Texas Clean Air Matters

Public health crisis underscores need to protect vulnerable Texans. Here’s how the PUC is responding.

As Texans contend with the threat of the COVID-19 virus and an economic downturn, the state’s Public Utility Commission has adopted a proposal to prevent customers from having their power shut off in the midst of the current crisis.

Chairman DeAnn Walker initially put forward a set of policies on Tuesday to protect the state’s most vulnerable while keeping our competitive electricity market healthy and resilient. Today, the PUC advanced those policies with some changes.

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Posted in Utilities / Comments are closed

Report shows Texas leadership on solar and wind is helping safeguard our power grid

Last summer, Texas’ electric grid was put to the test by scorching temperatures that sent power demand soaring and raised the specter of potential brownouts. Thankfully, the grid did what it was designed to do and pulled through without any major issues.

This week, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas released its projection for how we’ll fare this summer. Thanks to massive growth of solar and wind resources made possible by Texas’ competitive electricity market, the outlook is much improved.

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Posted in Demand Response, Energy Efficiency, ERCOT, Renewable Energy, Solar, Wind / Tagged , , , , , | Comments are closed

Water scarcity is a challenge for Texas, rushing ahead of the science could scuttle solutions

Water scarcity is a challenge facing many Texas communities, and it’s encouraging to see how many state leaders are proactively exploring solutions to our growing water needs. This has brought the oil and gas industry and the massive volumes of water it uses and produces each year into the conversation.

One positive opportunity area exists within the state’s oil and gas sector, which uses large amounts of water to hydraulically fracture, or frack, wells. Operators have begun to reduce their reliance on fresh water by “recycling” wastewater within the oilfield to meet their operational needs – an effort that should be expanded as much as possible to take pressure off fresh resources.

However, serious problems arise when we start to look outside the oilfield and consider oil and gas produced water as a potential “future water supply” beyond industry operations – a topic the Texas legislature is currently considering.

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Posted in Drought, Energy-Water Nexus, Natural gas, Oil / Tagged , , , | Comments are closed

As Houston unveils EV roadmap, Texas cities and fleet owners should take a closer look at electric buses

Last month, the city of Houston announced the formation of EVolve Houston, a partnership focused on accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles, slashing transportation-related emissions and delivering cleaner air for the region. Considering Houston has some of the highest per capita greenhouse gas emissions in the country and nearly half of these emissions come from transportation, this strategy is a critical component for meeting ambitious climate goals and improving quality of life.

As the Energy Capital of the World goes electric with the goal of 30% of new car sales being EVs by 2030, cities, transit agencies and fleet owners across the state should also consider how investing in electric buses presents an opportunity to cut pollution, deliver on climate goals and generate economic benefits.

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Posted in Air Pollution, Climate Change, Electric Vehicles, Houston / Tagged , | Comments are closed

New Permian data show how worst offenders prevent progress on flaring

Texas’ Permian Basin isn’t just the site of the world’s biggest oil boom. It’s also the source of one of the country’s most unnecessary wastes of energy and associated air pollution. The burning off (flaring) and intentional release (venting) of natural gas has proven to be a black eye Permian producers can’t shake. A previous EDF analysis of 2014-2015 data found that operators in the Permian Basin flared and wasted more than 45 Bcf of natural gas in 2015 alone, enough to serve all 400,000 households in Texas Permian counties for two and a half years.

Production since then has boomed, and the Permian’s flaring problem has too. The burning off of associated gas is predicted to only get worse through 2019, and analysts predict the entire Permian Basin could flare as much as 1 Bcf a day in the coming year. That’s nearly four times the amount of gas produced by the Gulf of Mexico’s most productive gas facility.

EDF has recently analyzed the 2018 flaring data released by the Railroad Commission of Texas, the state’s oil and gas regulator, and beyond illustrating the scale of the problem – operators burned enough gas to serve all the heating and cooking needs of the state’s seven largest cities – the numbers tell us two main things:

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Posted in Air Pollution, Natural gas, Oil / Comments are closed

Houston teens take their fight for clean air to Washington, D.C.

Houston-area students from EDF’s Environmental Youth Council visited Washington, D.C., to learn about the ways that the policies that affect them and their families are negotiated.

A trip from Houston to Washington, D.C., was the exclamation point at the end of the first year of EDF’s Environmental Youth Council program.

Through the program, students attending Pasadena Memorial High School, Galena Park High School and Raul Yzaguirre School for Success — all located on the east side of Houston near the heavy industry located up and down the busy Houston Ship Channel — have committed to learning about environmental health, air quality and public policy and advocacy.

EDF was excited to take this first cohort of students to the nation’s capital to explore the city, learn more about organizations working on environmental issues and gain a better understanding of how legislative representatives create the policies that impact their lives.

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Posted in Air Pollution, Environmental Justice, Houston / Tagged , , , | Comments are closed