7 that greenhouse gases (water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and ozone) threaten the public health and welfare of the American people. EPA also cited evidence that “GHG” emissions from on-road vehicles contribute to that threat.

Perry, joined by state officials and industry chiefs, held a press conference in La Porte Dec. 9 to talk about the EPA ruling.

“The unelected bureaucrats at the EPA have effectively and unilaterally ended any honest debate on this vital issue,” Perry said. “A cap and tax system would force Texans to bear more than their share of negative effects, including an average increase in annual living costs of approximately $1,200 per household and the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs. I’m a firm believer that Washington’s one-size-fits all approaches don’t work, whether you’re talking energy policies, health care reform or economic development,” he said.

Perry refers above to “cap and trade,” a federal plan to control air pollution by limiting the amount of pollutants a company may discharge. If a company uses all of its pollution “credits,” it may buy credits from another company that has some to spare.

Cap and trade operates under the theory that companies will cut back or clean up their emissions, and cumulatively, the less pollution, the cleaner and healthier the air.

Public Utility Commission Chairman Barry Smitherman said cap and trade “will cost trillions (of dollars) with no guarantee of results, except lost jobs and higher electricity prices.”

Letters target

 uninsured motorists

The Texas Department of Insurance announced Dec. 8 that about 100,000 Texas drivers will receive a one-page letter because they could not be matched with an active auto insurance policy for a period of at least 60 days.

The letters come through TexasSure, a vehicle insurance verification program available to the state’s 254 county tax assessor-collectors since June 2008 and state law enforcement since October 2008.

The goal of the program is to reduce the number of uninsured drivers. The presence of uninsured drivers on the road drives up auto insurance costs for insured drivers.

Appliance rebate

program is set

Texas Comptroller Susan Combs on Dec. 11 announced the state will use about $23 million in federal stimulus funds for a mail-in rebate program for consumers who purchase certain energy efficient household appliances between April 16 and April 25, 2010.

The rebates are for consumers who buy eligible Energy Star appliances and replace the same type of old appliance that is functional. Included are Energy Star certified refrigerators, freezers, room air conditioners, central air conditioners, heat pumps, water heaters, clothes washers and dishwashers, Combs said.

An additional $75 recycling rebate will go to consumers who buy an eligible appliance and recycle the same type of functional old appliance.

The 10-day purchase period was set to coincide with Earth Day, April 22, 2010.

State sales tax

   intake declines

Comptroller Combs on Dec. 11 said the state collected $1.7 billion in sales tax in November, down 14.4 percent compared to November 2008.

Collections were down in oil and natural gas production, construction, manufacturing and retail trade.

Language extends tolling ban

U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, a member of the Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations subcommittee, on Dec. 11 announced that her language reinforcing a current ban on placing tolls on existing interstate highways in Texas through September 2010 was included in pending legislation she expects to be signed into law.

Bill contains Ike

recovery money

The U.S. House on Dec. 10 and the U.S. Senate on Dec. 13 passed a $1.1 trillion spending bill, which includes funds to help Galveston and other communities hit by Hurricane Ike in September 2008. The bill awaits President Obama’s signature.

Language in the bill makes matching community development block grant funding available for hurricane-damaged cities in Texas coastal areas still in need of recovery assistance. The language was inserted into the bill by U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Waco.