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
Maryland Ports Authority was awarded almost $900,000 from the Environmental Protection Agency to replace 25 drayage trucks at the Port of Baltimore.
Funding to incentivize the replacement of older equipment and vehicles is one of the best tools that we have in the clean air toolbox for reducing dangerous diesel emissions from heavy-duty trucks and equipment. Whether through national programs like the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) or Texas’ own Texas Emission Reduction Plan, there are funding sources available to help ports and other goods movement facilities replace older, high-polluting engines with newer, cleaner ones.
Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has been a strong advocate of these programs, and a committed partner to ports to assist in the development of clean air projects. For example, earlier this year EDF helped two projects at the Port of Houston secure nearly two million dollars of DERA funds to replace 39 trucks diesel trucks operating at the port. Read More
From energy efficiency progress to cities embracing renewables, we've already noted how Texas had a big year when it comes to clean energy. And regular readers of this blog will know how excited we are about the potential of the Clean Power Plan – America's first-ever limits on carbon pollution from power plants – to propel the Lone Star State to the forefront of the clean energy economy. But the progress we saw in 2015 didn't happen overnight, so we've created the below infographic to help explain Texas' momentum over the years.
Happy New Year!
-The EDF Texas Clean Air Matters team
TCEQ can pay for the replacement of dirty diesel equipment with cleaner equivalent machines.
Have you ever heard of “TERPing”? (Hint: it has nothing to do with pop music singers.)
In Texas, it’s shorthand for when the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) pays owners of dirty diesel equipment to reduce emissions by purchasing cleaner equivalent machines. The program, called the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (the “TERP” in “TERPing”), is a voluntary incentive program focused on improving air quality in the metropolitan areas of the state that have issues with meeting federal clean air requirements for ozone.
Since the TCEQ is accepting applications now, consider “TERPing” your older truck or equipment to apply for some of the $20 million* currently available. It’s a win-win program for all involved that we’ve written about before: Texas gets cleaner air and makes progress on its commitment to meet health-based ozone standards, and owners of heavy-duty equipment get new, cleaner machines.
By: Charlene Heydinger, Executive Director, Keeping PACE in Texas
As 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
Texas Southern University Students Jenice Young, Joy Semien and Steven Washington Attended COP21 in Paris
The Texas Clean Air Matters team is thrilled to share that the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Climate Change Consortium sent 50 student leaders from around the United States to the U.N. COP21 climate summit in Paris, three of whom are Texas Southern University students awarded with the Mickey Leland Scholarship. These students represent future environmentalists, who could have a large impact on the future of Texas in terms of solving the climate crisis. This delegation of students was able to witness the construction of the agreement and had a chance to see countries reach a historic agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and stabilizing global temperatures. You can read more about them in this guest post by Dr. Robert Bullard, one of the foremost experts on environmental justice in the world.
EDF is excited these students had such an amazing opportunity and to witness first hand climate diplomacy in action. Read More