Texas Clean Air Matters

ERCOT Report Confirms Texas Well-Positioned to Comply with Clean Power Plan, but Press Release Misleads

power-plant-pixabayIn 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 »

Also posted in Air Pollution, Clean Air Act, Energy Efficiency / Read 2 Responses

It’s Time to Change the Conversation about the Clean Power Plan in Texas.

texas capWhen 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 »

Also posted in Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, Solar, Wind / Tagged | Read 5 Responses

Why Should Moms (and Dads) Care about Climate Change?

My daughter on a hike in the Texas Hill Country.

My daughter on a hike in the Texas Hill Country.

I am a mom. It’s not the only descriptor I use for myself, but it’s up there at the top. My daughter is three years old. She loves to play outside and hug trees and chase birds and go fishing with her daddy.

I am also a clean energy and climate advocate. My weekdays consist of trying to convince Texas policymakers to take action on climate change, and I sometimes think negotiating with statewide officials is harder than negotiating with a “threenager.”

As parents, our daily lives consist of a million things we have to do to keep the kids fed, dressed, and out of harm’s way. Can’t someone else worry about climate change? The problem with that perspective is, although moms and dads may differ politically, our desire to see our kids grow up happy and healthy is universal. But if enough of us make small changes in our lives and raise our voices on climate and clean energy issues, those actions can add up to a big solution.

Climate change and life as we know it

When a problem seems overwhelming, as climate change often does, it’s helpful to break it down into relatable pieces. Let’s think about how climate change affects our everyday activities with our children. Read More »

Also posted in Air Pollution, Clean Air Act, Climate Change, Ozone / Read 3 Responses

Three Ways Texas’ Latino Communities can Fight Climate Change and Protect Health

Para leer este artículo en español, haga clic aquí.

Daily Ozone Air Quality Index in Texas for August 28, 2015 via AIRNow. Orange indicates that air quality was unhealthy for sensitive groups.

Daily Ozone Air Quality Index in Texas for August 28, 2015 via AIRNow. Orange indicates that air quality was unhealthy for sensitive groups.

Growing up in the heat of South Texas, praying for rain was a daily ritual. Droughts are common there, and climate change is making them more intense and thus more devastating. Yet Texans are surrounded by inaccurate political messages that cast doubt on evidence that humans are causing climate change. This kind of rhetoric is physically and economically harmful, especially to the 40 percent of Texans who are Hispanic or Latino, because these populations are disproportionately impacted by climate change.

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has partnered with League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) to raise awareness and action on environmental issues that impact our health. LULAC is the largest and oldest nationwide Hispanic civil rights organization in the U.S.  Recently, I had the honor of speaking with the Greater Houston LULAC Council at their monthly breakfast about how climate change impacts Latinos in Texas. Juan Parras, Founder and Director of Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (TEJAS), joined me at the event and drove the point home by discussing how climate change and industrial pollution is affecting Latinos in Houston. Together, we sought to inform our audience of the role they can play to stop damaging rhetoric and get involved to support climate change solutions and public health protections. Read More »

Also posted in Air Pollution, Methane, Natural gas, Ozone / Tagged | Comments are closed

Texas Grid Survives Heat, but Could Use More Energy Efficiency and Demand Response

By: John Hall, Texas State Director, Clean Energy, and Sarah Ryan, Clean Energy Consultant

hot bucket of water morgue free fileThis month Texans have been at the mercy of some extreme, shoe-melting heat. Yet, despite the heat wave and resulting high demand in electricity, the state’s main grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), has barely broken a sweat. Demand even passed the previous record-high mark twice in one afternoon, but ERCOT has not called for a single system emergency.

How is ERCOT able to handle this massive stress on the grid, even as Texas’ population continues to rise at an impressive rate? Although some new generation has come online to meet increased electricity needs in the state, two key resources are working “behind the grid” to lower demand. Energy efficiency and demand response, a way to incentivize people to conserve energy when the electric grid is stressed, are both essential tools in preventing blackouts during the hottest months of the year, while maintaining Texas’ commitment to a clean energy future.

The good news is, Texas has significant potential to grow these resources, and two utilities are already showing how the state can better harness both energy efficiency and demand response. Read More »

Also posted in Demand Response, Energy Efficiency / Comments are closed

Hartnett White and Pals Twist Science for Sake of Fossil Fuel Interests

power-plant-pixabayEarlier this year, I wrote about how Kathleen Hartnett White, director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, was confused about the basic science related to carbon dioxide (CO2) and just how much of it is good for us. She mistakenly asserted the more CO2 the better, while nearly all climate scientists agree high CO2 emissions are wreaking havoc on our planet. Time and again science indicates we are looking at irreversible, catastrophic effects if we don’t do something about it.

Apparently Hartnett White hasn’t gone back to class – she’s at it again and she’s brought her friends. We recently saw the launch of the CO2 Coalition, a new group aiming to paint CO2 as a nutrient rather than a pollutant, of which she is a member. The real purpose of the coalition is to debunk Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, the nation’s first-ever limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants, using “science based facts” (as opposed to emotion-based?).

Similar to the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Hartnett-White’s other fossil fuel-funded alliance, the CO2 Coalition is just another front-group pretending to use science in order to protect their corporate interests. Read More »

Also posted in Climate Change, Coal, TPPF / Comments are closed