What To Expect From A President Perry On The Environment? Some Texas-Sized Clues

08/18/2011 09:03 am ET | Updated Oct 18, 2011

What would President Rick Perry's environmental agenda look like?

For clues, one need only examine Perry's record as governor of Texas, where the chairman of the state environmental agency writes vitriolic letters to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and questions the science behind climate change.

Bryan Shaw , a 2007 Perry appointee to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality who became the agency's chairman in 2009, opined in a guest column in the El Paso Times last month that a new EPA rule designed to reduce cross-state air pollution from coal-fired power plants was in fact "aimed at cutting Texas jobs, cutting Texas economic growth, increasing Texas energy costs, and harming Texas energy security."

The column closely followed a statement by Perry himself, who called the rule "another example of heavy-handed and misguided action from Washington, D.C."

Perry's gubernatorial campaign received more than $5 million in contributions from energy companies and their employees during the 2009-2010 election cycle, according to data compiled by the nonpartisan National Institute on Money in State Politics . Among Perry's largest contributors during the cycle: Houston oilmen Jeffrey Hildebrand and Gary Petersen , and Valero Energy Corp . Oil and gas companies consistently are among the state's biggest polluters.

Perry recently told the Christian Broadcast Network that he prays for President Obama every day, asking in particular that "his EPA back down these regulations that are causing businesses to hesitate to spend money."

Shaw, in June 30 testimony before the a Senate clean air and nuclear safety subcommittee, attacked another EPA rule meant to limit emissions of mercury and other toxic compounds from coal- and oil-fired power plants. Shaw maintained, among other things, that "any health benefits [from the rule] would be insubstantial compared to the cost of regulation" and expressed concern that "the reliability of the Texas electrical power system will be severely compromised."

And in a testy letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and Regional Administrator Al Armendariz a year ago, Shaw and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said they would defy EPA regulations - stemming from a 2006  U.S. Supreme Court decision , Massachusetts v. EPA - requiring Texas to begin issuing permits for greenhouse gas emissions from industrial sources.

Shaw declined Wednesday, through a spokeswoman at the agency he chairs, to be interviewed by iWatch News . Catherine Frazier, a spokeswoman in the governor's office, said "the governor is proud of [Shaw's] leadership and expects he will put Texas's interests at the top of his decision-making."

Frazier said that Perry, like Shaw, finds the science linking human activities to climate change to be "very questionable." The EPA, she said, "continues to impose burdensome, job-killing mandates on Texas and the governor believes there needs to be a balanced approach to protecting jobs and protecting the environment. Texas has created a model for how to accomplish that goal."

Environmental activists in Texas say they grew worried about Shaw when he disclosed during his 2009 confirmation hearing that he didn't believe the science on climate change was "fully settled."