The New York Times recently came out with an article that I could not ignore. It looked at how Attorneys General across the country have been supported by campaign donations from a “secretive energy alliance” that includes some of the nation’s top fossil fuel power companies. Texas Attorney General and Governor-elect Greg Abbott received the most—a whopping $2.5 million, compared to the $577,000 for the next largest beneficiary of the polluters’ largess.
Abbott has been quoted as saying, “What I really do for fun is I go into the office, [and] I sue the Obama administration.” True to his word, Abbott has sued the federal government 30 times (27 since Obama took office), including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) eight times, spending at least $2.58 million of taxpayers' money and more than 14,113 in state employee staff hours in the process—all with little success. But, of course, those $2.5 million in campaign funds had no effect on his actions. He's doing it for fun. Read More
Source: Armin Kübelbeck, Wikimedia Commons
Well, it didn’t take long before the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) released, at the request of Texas’ very political Public Utilities Commission, another report about the impacts of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) rules designed to protect public health.
This time ERCOT, which manages 90 percent of Texas’ electric grid, looked at the impact of seven EPA clean air safeguards on the electric grid, including the Cross State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), the Mercury Air Toxics Standard (MATS), the Regional Haze program (all of which go back before the Obama administration), the proposed Clean Power Plan, which would set the first-ever national limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants, and others. What was surprising to learn, though, is that after power companies in the state start complying with EPA’s other clean air protections, the proposed Clean Power Plan poses a minimal incremental impact to the power grid. We would only have to cut 200 megawatts of coal-fired generation, which equates to less than one coal-fired power plant. Read More
The Brazos Wind Farm, also known as the Green Mountain Energy Wind Farm, near Fluvanna, Texas. Source: Wikipedia
At one point, not too many years ago, Environmental Defense Fund’s Austin office boasted just four employees total. In those days, I used to joke that if we ever reached 10, we’d be really big.
Well, this October, the Austin office surpassed 50 people, now making it the fourth largest EDF office.
It hit me one morning this summer when I walked into a staff meeting and realized I needed to introduce myself.
We’ve come a long way and I feel very proud to be a part of a team that’s not only talented and successful, but also increasingly diverse; the team is starting to look a lot more like America. We're better staffed to handle environmental challenges and opportunities than at any point in our history.
The growth of the Clean Energy staff – of which 12 are housed in Austin – mirrors the explosion in solar and wind power in Texas and across the United States. Read More
By: Jason Mathers, Senior Manager, Supply Chain Logistics
Many leading companies are creating business value today by cutting carbon emissions from freight moves. These companies, such as Walmart, Ikea, Unilever, and Ocean Spray, are following a similar path, one we at EDF are calling the Green Freight Journey, a five-step framework for freight optimization projects.
As an important freight hub, Texas stands to gain tremendously from green freight strategies. Trucks in Texas move roughly 1.2 billion tons of freight every year and nearly 90 percent of all rail containers entering the U.S. from Mexico move via Texas. This high volume of freight activity is expected to rise even higher as Texas officials project that the population in 35 counties, including all of the major metro areas, will grow by more than 50 percent by 2040. Texas’ status as a national freight leader means that the Lone Star State is poised to lead the way toward green freight strategies that will cut costs and reduce emissions. Read More
Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unveiled a proposal to update our national air quality standards for ground-level ozone, more commonly known as smog, from the current 75 parts per billion level to 65 to 70 parts per billion. Smog is a dangerous air pollutant linked to asthma attacks and other serious heart and lung diseases. That’s why EPA is also seeking comments on establishing a health standard of 60 parts per billion, a level that would provide the strongest public health protections for Americans according to scientific record. But despite the overwhelming scientific evidence of the health benefits of a more protective ozone standard, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), publicly opposes it.
Sixty to 70 parts per billion is the health-based range recommended by the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, an independent panel of the nation’s leading scientists. The panel of scientists formed its recommendation based on an examination of bedrock scientific evidence and the requirement under the law to protect those most vulnerable.
In deconstructing TCEQ’s position on ozone, one can focus on a few key elements that stray from the mainstay of accepted public health principles:
The holidays are upon us. As we prepare to gather with our friends and family, eat too much, and lounge around watching football, many people use this time to reflect on what they are grateful for. Being able to pay one’s electricity bill probably doesn’t make most people’s list, but for many Americans, it might.
The average household spends $1,945 annually on electricity, and homes with the lowest 20 percent of income spent nearly six percent of their income on energy bills. For many households, the cost of energy remains unaffordable. To put it in perspective, compared to middle- or upper-class homes, low-income households spend about twice the percentage of their income on energy. Yet, as Greentech Media points out, “many [energy management] solutions are tailored to the biggest homes, those awash in thousands of square feet of central air with a pool pump. Other solutions are tailored for middle-class homes, such as aggressive rebates for more efficient appliances. Many apartment-dwellers, however, do not own their major appliances."
The future of smart home, energy-saving technologies is often more focused on affluent, early-adopters who benefit from innovative ways to save energy because they can afford the newest gadgets. Thankfully, these people are using their buying power to lead the way, as more demand will bring prices down for everyone. While it is important for all of us to conserve and better manage energy use, low-income individuals have the most to gain. Yet the technologies that can enable savings are often out of financial reach. Read More