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-