Since regular readers of this blog are familiar with the Clean Power Plan – America's first-ever limits on carbon pollution from power plants – we wanted to let you know of a legal setback. It's very important the plan moves forward, but fortunately Texas is moving toward a clean energy economy either way.
-The EDF Texas Clean Air Matters team
By: Keith Gaby, Communications Director, Climate & Air Program
In a surprise procedural decision yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court put the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan on pause while a lower court reviews it.
The Court did not weigh in on the merits of the Environmental Protection Agency’s plan, and didn’t explain its reasoning, so we don’t know the legal basis for this unusual decision.
But we do know that the court has repeatedly upheld the EPA’s authority – in fact, its responsibility – to limit climate pollution under the Clean Air Act.
So we remain confident that the Clean Power Plan rests on a solid legal foundation, as states, power companies, legal experts and air pollution control officials nationwide have already recognized. Read More
Last week, GridWise Alliance released its 3rd Annual Grid Modernization Index (GMI), a ranking of every state’s progress toward modernization of our nation's electric system – and Texas impressively placed third. The Alliance, a leading smart grid coalition which includes Environmental Defense Fund, based its assessment on state policies, customer engagement, and investment in advancing grid operations.
As we move toward a smarter, more efficient electric system, Texas is emerging as a leader in grid modernization. And with three recent smart-grid grants from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) SunShot Initiative, the Lone Star State could climb to the top of the GMI list.
Since 2011, the DOE has awarded millions of dollars through the SunShot Initiative to a variety of public and private entities. The goal is to make solar energy cost-competitive with other forms of electricity by the end of the decade, meaning it would cost the same to get your power from solar as from more traditional sources like coal. In the short amount of time since the program began, the solar industry is already 70 percent of the way there.
As the sixth largest electricity consumer in the country, Texas could greatly contribute to reaching this goal, especially with recent DOE support given to projects run by Austin Energy, Pecan Street, and GeoCF: Read More
2015 proved to be another weird weather year around the country, especially for Texas. 80 degrees and dry in Austin on Christmas Day, spring wildflowers in bloom, and kids playing outside in shorts – a surprise ending to a wild ride of drought followed by devastating floods followed by drought and then more floods.
Texas is used to drought-flood cycles and extreme weather, but last year the pendulum seemed to swing wildly from one to the next. And climate models predict intense swings for the future as well: After the next flood is another drought, which will likely be more intense and longer than usual due to climate change.
Unfortunately, it seems like during our brief respites from drought, we also take a break from thinking about water scarcity. After the year we’ve just had, this should not be the case – water security should be at the top of Texans’ minds going into 2016. But there are two promising developments for our water future: the Clean Power Plan and examples that cities in other water-stressed Western states are setting. Read More
By: Christina Wolfe, manager, air quality, port and freight facilities, and Kate Zerrenner, manager, energy-water initiatives
An oxymoron is “a combination of words that have opposite or very different meanings,” according to Merriam-Webster (a commonly given example is “jumbo shrimp”). Ports – with an immense amount of traffic and heavy cargo coming and going – have recently been equated with power plants in terms of air pollution. Some might suggest that the concept of a ‘sustainable port’ is impossible.
It’s not, actually.
Earlier this year, the first “zero-emissions terminal in the world” opened at a port in the Netherlands using equipment that releases no pollutants from a tailpipe and on-site wind energy for power demands. And closer to home, large ports in the U.S. have taken promising steps, like the Port of Seattle’s aggressive energy efficiency initiatives.
Texas ports have some work to do, both to keep up with strong economic growth (like the record year the Port of Houston is projecting) and because Texas already leads the country in climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions. But the good news is there is a way they could very quickly up their game: the use of renewable energy. And in the midst of historic climate talks in Paris, there is no better time for Texas ports to consider commonsense investments that safeguard both public health and the global climate.
From Apple to General Electric, it is common practice in the corporate world for established juggernauts to invest significant sums for research and development. Why? Maintaining one’s reign atop a sector requires dynamic, cutting edge innovation.
The same logic applies to state economies. And when it comes to energy, Texas – where oil and gas reign king – has arguably been America’s most dominant state for the past century. Over recent years, however, technologies and developments reshaping the sector have advanced at an unprecedented rate. As a result, it’s become clear that the energy sector of the future will rely far more on clean energy and smart technologies than on fossil fuels.
The good news: Texas has by far the most potential for solar and wind generation in the United States, which means the Lone Star state might be even more energy-rich in the 21st century than it has been in the past. In addition, the state’s energy sector is trending cleaner due to market forces.
And, in case you needed more proof, 2015 has been a dynamite year for clean energy momentum in Texas. Here are five reasons why: Read More
Early morning on the square, Georgetown, Texas
Over the next four years, Texas’ energy landscape will change dramatically. For example, throughout the 630-mile, nine-hour drive from Denton, Texas to El Paso, rolling hills will dominate the horizon and aromas from pastures and barbeque pits will waft through windows, as they have for the past hundred years. What will have a far less prominent role, however, are coal-fired power plants.
That’s because there seems to be a domino effect occurring in Texas: more and more cities are turning to affordable, renewable energy to power their needs.
Denton, Georgetown, and other Texas clean energy pioneer cities
Earlier this month, the municipal electric utility that serves Denton, a North Texas city of 130,000 people, announced plans to get an impressive 70 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2019. That’s well above the 10 percent Texas currently receives from renewables (on average). Read More