Steven F. Hayward and Kenneth P. Green’s report “Texas Energy and the Energy of Texas” written for the Texas Public Policy Foundation and published last week is pseudo-economics underwritten by the Koch brothers (some of the world’s biggest polluters). The report simply ignores the health and economic costs of the pollution caused by coal production.
Most egregiously, the report claims that “only modest Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) reductions – if any – [will] be achieved by switching from coal to natural gas” (page 11). The fact is that in 2009, using data from the EPA’s public emissions database, natural gas power plants in Texas emitted 73% less NOx than did coal-fired power plants per unit of electricity produced. In addition, reducing Texas’ use of coal by switching to natural gas would reduce emissions of Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) by 99.9% and eliminate 100% of power plant mercury emissions. These estimated environmental benefits say nothing of the economic benefits of new jobs related to natural gas exploration and production as well as increased royalties and taxes for the state.
Every year of delay in a switch to natural gas means Texas sends another $1.91 billion to out of state to coal companies in faraway places like Wyoming. It protracts the challenge to cities like Dallas-Ft. Worth, San Antonio, Houston and Austin to comply with federal clean air standards, making it harder for them to attract new businesses and increasing the cleanup burden for businesses already located in Texas.
I have one thing to say in response to Hayward and Green’s “If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It” conclusion: Come down and tell that to the children losing funding for health, education and wellness programs, their mothers and fathers who fear losing their state jobs or the almost 4 million living with lifetime asthma in Texas.