In Denton, Perry talks environment, remains mum on presidential run

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by BRAD WATSON

WFAA

Posted on July 15, 2011 at 1:31 PM

Updated Friday, Jul 15 at 6:18 PM

DENTON - Gov. Rick Perry isn't saying he'll run for president yet, but others Friday predicted he will, including one of the top Republican office holders in Texas.

Perry stopped in Denton Friday, but remained mum on his political plans by avoiding taking questions in a setting where he's previously talked and talked.

Following a tradition of Texas governors after a legislative session, Perry is ceremonially signing bills around the state. He was in Denton to sign three energy-related bills and used the opportunity to rail on EPA rules over Texas air quality.

“Washington insists on this new layer of bureaucracy layers that are going to cost jobs,” Perry said.

Some new Texas laws will further protect the environment as the state continues to lead the nation in oil and gas production, Perry said.

"The truth of the matter is America needs all the innovation that we can muster to reduce our dependency on foreign sources of energy," he said at Peterbilt Motors Co. in Denton. "And again, our combination of job creation, improved air quality here in Texas (shows) that it can be done, and that is the right way. We refer to it as the Texas way."

But, very untraditionally, Perry left taking no questions from reporters, just as he did in San Antonio Thursday at another bill signing. That leaves others, like Sen. John Cornyn during a taping of Inside Texas Politics, to talk about his possible presidential run.

“I do believe Gov. Perry will run for president," Cornyn said during the taping.

Perry has not talked with the Texas media for more than six weeks about state issues or the completed legislative sessions as his possible White House run dominates the state's politics.

So, whereas he took reporter questions at bill signings in May - even confirming at one signing he might run by saying, “I am going to think about it” - he remains mum for the moment.

But, Cornyn thinks this is Perry's moment.

“This would be the best chance he'll probably ever have and people are still looking for a candidate to run," he said.

For now, Perry looks for the door, not talking about whether he'll run for president.

Starting next summer, drillers must publicly disclose the chemicals they use when extracting oil and gas from dense rock formations. The issue has taken on national importance as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is used in more states.

Texas was the first state to pass such a law when Perry signed the bill last month.

One bill provides incentives for companies to switch their heavy vehicles from diesel fuel to natural gas. It also provides grants to businesses that build natural gas refueling centers along interstate highways connecting Dallas, Houston and San Antonio.

Another bill provides funding for additional air monitoring in the Barnett Shale, a 5,000-square-mile underground rock formation packed with natural gas spanning about two dozen North Texas counties.

These new laws show that lawmakers don't have to make "a choice between economic growth and a clean environment," said Bryan Shaw, chairman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

But some environmental groups have said the state has failed to address serious pollution problems, and Perry cares more about businesses' profits than residents' health. Texas has more oil refineries, chemical plants and coal-fired power plants than any other state — and leads the nation in greenhouse gas emissions and industrial pollution.

Cornyn’s interview airs on WFAA-TV’s Inside Texas Politics during Sunday’s 9 a.m. portion of News 8 Daybreak.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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