Texas Leaders Defy All Logic, Side with Sen. McConnell on “Just Say No” to EPA Campaign

pinwheel-pixabayGovernor Greg Abbott and Texas Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz recently met in a meeting with Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell to discuss how they could sabotage the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed (CPP). The CPP would place the nation’s first-ever limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants – the rules for which are expected to be finalized this summer.

The reason for the meeting is simple: Sen. McConnell is currently touting a “just say no” approach to EPA’s regulations, advocating states refuse to create a compliance plan, which is clearly to protect his coal-producing state. He also supports legislation to let states opt-out of the pollution reduction program. After the closed-door meeting, Governor Abbott announced he is siding with the Senator from Kentucky on the CPP.

What the press release didn’t say: By aligning himself with Sen. McConnell, Governor Abbott is hurting Texas.

Texas should “just say no” to McConnell

One of the main goals of the CPP is to lessen air pollution from carbon emissions, which is beneficial to everyone’s health and could save thousands of lives. In order to achieve these benefits, the nation’s electricity generation mix will have to change, and there is a general consensus about what those changes will involve.

1. The CPP will accelerate the shift of generation from coal to natural gas plants.

Kentucky is a coal state, so it is easy to understand why McConnell doesn’t like the regulations. But Texas is a natural gas state, and an increased use of natural gas is one of the four main CPP . In fact, according to a CPP analysis by the Center for Strategic for International Studies, the West South Central region of the country (which includes Texas) stands to gain anywhere from $4-18 billion a year in annual revenue from natural gas production. Plus, Texas would be using more energy from right here in our own state, rather than relying on coal from other states. Why would Abbott oppose a program to help this important piece of Texas’ economy?

2. The CPP will increase the amount of solar and wind generation.

Okay, Kentucky doesn’t have a lot of renewable resources. But Texas is already the number one wind energy producer in the country and we are well-positioned to continue leading in that area. There is even the potential to export our wind-generated electricity to other parts of the country. We also have the greatest solar energy potential of any state: according to the State Energy Conservation Office, “Texas has a virtually unlimited solar energy supply.” Why would Governor Abbott be against a plan that will help Texas wind and solar, in addition to Texas ranchers, who get paid to host wind farms and solar arrays on their land?

3. The CPP will encourage existing and new coal plants to sequester carbon pollution in old underground oil and gas fields.

Kentucky doesn’t have the necessary geology to use carbon pollution sequestration, but Texas does. And through this technology, Texas operators will be able to retrieve oil and gas from fields that were thought to have been played out. Why would Governor Abbott side with Kentucky instead of supporting an initiative that will also help oil and gas production in Texas?

It is hard to understand someone else’s motivations. But when trying to determine why Governor Abbott is so opposed to the CPP, you could conclude he has a political response to any initiative the Obama Administration proposes. It reminds me of a dog chasing cats – the dogs just can’t help themselves, even when the chase runs them into sticker bushes and physical injuries. Unfortunately, Governor Abbott’s irrational actions will cause more than a few scratches.

This post originally appeared on our Texas Clean Air Matters blog.

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