News | June 2, 2014

Texas Environmental Leaders Applaud Landmark Climate Change Initiative

Federal carbon safeguards will drive investment in clean energy industries and jobs

Austin, TX /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ - The Obama administration today announced its landmark climate change initiative – the first-ever protection against carbon emissions from existing power plants. Carbon emissions, or greenhouse gases, cause climate change and are already costing Texans millions of dollars in damage from drought, wildfires and extreme heat. The new standards, which will reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030, will clean up power plants that generate most of Texas's carbon pollution. They will allow states to give power plants broad options for offsetting their emissions by investing in solar, wind and other renewable energy sources. In Texas, where climate change has already brought devastating drought and heat, leaders of environmental groups welcomed the safeguards, making the following comments.

"There is no state that suffers more from climate disruption than Texas. We have extreme drought, wildfires, and serious water shortages. There's also no state in a better position to cut carbon emissions. We already generate more wind power than any other state, and our reliance on all renewable energy sources has increased 140 percent in recent years. We need to take advantage of the new standards to reduce climate disruption and invest in the 21st century energy industries – solar and wind power, energy efficiency and energy storage.

Action on climate change now will save money in the future in lower electricity rates, health costs, food prices and disaster-related insurance. Texas's shift to renewables is already generating good, high-paying jobs. Together, they employ five times more people than the state's coal industry. If our state leaders handle these new carbon standards correctly, they can be a springboard for Texas into a new energy future." – Tom "Smitty" Smith, director, Public Citizen's Texas office.

"Texans understand how critical it is to cut carbon pollution and we've already gotten started. Houston has adopted one of the country's strongest energy efficiency standards for new buildings and is the nation's largest municipal purchaser of renewable energy. San Antonio is ranked sixth in the nation for installed solar energy and has bold goals to install more solar panels across the city. All told, efficiency and renewable energy policies reduced carbon pollution in Texas equivalent to taking 3.7 million cars off the road in 2012. That's a great start and we've got the right stuff to finish the job." – Luke Metzger, director, Environment Texas.

"It's time to have an honest conversation around the carbon pollution standards and the impact to Texas' power grid. As the nation's energy leader, Texas has the resources and the know-how to create a diverse energy portfolio that relies on wind, solar, natural gas, energy efficiency, and other clean technologies to save Texans money and grow the state's economy – without risking affordability or reliability. If state leaders take advantage of the standards' flexibility by integrating more energy efficiency and renewable energy into the power mix, we can overcome any local or regional challenges." – Kate Zerrenner, clean energy project manager, Environmental Defense Fund's Texas Office

"Recent polling by the League of Conservation Voters shows that a majority of voters recognize that climate change is a serious problem and support the EPA setting limits on carbon pollution. Especially for a state that has been hit hard in recent years by drought, wildfire, and hurricanes, Texas elected officials should listen to the voters and enact a commonsense plan for reducing carbon pollution and protecting current and future generations of Texans." – David Weinberg, executive director, Texas League of Conservation Voters.

"The physicians of Texas have been working for over a decade to get the state to control air and water pollution from the oldest legacy coal-fired power plants that increase hospitalizations and deaths from asthma, lung disease and heart attacks in our patients. Despite our best efforts, these antiquated coal plants continue to emit 40% of the air pollution in our state for relatively little energy production. The Texas Public Utility Commission tells us that if these old coal plants announced a phase-out today, renewables and natural gas would replace them rapidly with no threat to the energy grid. The new air pollution limits on CO2 emissions announced today by the EPA will significantly improve the health of Texans while helping to forestall climate disasters in the lifetimes of our children." -- Robert W. Haley, MD, medical epidemiologist, Dallas County Medical Society.

"Electric coops can benefit from a once-in-a-generation opportunity to repower their communities, and create new local industries and businesses. The EPA is proposing an option to allow offsets of carbon if the utility or coop invests in energy efficiency or renewable energy. Coops can create local jobs to harness renewable energy and benefit financially by selling excess electric power to the grid for use in urban areas." – Karen Hadden, executive director, Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition.

SOURCE: Public Citizen

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