Clean Energy Is Cutting Carbon Pollution in Texas

Environment Texas Research and Policy Center

AUSTIN – As public concern about extreme weather ramps up, Texas is proving that we can win the fight against global warming. Clean energy policies, such as Texas’ renewable electricity standard, are significantly cutting emissions of carbon pollution – the leading cause of global warming – according to a new report by Environment Texas Research & Policy Center. The report, Moving America Forward, showed that Texas’ clean energy policies reduced carbon pollution by at least 18.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2012. That is comparable to the annual emissions from over 3.7 million cars.

“By using energy more efficiently, and by generating more power from clean, renewable sources, we are delivering a one-two punch in the fight against global warming,” said Rachel Stone, Clean Energy Attorney with Environment Texas Research and Policy Center. “We’ve proven that we have what it takes to protect our children and future generations from the worst impacts of climate change. We will need firm limits on carbon pollution in order to deliver a knockout blow.”

Scientists say extreme weather like Texas’ drought foreshadows what could be a new normal of weather extremes that could threaten our children and future generations if we fail to act on climate. Coal- and gas-fired power plants are America’s largest source of the carbon pollution fueling global warming.

Environment Texas pointed to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) plan to move forward with limits on carbon pollution from power plants as the next step to fight global warming and shift to clean energy. Right now EPA limits arsenic, lead, soot and other pollution from power plants – but not carbon pollution. Power plants are America’s largest source of the carbon pollution fueling global warming, accounting for about 40 percent of total emissions.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Renewable electricity standards have helped Texas develop enough renewable energy to offset as much carbon pollution as over 2.3 million cars produce in a year.
  • Energy efficiency policies have helped avoid as much carbon pollution as 650,000 cars produce in a year.
  • Clean cars programs have helped avoid 3.56 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in Texas.

 “This report thoughtfully recommends an increased deployment of clean energy technologies,” said Russ Keene, president of Plug-in Texas, a coalition promoting electric vehicles.  “Replacing older polluting vehicles with clean, efficient cars such as electric vehicles, is one such tool that can make a real impact in addressing our air quality goals.”

“Wind power in Texas is reducing pollution, creating jobs, and producing power right here in the state,” said Jenn Goodwillie of Pioneer Green Energy LLC. “Limits on carbon from power plants could help spur even more clean energy here in Texas.”

Stone pointed to opposition from power companies, the coal industry, and other big polluters as a roadblock to action. Already, groups from the American Petroleum Institute to the National Mining Association have launched campaigns to block or undermine federal carbon limits.

“With enough willpower, Texas can rise to any challenge. We’ve seen that climate solutions work – now it’s time for the next round, Stone concluded. “Our leaders can start by supporting the EPA’s plan to limit carbon pollution from power plants.”

Environment Texas is a statewide, citizen-funded environmental advocacy organization working for clean air, clean water, and open spaces.