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
In Texas, we are graced with world class clean energy at rock bottom prices. This means we are well positioned – more than any other state in our nation — to drive clean energy up while driving pollution and costs down. That’s excellent news when it comes to the Clean Power Plan, the carbon pollution standards finalized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in August.
Texas’ primary grid operator today released an updated Analysis of the Impacts of the Clean Power Plan and there are some bright spots. To start, the report by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) includes a scenario for Clean Power Plan compliance that is virtually identical to the one we included in our report, Well Within Reach: How Texas Can Comply With and Benefit from The Clean Power Plan. Hopefully, this means ERCOT recognizes the expanded role energy efficiency can play in meeting our state’s electricity needs, and sees there is a realistic pathway to meeting the Clean Power Plan’s goals. ERCOT’s analysis also confirms that compliance with the plan will keep Texans’ 2030 electric bills below 2002 prices, when Texas first opened the electric market to competition.
Plus, the report shows that renewable energy is projected to grow significantly in Texas – to 21 percent of installed capacity by 2030, regardless of the carbon standards. Only a two percent increase of renewables – coupled with an additional eight percent of generation fired by Texas-produced natural gas – is needed to meet the requirements of the Clean Power Plan.
However, there are some big Texas-sized energy solutions that the ERCOT press release altogether failed to address, even though they are in ERCOT’s full report. Read More
California has had success addressing air toxics challenges similar to those in Texas.
For all their differences, Texas and California have a few big environmental challenges in common: large populations that drive significant miles on roadways, major industry that drives economic sustainability, and the resulting air pollution. Specifically, high levels of air toxics are linked to ozone pollution, and thus associated with higher risks of cancer and respiratory problems.
Fortunately, California has a new study detailing successes the state has had in addressing these issues – and it contains valuable lessons for Texas. The “Ambient and Emission Trends of Toxic Air Contaminants in California” study, authored by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and published last month in Environmental Science and Technology, demonstrates how emissions and health risk have decreased due to landmark clean air standards on air toxics. Between 1990 and 2012, CARB monitored the seven most significant air toxics that are responsible for cancer risk in California and found that the state’s efforts resulted in a staggering 76 percent decline in the risk of cancer from exposure to air toxics. Read More
For many years, San Antonio’s air quality has been at a tipping point. With smog levels that just narrowly hovered beneath national limits for ozone pollution, the city is currently in competition for having some of the worst smog levels in Texas.
Ground-level ozone can cause asthma attacks and other illnesses—which means the state of San Antonio’s air quality is putting public health at risk. That’s about to change thanks to new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards that set stronger limits on ozone levels—pushing smog-challenged cities like San Antonio to take action and clean up the air. Read More
When the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized America’s Clean Power Plan in early August, it marked the first time our country has put a limit on emissions from the nation’s largest source of carbon pollution: power plants. The standards represent a huge step forward for cleaner air and all of the benefits that come along with it.
Texas leaders immediately denounced the final plan, boldly proclaiming it would have catastrophic consequences, and vowed to fight the Clean Power Plan.
But if state decision makers stop to look at the facts, they will see that the Clean Power Plan is well within our reach. In fact, Texas can get to 88 percent of the way toward compliance simply through current trends alone, as shown in our new report out today, Well Within Reach: How Texas Can Comply with and Benefit from the Clean Power Plan. And, not only is compliance achievable, the plan actually provides Texas the opportunity to use it to grow the state’s economy. Read More
EPA's revised ozone standard is an improvement, but it falls short of adequately protecting public health.
Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took a modest but important step forward in improving air quality by revising the standard for ground-level ozone or smog. EPA today finalized a standard of 70 parts per billion (ppb) — at the least protective end of the range recommended by the EPA’s independent scientific advisors and the nation’s leading health and medical societies.
Texans, and particularly those most vulnerable to air pollution such as children and the elderly, face challenges associated with harmful air quality and now is the time to come together as a state and implement solutions that will reduce this pollution. The Houston region has made strides in reducing emissions while continuing to grow and demonstrated that we have effective tools to improve air quality across Texas.