2011 was the year of Texas’ historic drought, and it was also the year my dad sold all the cattle on our ranch, which had been in our family for four generations. The drought brought to close a chapter in my family’s history, and a change in our long-standing relationship to the land that had given back to us for so long.
I’m not only a ninth generation Texan, but also the ninth generation of my family to be born in the City of Laredo. The community I come from is not wealthy. In fact, it is very poor. Laredo’s poverty rate is at about 30 percent. And it is not only poor but it is also 95 percent Mexican-American. Poverty and racism are factors that make communities vulnerable to all kinds of impacts, and climate change is one of them.
But my family is lucky. Even though our cattle business was impacted by the drought, my father has a career outside of ranching that makes up most of his income. The same is not true for the many people who were impacted by agricultural losses that year, totaling $10 billion statewide. National reports noted that temperature extremes were connected to manmade climate change, which doubled the chance that heat waves would occur. Read More
EDF’s Maia Draper co-wrote this post
We’ve written before about the Air Pollutant Watch List, a Texas program for addressing harmful air pollutants that pose a particularly high risk to public health.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) adds areas to the Air Pollution Watch List where monitoring data show persistently high concentrations of air toxics above the state’s health-based guidelines for these substances.
Listing an area on the Air Pollution Watch List enables TCEQ to dedicate additional time and resources to reducing air toxic emissions in these areas. A listing can serve as an important tool for reducing dangerous air pollution and protecting public health.
However, since 2007, TCEQ has removed 14 monitored pollutants in 10 areas from the Air Pollution Watch List. TCEQ says that average concentration levels of air toxics in these areas no longer exceed state guidelines, and therefore that additional scrutiny and resources to encourage air quality improvements are no longer necessary. Read More
We’re entering the home stretch of the 85th Session of the Texas Legislature.
Now past the Session’s midway point, legislators and advocates are working hard to ensure their bills cross the finish line. Here’s a look at which water, clean energy, and climate bills have been filed, including those we hope will rise to the top.
In the 1930s, Texas meteorologist Isaac Klein reportedly said Texas is a land of eternal drought, interrupted occasionally by biblical floods. Luckily the state is in a relatively wet period: The majority of Texas is drought-free and just under half the state is in the lowest bracket of drought.
But Texans understand water should always be on our minds, so it’s no surprise there are dozens of water bills this Session. Read More
From a video wherein Ms. White discusses the "benefits" of carbon pollution.
By: Keith Gaby, Senior Communications Director – Climate, Health, and Political Affairs
For the top White House environmental position, Director of the Council on Environmental Quality, President Trump is considering Kathleen Hartnett White. She’s a registered lobbyist, and is currently with the Texas Public Policy Foundation, an advocacy group funded in large part by the energy industry. She seems to have spent most of her time there spreading “alternative facts” on air pollution and climate change.
As my colleague Jeremy Symons wrote when White was considered to lead EPA, she has long been a critic of the EPA’s efforts to reduce toxic air pollution such as soot and mercury. In a 2016 op-ed for The Hill she attacked the agency for pursuing standards to reduce air pollution from fossil fuels. Read More
By Jon Goldstein and Ben Ratner
Much ink has been spilled recently about big new oil and gas investments in the Permian Basin across West Texas and Southeastern New Mexico. What some are dubbing “Permania” includes a more than $6 billion investment by ExxonMobil in New Mexico acreage and an almost $3 billion one by Noble Energy across the border in Texas, among others. But a large question remains: will these types of big bets also come with the needed investments to limit methane emissions?
It’s not just an academic question. The answer will go a long way toward revealing if industry actors plan to operate in a way that serves the best interest of local communities and taxpayers. Unfortunately, New Mexico is currently the worst in the nation for waste of natural gas resources from federal lands (such as those that are found in large parts of the state’s Permian Basin). Largely avoidable venting, flaring and leaks of natural gas from these sites also puts a big hole in taxpayers’ wallets, robbing New Mexico taxpayers of $100 million worth of their natural gas resources every year and depriving the state budget of millions more in royalty revenue that could be invested in urgent state needs like education.
The Texas electricity market is evolving. Low prices have helped natural gas become the dominant electricity generation resource, surpassing coal for the first time. The state’s unique competitive wholesale market, along with recently built transmission lines, have led to exciting opportunities for the rapid development of wind and solar generation. But in looking at the cost of various fuel sources and Texas’ energy future, confusion about electricity subsidies needs to be addressed.
Yes, wind and solar power have recently benefitted from the federal Production Tax Credit and Investment Tax Credit. That said, it’s important to recognize that natural gas and coal generation have enjoyed state and federal incentives for a century, and continue to do so.
The tax benefits for wind and solar generation are not the same as those for fossil fuel generation, but each plays a similar role: Tax benefits affect the final cost of electricity. Read More