Texas Clean Air Matters

Largest Texas City Embraces Private Clean Energy Finance Program in Record Year

By: Charlene Heydinger, Executive Director, Keeping PACE in Texas

htown skyline-720075_640 pixabayAs a bustling metropolis and the biggest city in Texas, Houston has a lot of buildings – and that equals a lot of opportunity to make these facilities more energy- and water-efficient.

Houston grabbed headlines last month when it became the first in Texas to adopt a citywide Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program. PACE will help Houston building owners undertake much-needed water and energy efficiency improvements through private financing – all without having to worry about steep upfront costs. This move means substantial economic development potential, in addition to environmental benefits, for the nation’s fourth largest city.

It’s also a sign this innovative clean energy finance tool is catching fire in Texas: Houston joins Austin’s Travis County, which embraced PACE in March, and a Dallas city ordinance is just on the horizon. Additionally, Cameron and Willacy Counties expect to bring PACE to the Rio Grande Valley in January. And to cap the year off, Texas’s first-ever PACE project – $1.25 million in retrofits for a major Austin mall – was just announced.

2015 marks a record year for the PACE finance approach across Texas, and interest is growing in several other counties. Even better, all are following the stakeholder-designed PACE in a Box model toolkit – meaning PACE is uniform, user-friendly, and market-based throughout the state. Read More »

Posted in Energy Efficiency / Tagged | Read 1 Response

Is the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality an Honest Broker for San Antonio’s Air Quality?

By Krystal Henagan, Moms Clean Air Force Texas Field Organizer

san_antonio_sign1Facing climbing ozone levels and non-attainment, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) deployed their top officials to host an “air quality” open house in the Alamo City, Texas, Monday. As a mother of an asthmatic son, I was looking forward to hearing the agency’s plans to improve our region’s poor air quality not only for him, but for the thousands of San Antonio children suffering from dirty air.

Those of us expecting a comprehensive overview of how the state agency was planning to work with local and federal agencies to provide regional solutions to clean up our air were deeply disappointed. Rather, the open house was a very bizarre orchestration of an oil and gas industry PR blitz held by TCEQ’s commissioners and toxicologist. Read More »

Posted in Air Pollution, Environment, Natural gas, Oil, Ozone, San Antonio, TCEQ / Read 1 Response

Pope Francis’ Climate Message Speaks to All Faiths

By: Reverend Sally G. Bingham, president and founder of Interfaith Power & Light

pope_francis_photo_wikimediaIt’s unfortunate that discussions about climate change, which should focus on solutions and our responsibility to act, often become political arguments. That’s why it’s so refreshing and important that Pope Francis, who will address Congress this month, is bringing us all back to what really matters.

The climate change debate should be about what kind of world we want to leave our children, and how we treat the most vulnerable among us.

I’m an Episcopal priest and have been working at the crossroads of religion and climate change for 15 years. I deeply respect Pope Francis’ powerful, moral voice.

All of us, Catholic or not, Christian or not, must recognize our responsibility and obligation to act in the face of human-induced climate change. Read More »

Posted in Climate Change / Comments are closed

Rustic or Dangerous? Why Keeping Treated Wood Materials Indoors Can be a Bad Idea

Telephone poles, cross ties, and other wood materials can be treated with chemicals that are dangerous to keep indoors.

Telephone poles, cross ties, and other wood materials can be treated with chemicals that are dangerous to keep indoors.

The below is a guest post from Mike Honeycutt, Director of Toxicology at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Environmental Defense Fund appreciates the agency’s efforts to alert the public about a serious indoor air health issue.

At the Toxicology Division of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), we often receive phone calls from citizens with questions about various environmental concerns. Over the past few months, we received several calls asking if it is safe to use old wood materials inside homes, the most concerning of which came this past week from a realtor in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. She had shown several homes recently that she suspected had used treated wood materials from telephone poles and cross ties as rustic accents. The realtor was concerned about using those materials inside where people could be exposed – and her intuition was spot-on. Read More »

Posted in Air Pollution, TCEQ / Tagged , | Comments are closed

State Can Further Empower Texans to Manage Their Electricity Use

thermostat flickrBy: Frank Lacey, Chairman of Advanced Energy Management Alliance and Senior Vice President, Regulatory and Market Strategy, for CPower

With blazing summer heat ahead, Texans need to know the electric grid is up to the challenge of keeping millions of air conditioners running at full speed, in addition to powering lights, electronics and other appliances.

Increasingly in the United States, keeping the electricity flowing (and avoiding blackouts) is in the hands of individuals and businesses themselves.

Through a process called demand response, consumers are empowered to manage their electricity usage when the grid is most strained – usually during heat waves or cold spells. In doing so, they improve grid reliability, save money, reduce environmental impact, and avoid the need for more power plants. Read More »

Posted in Demand Response, Legislation / Comments are closed