I have two items from my latest reading of Rick Perry’s Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America from Washington.
1. Perry referred to an example in which he believed that federal intervention made matters worse, and an incident in which it had the potential to do so. First, according to Perry, the federal government during Katrina was slow and inefficient, even as it blocked attempts by the states to redress the situation. According to Perry, the federal government prohibited Texas from working with other states to spread the survivors out as well as blocked an airlift.
Second, Perry explains why Texas turned down money that the federal government was offering through the Department of Education’s Race to the Top program. Were Texas to receive the money, it would have to comply with Washington’s standards, and it would cost Texas $3 billion to change its textbooks and material in order to do so. Moreover, Texas was already performing well academically, and the money that it rejected amounted to only $75 per student, which was “only enough to pay for the operation of Texas public schools for about two days” (page 166).
2. On pages 156-157, Perry defends Texas’ environmental record. He says that Texas had air and water pollution programs before the U.S. Congress passed them, that Texas “produces the most wind power and has the largest wind farm of any state in the nation”, and that Texas’ deregulation of electricity helped to increase the development of alternative energies. Perry quotes an April 8, 2010 article by Tom Fowler, “Texas Still Leads U.S. in Wind Power—-But There’s New Competition” (at the “News Watch Energy” blog, at http://www.chron.com), which states that deregulation has led to “greener innovations that make power more efficiently” and a reduction in “waste and energy cost in Texas.”
Earlier in the book, on pages 88-92, Perry says that Texas over the past decade has increased its air quality. Texas flexibly allowed facilities to determine how they will contain emissions and meet federal standards, rather than capping emissions from “each source (like a smokestack) within the facility” (page 89). Texas also has no “grandfathered facilities”, thereby encouraging “older, dirtier facilities to clean themselves up even though they were not required to under federal law” (page 60). Rather than hitting businesses with fines and penalties, Texas works with businesses and aims to protect the environment and to increase jobs. As Perry notes, Texans want to live where their air and water are clean! And Perry says that nitrogen oxide emissions have decreased, even in Houston, which has had a 20 percent increase in population.
There are at least two sides to every story, for some have argued that Perry’s environmental record is not particularly good (see here—-but some of these articles acknowledge that Texas is good on wind-power—-and also here, which attributes Texas’ increased air quality to what the federal government has done, while also noting where Texas has problems). But I think that what I’ve highlighted in items 1 and 2 show Perry at his best, as he relies on argument rather than cheap-shots at Democrats (which, unfortunately, he employs elsewhere in his book). While I am open to different ways to clean up the environment, even conservative ways, I still take issue with some of Perry’s environmental positions, such as his dismissal of global warming.