New carbon pollution limits huge step on climate, and great news for Texas

Media Contacts

Environment Texas

AUSTIN –Coal and gas burning power plants will pollute less and clean energy sources such as wind and solar will meet more of the state’s electricity needs, according to limits on carbon pollution finalized today that are central to President Obama’s plan to address climate change.
“Texans never shy from a challenge, and stopping global warming might be our greatest challenge yet, but with vast solar and wind energy resources at the ready, we can help lead the world to a cleaner, safer future,” said Luke Metzger, Director of Environment Texas. “Don’t believe the hype of Governor Abbott and the coal companies – the Clean Power Plan is great news for Texas.”     
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan sets state-by-state limits on heat-trapping emissions of carbon dioxide from power plants, the largest single source of such pollution in the country. Under the plan, each state determines how to meet its pollution cap, in Texas’ case a 33 percent cut in emissions.
Texas is well-positioned to meet its limits with increased development of clean energy, for which it has vast potential. Texas is already the nation’s biggest wind energy producer, with more than twice as much as any state. And with the price of solar power dropping dramatically, electric grid operator ERCOT predicts solar energy will grow almost 4,000 percent in the next 14 years. Environment Texas research shows thatsolar power could easily meet more than half of the Clean Power Plan targets, and the state could generate enough energy from wind to power 17.5 million homes by 2030, reducing as much carbon pollution as 36 coal plants dump each year.

Heat waves, extreme flooding, and devastating drought are just a few of the impacts of climate change Texans have already begun to experience. Torrential downpours and flooding, a result of the wettest May in Texas history, cost the lives of more than 20 Texans and made hundreds more homeless. Scientists predict that without drastic cuts in global warming emissions, these effects will become catastrophic.

The Clean Power Plan is also expected to bring public health benefits, since cutting power plant pollution also reduces soot, smog, and other harmful pollutants that are responsible for respiratory illness and even premature deaths. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the Clean Power Plan will save as many as 6,600 lives and prevent up to 150,000 asthma attacks each year. According to a 2014 study by scientists from Harvard, Syracuse, and Boston Universities on the health “co-benefits” of reducing carbon pollution, strong limits on carbon pollution, similar to those in the Clean Power Plan, would prevent 2300 deaths in Texas between 2020 and 2030.
“Today is an ozone action day in my community, San Antonio,” said Dr. Vincent Fonseca, former State Epidemiologist at the Department of State Health Services. “That means that the air is not safe to breathe for the elderly, children, and persons with asthma or other lung diseases.  Ozone and soot cause asthma attacks and heart attacks sending people to their graves, the hospital, or keeps them from enjoying life or going to school. This plan will reduce ozone and soot and make our air healthier for all Texans. A healthy Texas economy requires healthy Texans.”
“As doctors and nurses, we prefer to prevent disease, said Trish O’Day RN with Texas Physicians for Social Responsibility. We see the Clean Power Plan as a way to protect the health of Texas families right now. Reducing power plant pollution can decrease asthma attacks, cardiac disease and premature deaths.”
63 percent of Texans support setting “strict CO2 limits on existing coal-fired power plants,” according to a recent Yale University poll. More than 240,711 comments from Texans were among the 8 million submitted across the country in favor of the plan.