The Coal Burning

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					 WWW.CHRON.COM                                  SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2006                                                           $1.50

The Coal Burning Question
BY JIM MARSTON                                    New Mexico’s governor has pledged to          treme weather—longer, deeper droughts
                                               reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 10%           broken by torrential rains like those that
   California Governor Arnold Schwar-          over the next six years and has joined a         hit the Houston area and El Paso this
zenegger made national headlines last          market in which local governments can            summer.
week, and it was no movie stunt or             trade credits earned by cutting emissions.          Our leaders need to take every step nec-
doomsday film release: He announced a          Washington State has new carbon dioxide          essary to protect our economy while work-
deal with the California legislature that      standards for fossil fuel plants. Some           ing to clear the air. All of Perry's oppo-
will reduce that state’s emissions of carbon   states like North Carolina are approaching       nents in this November’s election say they
dioxide, the most significant greenhouse       the problem with economic opportunity            realize the consequences of the proposed
gas. That's the good news.                     in mind, focusing on increasing their en-        new power plants. They all say they’d halt
   The bad news is that here in Texas, our     ergy independence by developing alterna-         the fast-tracked power plant bonanza and
governor just doesn't seem to get it, and      tive energy sources and incentives for en-       develop a clean air plan first.
the rest of the world is quickly passing       ergy conservation. Seven Northeast states           Perry has the power to do something
him and the state of Texas by.                 have a regional plan in the works.               right now.
   Impressive efforts by neighboring states       California's new law will be the most            He should slow the power plant process
and other nations are reducing carbon          significant among the states, partly be-         down. He should rely on new technology
dioxide, but Governor Rick Perry is tak-       cause of the size of the emission cuts, and      to capture carbon dioxide from power
ing Texas in the opposite direction. TXU       partly because other states have a tendency      plants before it’s released into the air. He
– Texas' largest single emitter of carbon      to adopt environmental policy invented           should also advise his appointed TCEQ
dioxide – wants to build 11 more coal-         there. All told, nearly 30 states have           commissioners to review all available con-
fired power plants that would more than        taken some kind of action to reduce car-         trol technology before issuing permits to
double the company's emissions. And            bon dioxide emissions, and more are ex-          build more dirty, coal-fired plants in
Gov. Perry is fast-tracking the approval       pected to follow California's historic new       Texas. And he should commission a task
process.                                       law.                                             force to develop a balanced, expert as-
   Texas already ranks number one among           So with each passing month, Texas and         sessment of the global warming challenges
the states in carbon dioxide pollution. We     the governor seem to be more alone in            ahead.
even spew more carbon dioxide than most        their support for increased carbon dioxide          As the nation’s leading global warming
countries, including the U.K., Canada and      emissions.                                       polluter, Texas has a moral responsibility
Italy.                                            “Texas Against the World” might               to show leadership in reducing our carbon
   To date, our state leaders have not         sound like a terrific action thriller, but the   footprint. Time is not on our side, though,
adopted any plans to reduce carbon diox-       issue is serious business. Having no global      and these decisions must happen now,
ide emissions in Texas, despite the fact       warming action plan puts our economy             before more dirty coal permits are ap-
that mayors from some our state’s largest      and our health at risk. Along our Gulf           proved and before Texas is left completely
cities are calling for such action. Instead,   Coast alone, global warming could cost           in the cold. Or, more appropriately, the
Perry stood alongside one our nation’s         Texas billions of dollars annually from          heat.
biggest polluters, TXU, to show his sup-       more-frequent Category 4 and 5 hurri-
port of that company’s plans to build 11 of    canes like last year’s Rita, from serious        Jim Marston is regional director of
the proposed coal-fired plants that will       disruption of our Gulf fisheries, and even-      Environmental Defense.
spew an additional 78 million tons of          tually from rising sea levels. Texas’ insur-
global warming pollution into the air. Can     ance rates will rise and the threat of in-
it be that he doesn’t fully understand the     creased pest and vector borne illness will
air quality and climate realities that so      continue to grow as the climate gets
many others are already acting upon?           warmer. Scientists also predict more ex-

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