Smog blankets Houston, Texas, during a hot summer day.
Smog blankets Houston, Texas, during a hot summer day. - 
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Bill Radke: The Environmental Protection Agency doesn't think Texas is doing enough to keep its air clean. So today, the agency's expected to tell that state
that the federal government is taking over air quality permitting for about 39 factories.

From KUT in Austin, Ben Philpott reports.

Ben Philpott: What the federal government objects to most are the flexible permits that Texas issues to large plant and refineries. These allow the state to set a general limit on how much pollution an entire facility can release rather than restricting each smokestack within a plant.

Ralph Coker is a retired refinery manager who supports the Texas system, which he says allows companies to...

Ralph Coker: Put the best controls maybe on certain sources and less-than-most-efficient controls on some other small sources.

But the EPA believes each source of pollution should be tightly controlled. And today the agency is expected to tell the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality -- or TCEQ -- to fall in line.

Tom Smith is with public citizen Texas, a watchdog group that is concerned about the Texas system.

Tom Smith: Even the George Bush administration said to TCEQ -- this process isn't working. And the industry has actually sued EPA saying -- let's figure out what the rules are here cause we're steering blind.

But Texas Governor Rick Perry, who's up for reelection in November, is expected vigorously to oppose the EPA's move.

In Austin, I'm Ben Philpott for Marketplace.