Author Archives: Jim Marston

As New Energy Secretary, Rick Perry Will Inherit Trump’s Assault on American Clean Energy

Rick Perry by Gage SkidmoreThose of us who lived through Rick Perry’s governorship in Texas were concerned he’d take his “pollution-first” mentality to Washington. But the Trump administration’s assault on clean energy started before Perry cleared the first hurdle for becoming Secretary of Energy today, signaling he’ll likely be confirmed by the full Senate.

In two short weeks, President Trump laid out the dismal, dirty, and dangerous energy platform he’ll expect Rick Perry to execute. It’s up to us to protect and defend the jobs clean energy creates, along with its benefits for business, consumers, health, and our natural resources.

Energy efficiency
President Trump’s regulatory freeze halted four rules designed to reduce energy waste and, consequently, energy bills and greenhouse gas pollution. The Washington Post reported, “The freeze would appear to have the effect of sweeping up four very nearly finished Energy Department energy efficiency standards, affecting an array of products, including portable air conditioners and commercial boilers.” Heating and cooling use the most energy in buildings. This rule on commercial air-conditioners was published last year. The amount of C02 reduction and the fact that the Department of Energy negotiated the rule with industry make it a landmark example of how efficiency rules don’t hurt manufacturers while saving utility customers billions of dollars. Closing off this avenue of cooperation between the government and industry stakeholders takes away drive for innovation and allows others (China) to take the lead. Read More »

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Could Rick Perry Forego his Special-Interest Past for a Clean Energy Future?

rick-perry-by-gage-skidmore-flickrBy now you may have heard that Rick Perry, former Governor of Texas, is President-elect Trump’s pick for Energy secretary. If appointed, he will be succeeding Samuel Bodman, Doctor of Science in chemical engineering from MIT; Steven Chu, PhD in physics from the University of California, Berkeley; and Ernest Moniz, PhD in theoretical physics from Stanford University.

Since the majority of the budget of the Department of Energy (DOE) is spent on nuclear waste clean-up and very technical research projects, the fact that Gov. Perry doesn’t measure up to his predecessors in his scientific credentials is disappointing. All the more so that his track record is one of unquestioning support of highly polluting interests in his state.

I have written about Perry plenty of times, so it should come as no surprise that I am less than thrilled with the idea of him heading the same department he famously declared he would eliminate.

Put simply: The appointment of Rick Perry is "open season" on the environment, and all who care about the health of their families should be concerned. Time and again, he has put polluters over people for political gain, and leveraged backroom deals with special interests — the rest of the economy and the air be damned. My only hope is that he takes to heart the jobs and economic growth resulting from Texas wind power, and uses it to steer the DOE toward fostering a thriving clean energy economy. Read More »

Posted in Coal, Wind| Comments are closed

Market Forces are Driving Coal’s Demise and Cleaning Up the Grid in Texas

power lines unsplash croppedWhat do economists and environmentalists have in common? When it comes to Texas’ energy future, more than you may think.

According to a new study from the Brattle Group, a reputable, national economics consulting firm with extensive experience in Texas’ electricity sector, market forces are leading to coal’s rapid decline in the Lone Star State. Moreover, rapidly-growing cleaner electricity sources like natural gas and renewable energy will be able to entirely meet Texas’ additional power needs – without increasing electric bills. We couldn’t agree more.

That said, we’re confident the impacts are going to be even more powerful in terms of Texas’ wind, solar, and energy efficiency. And the latest report from Texas’ main grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), continues to support that expectation. Read More »

Posted in ERCOT, Natural gas, Renewable Energy| Comments are closed

What the Texas Public Policy Foundation Doesn’t Want You to Know about the Clean Power Plan

monkey-557586_640 pixabayEvery time I open the Austin American-Statesman and see a negative op-ed on America’s first nationwide limits on power plant carbon pollution – the Clean Power Plan – I think, “Oh boy. Some new industry water-carrier opposing commonsense efforts to improve public health.”

Then I get to the end of the babble and surprise! It’s not anyone new. It’s our old pals at Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) regurgitating the same tired nonsense.

TPPF claims it is trying to protect people’s wallets – which is true if by ‘people,’ you mean its members. Just take a look at its donor list, which includes out-of-state interests like the Koch Brothers and Big Tobacco, as well as major coal players like The American Coalition for Clean Coal and Texas coal-burning electric generators.

Now, to be sure, TPPF is not the only group telling lies and fearmongering about the clean air standards. But at least here in Texas, it seems to be leading the pack of spreading misinformation. They don’t want Texans to realize the pollution standards are good for our health, water supply, and economy. Here are a few other things they’d prefer you didn’t know about the Clean Power Plan: Read More »

Posted in Air Pollution, Clean Power Plan, TPPF| Comments are closed

Texas’ Attorney General, Governor Could Learn from Fellow Republicans on Clean Power Plan

texas capitol with flagsIf you are a regular reader of our blog, you already know that the Clean Power Plan – the first-ever nationwide limits on carbon pollution from power plants – represents a giant victory for Texans’ air and health. Even better, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) plan holds the promise of creating clean energy jobs while saving water. This should be music to Texas’ ears since we are rich with clean energy potential and have long suffered from drought.

Yet, recently our Attorney General, Ken Paxton, proudly ignored all of these factors and declared Texas is filing a lawsuit against the commonsense standards. Shortly after, Governor Greg Abbott said he fully supports Paxton. From the way they phrase it, you’d think the Feds were threatening their very right to breathe (which is ironic considering they are actually trying to protect it).

In contrast, we have Christine Todd Whitman, former Republican governor of New Jersey and former head of the EPA under George W. Bush. With such a conservative record, you may assume Whitman is in the same camp as Paxton and Gov. Abbott – but you’d be wrong.

Instead, Whitman undertook a rational evaluation of the plan and, as a result, is coming out in support. Let’s take a closer look at her reaction to the Clean Power Plan in relation to that of our Attorney General and Governor. Read More »

Posted in Clean Air Act, Clean Power Plan| Read 3 Responses

Hartnett White and Pals Twist Science for Sake of Fossil Fuel Interests

power-plant-pixabayEarlier this year, I wrote about how Kathleen Hartnett White, director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, was confused about the basic science related to carbon dioxide (CO2) and just how much of it is good for us. She mistakenly asserted the more CO2 the better, while nearly all climate scientists agree high CO2 emissions are wreaking havoc on our planet. Time and again science indicates we are looking at irreversible, catastrophic effects if we don’t do something about it.

Apparently Hartnett White hasn’t gone back to class – she’s at it again and she’s brought her friends. We recently saw the launch of the CO2 Coalition, a new group aiming to paint CO2 as a nutrient rather than a pollutant, of which she is a member. The real purpose of the coalition is to debunk Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, the nation’s first-ever limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants, using “science based facts” (as opposed to emotion-based?).

Similar to the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Hartnett-White’s other fossil fuel-funded alliance, the CO2 Coalition is just another front-group pretending to use science in order to protect their corporate interests. Read More »

Posted in Clean Power Plan, Climate Change, Coal, TPPF| Comments are closed
  • About the author

    Vice President, Clean Energy
    Jim Marston is the founding director of the Texas office of Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), located in Austin, where he has served since its beginning in 1988. He is also a leader of the Pecan Street, Inc., a partnership that includes Austin Energy, the University of Texas, the Chamber of Commerce, and several large high/clean tech companies aimed at making fundamental changes in the nation's electricity grid.

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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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