AM Update: 8/14/12
8:35 am
Tue August 14, 2012

AM Update: DOJ Defends UT in Race Case, Win for Texas Over EPA, A&M Shooting Update

Justice Department Supports UT’s Admissions Process

The Obama Administration says the University of Texas at Austin's consideration of race in admitting students is constitutional. 

The U.S. Justice Department revealed its support in a brief filed yesterday with the U.S. Supreme Court. The Department says UT does not use race as an absolute deciding factor and that it comes into play in relatively few admission decisions.

Supreme Court justices will hear arguments on the case, known as Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin in October. Abigail Fisher is challenging the university’s admission policy, claiming that she was denied admission to UT in 2008 because she is white.

UT officials have argued that race, along with many other factors determine admission, and that considering race helps the university promote the educational benefits of diversity.

Individuals, groups and organizations have filed briefs in support of UT’s position, called amicus briefs, including the family of Heman Sweatt, who was the first African American law student at UT, as well as dozens of U.S. and Texas lawmakers. A full list is available online.

EPA to Review 2010 Flexible Permitting Plan Rejection

A federal appeals court has ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency violated the Clean Air Act by rejecting a Texas program for approving air permits.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling Monday concerns the EPA's 2010 rejection of the state's flexible permitting program. That decision forced more than 100 industrial emitters, including some of the nation's largest refineries, to work directly with the EPA to get operating papers.

The case is among the keystones of Gov. Rick Perry's battles with the EPA over the state's plans for enforcing federal clean-air standards. The EPA had decided that the state's plans for issuing air emissions permits were not strict enough to prevent air quality deterioration.

The flexible permit program allows plants to operate under an emissions "umbrella" but did not separately detail pollution from different sources. EPA regulators argued the rules made it difficult to track polluters.

Neil Carman of the Sierra Club in Texas says the ruling likely means the EPA will have to better explain its objections to flexible permitting as the case proceeds. Until that time, he says, the state “must rely on the existing air pollution permitting program" that state regulators had wanted to make more flexible in the first place.

Suspect’s Identity Released in College Station Shooting

The city of College Station has released the name of the suspect in Monday’s shooting that left three people dead, including a law officer, the alleged shooter and an apparent bystander. The city identifies the suspect as 35-year-old Thomas Caffall.

Caffall allegedly shot and killed Constable Brian Bachman. Bachman was serving an eviction notice at Caffall’s home near the Texas A&M campus. The College Station police department is still trying to determine exactly what happened.

Bachman died later of injuries sustained in the shootout. Reports of gunfire led University officials to issue a Code Maroon—alerting students of the shooting and telling them to take cover until the situation was under control.