Monthly Archives: April 2009

The Truth Comes Out

Senator Kirk Watson’s “No Regrets Bill,” which calls on the TCEQ to develop standards to cut greenhouse gas emissions, is making some headway in the legislature. If passed, the bill would help stimulate our economy and position Texas as a leader in greenhouse gas reduction. It’s great to see bills that represent how far we’ve come in our fight against global warming, but after reading last week’s New York Times, it’s apparent we’ve got a long way to go.

The article “Industry Ignored Its Scientists on Climate” was disturbing to say the least. Based on documents filed in a recent federal lawsuit, it gave an in-depth look at what we knew all along: Global warming is real and humans contribute to it.

However, something we didn’t know was that in 1995 the Global Climate Coalition ignored its trade industry scientists who had agreed that global warming was a problem and that the role of human contribution could not be denied. For more than a decade, the coalition led a campaign to persuade the public that greenhouse gases were not a problem. Something else we didn’t know: The coalition was (yup, you guessed it) financially funded by large corporations and groups representing the oil, coal and auto industries. But why would any group ignore its own qualified scientists on such a crucial issue?

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Posted in Climate, Texas / Read 9 Responses

Bringing Green Jobs to Texas: Solar Style

Yesterday, the Texas Senate began taking decisive action to bring green jobs and green energy to Texas. It started on the floor of the Senate, where members voted for Senator Troy Fraser’s SB 545, a solar incentive program that could bring 250 – 500 MW of solar generation to the state. This bill will bring some green jobs to Texas in the form of solar installers, but may not attract enough attention to bring jobs from the growing U.S. solar manufacturing industry to Texas. With so many other states trying to stake their claim to the solar industry, SB 545 cannot work alone in changing the face of solar in the Lone Star State.

Fortunately, late yesterday the Senate Business & Commerce Committee approved Senator Watson’s SB 541 – an expansion of Texas’ successful Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) – which will develop 3,000 megawatts of solar, biomass and geothermal in the state. The RPS uses a sort of economic judo to turn Texas’ great existing energy market into an advantage for renewable energy while reducing energy prices at the same time, according to the PUC. If we can duplicate the success of our original RPS, SB541 could bring more than 7,000 MW of solar to the state and continue saving Texans money in the face of ever-rising fossil fuel costs.

Together, these bills provide a one-two punch, showing that Texas seems ready: to fight its way back to renewable energy leadership; to bring those vital green jobs to the state; and to position our state as a national renewable energy leader.

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Posted in Jobs, Renewable Energy, Texas / Read 34 Responses

Keeping Our Heads in the Sand

The more things change the more they stay the same in the Texas Senate. While many Senators said they had epiphanies on global warming as a result of briefings from scientists in the UK and Texas A&M, the Senate continues to cave-in to the worst part of the business community when the rubber meets the road. The latest disappointment is the failure of SB988, which merely asks agencies to begin planning for the impacts of global warming such as droughts and hotter summers.

No one had to accept the scientific consensus that humans are in large part to blame for global warming. The bill would have merely required contingent planning for impacts we are already seeing (note this month’s large wildfires). Many other states are doing this rational planning. Senator Fraser, Seliger, Hegar, Jackson, Estes, and Deuell voted to keep this state’s head in the sand. Kudos to Senators Averitt, Eltife, Uresti, and Hinojosa.

Posted in Climate, Texas / Read 58 Responses

Energy Efficiency Bills are Moving Fast

This morning EDF partnered with other environmental groups in a press conference with members of the Texas House of Representatives who are sponsoring energy efficiency legislation this Session. 

Representative Rafael Anchia from Dallas and Representative Mark Strama from Austin spoke on the need for passing increased efficiency measures and building a network of green jobs. See the video below.

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Representative Anchia is the author of several major efficiency bills this Session, which EDF supports and are critical for lowering our utility bills, increasing the reliability of our electric grid, improving our air quality, and reducing our dependence on foreign oil. 

These bills include:

  • HB 280, which sets an energy efficiency goal for utilities of 2 percent of peak demand by 2020.
  • HB 2210, which establishes efficiency standards for major appliances, including pool pumps, bottle-type water dispensers and portable hot tubs; and
  • HB 2783, which updates statewide building codes to the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code

According to Rep. Strama’s statement at today’s press conference, the Energy Resources Committee, on which he sits, plans to pass these bills out of committee this week, or next week at the latest.  The next step after that is the House floor.

Stay tuned for further developments on these bills and others coming out of the Legislature.  For further information on the topics, please visit The Alliance for a Clean Texas, of which EDF is a member. 

Posted in Energy Efficiency, Texas / Read 3 Responses

Understanding the water and energy relationship

Most people who watch the news are aware that we have both energy and water problems in Texas.  What a lot of people may not realize is that these two issues are related and affect the water we use every day and the energy we bring into our homes. 

In order to better understand this relationship, I helped author a new report with the University of Texas Jackson School called Energy-Water Nexus in Texas that was released today. Check out the video below which gives a quick summary of the report’s findings.

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The truth is that energy and water are related in just about every way you can imagine.  The water supply sector utilizes large amounts of energy to transport, treat, and deliver water.  On the flip side, vast quantities of water are required to generate power.

As Texas continues to grow and pressure increases on our water and energy resources, the linkages between water and energy become more important.  The cycle goes like this: A growing community needs more power, which requires more water, which uses more power, and so on.

Understanding this relationship highlights the importance of conserving water and practicing energy efficiency.  For every kilowatt saved, water is also saved.  For every gallon of water not used, energy demand is reduced. Investments in and incentives for energy and water conservation must be our highest priority.

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Posted in General, Texas / Read 44 Responses