Texas Clean Air Matters

Those Who Forget History in Texas are Doomed to Repeat It

(Credit: whoever)

Texas is home to some of the highest polluting power plants in the country.

Recently, the Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office announced plans to challenge the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed Clean Power Plan, which would place limits on carbon emissions from existing power plants for the first time in the country. A few days afterward, Texas Governor and former State Attorney General Greg Abbott pledged support for Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell's Just Say No campaign, an effort to encourage states not to comply with the upcoming federal regulations.

Apparently Texas has a short memory. Just a couple of years ago, Texas lost a series of challenges to EPA regarding greenhouse gas (GHG) permitting. Texas refused to issue GHG permits to new and modified large industrial sources of greenhouse gas emissions, resulting in the establishment of a dual permitting system. This meant industrial facilities, like power plants and refineries, needed to apply to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) for some air permits and separately to EPA for the portion of their permit addressing greenhouse gases.

Ultimately, however, Texas industry urged the state to issue the GHG portion of air quality permits as well. And in an about face, after spending millions of taxpayer dollars fighting common sense regulations, Texas regained the ability to issue the state’s GHG permits. Read More »

Posted in Air Pollution, Climate Change, GHGs, TCEQ, Uncategorized| Tagged , , , , , | 1 Response

CLEAN AIR Force Wins EPA Community Action Award

clean air partners logoCongratulations to the CLEAN AIR Force of Central Texas Clean Air Partners Program! They received the 2015 Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Excellence Award in the Community Action category.

The Clean Air Excellence Awards Program recognizes and honors outstanding innovative efforts to help make progress in achieving cleaner air. Awards are given to programs that directly or indirectly reduce pollutant emissions, demonstrate innovation, offer sustainable outcomes, and provide a model for others to follow. Read More »

Posted in Air Pollution, Environmental Protection Agency| Tagged | Leave a comment

Tragedy of the Commons in Texas: Citizens Lose if Bill Becomes Law

pollution-pixabayUpdate: Governor Abbott signed SB 709 into law on May 23, 2015.

I overheard a colleague last week say she was impressed a group of elementary school students were learning about the tragedy of the commons, and it reminded me of what's been going on at the Texas Legislature this session. The "tragedy of the commons" is a term coined in the late 60's by ecologist Garret Hardin, described as "a situation where individuals acting independently and rationally according to each's self-interest behave contrary to the best interests of the whole group by depleting some common resource." It’s an unfortunate allegory for Texas politics and specifically the passage of Senate Bill (SB) 709, which is on its way to the governor’s desk as I write this.

In this case, a few individuals (polluting corporations and the lawmakers they fund) are acting in their self-interest, creating legislation that will get more money in their pockets faster. Unfortunately, the best interests of the whole group (all Texans) are virtually forgotten, and common resources like healthy air and water will suffer. The final bill, SB 709 sponsored by Senator Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay), shows Texas' leadership cares more about protecting big polluters at the expense of its citizens.

And while Sen. Fraser’s bill was the one that ultimately passed, the companion measure in the House, House Bill 1865, by Representative Genie Morrison (R-Victoria) included the same agenda and language. Rep. Morrison is from Victoria, Texas. As someone who is supposed to be fighting for the best interests of her constituents, many in Victoria are questioning just whom Morrison and other Texas lawmakers represent. Read More »

Posted in Air Pollution, Environmental Justice, Environmental Protection Agency, TCEQ, Texas Permitting| Leave a comment

Governor Abbott, Senators Cornyn and Cruz Look Out for the Success of a State – it’s Just Not Ours

pinwheel-pixabayGovernor Greg Abbott and Texas Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz recently met in a meeting with Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell to discuss how they could sabotage the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed (CPP). The CPP would place the nation’s first-ever limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants – the rules for which are expected to be finalized this summer.

The reason for the meeting is simple: Sen. McConnell is currently touting a “just say no” approach to EPA’s regulations, advocating states refuse to create a compliance plan, which is clearly to protect his coal-producing state. He also supports legislation to let states opt-out of the pollution reduction program. After the closed-door meeting, Governor Abbott announced he is siding with the Senator from Kentucky on the CPP.

What the press release didn’t say: By aligning himself with Sen. McConnell, Governor Abbott is hurting Texas. Read More »

Posted in Air Pollution, Clean Power Plan, Natural gas, Renewable Energy, Solar, Wind| Leave a comment

Enviro Groups to Governor Abbott: Please Protect Texans’ Health

capitol-pixabayLast week, seven other Texas environmental groups came together with Environmental Defense Fund to deliver the following letter to Governor Abbott:

Dear Governor Abbott,

We are proud Texas likes to do things its own way. When Congress passed the Clean Air Act (CAA) and Clean Water Act (CWA) many decades ago, they included provisions that would allow the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to delegate administration of the related programs and regulations. Naturally, Texas applied for and received the right from EPA to manage the environmental permitting processes related to the CAA and CWA. A key component, though, was the obligation of states to meet the minimum requirements set by delegation of the federal rules, designed to ensure the safety and health of each state’s citizens.

We are very disappointed about the recent Senate Bill (SB) 709 by Senator Troy Fraser because it would put Texans’ health at risk for the sake of industry, all to solve a problem that does not exist. In addition, this bill puts the State of Texas at risk of losing EPA’s authorization to administer these permitting programs. If we want to protect the health of future generations of Texans, as well as Texas to remain in control of our environmental permitting programs, you must veto this bill. Read More »

Posted in Air Pollution, Environment, Environmental Protection Agency| Leave a comment

Want to See EDF at SXSW Eco 2015? Cast Your Vote!

Vote-croppedEvery year, SXSW Eco – one of the most high-profile environmental conferences – selects its programming based on votes from the public. This means anyone, regardless of whether you submitted a panel, can cast a vote.

This year, seven experts from Environmental Defense Fund are featured on dynamic panels that cover everything from solar equity and new utility business models to innovative building efficiency programs and the threat of methane pollution. To make sure EDF and energy-related programming is represented at the conference in Austin, TX this October, we are asking our readers to please vote for your favorite EDF panels and presentations. Read More »

Posted in Energy Efficiency, Energy-Water Nexus, Natural gas, Renewable Energy, Smart Grid| Leave a comment
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    Confluence of SJR, Old, and Middle rivers

    Advocating for healthier air and cleaner energy in Texas through public education and policy influence.

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