Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for August 4th, 2010

At a time when in much of the US we are facing the most significant heat waves in decades, global temperature averages have shown 2010 to be the hottest year ever in recorded history, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration / Climactic Data Center just released its most comprehensive report on climate change which may as well have been called “It’s Real and It’s Here: NOW!”, and droughts, heatwaves, and wildfires are causing Armageddon-like conditions around Moscow, causing even the global warming denying Russian government to capitulate to the scientific consensus…..  Even with all of that, it would seem like an odd time for the state of Texas to send a shot across the EPA’s bow, insulting them and goading them into a fight over Texas carbon emissions and the Clean Air Act.

But yet they have.

Monday August 2nd the state of Texas sent a letter to the EPA (original can be downloaded here) informing them that we would no longer be complying with the Clean Air Act, specifically provisions relating to the regulation of greenhouse gases.  This letter signed by Attorney General Greg Abbott and TCEQ Commissioner Bryan Shaw is full of bluster and short on reasoned legal arguments with any real merit.

Famous painting of Ukrainian Cossacks writing a triumphant and bawdy letter to the Turkish Sultan after the Cossacks defeated his army

What it really remind me of is one of my favorite paintings, Запорожцы пишут письмо турецкому султану or, Zaprozhe Cossacks Writing a Letter to the Turkish Sultan by Ilya Repin.  (For comparison’s sake, I would highly recommend following that link to read the text of the Cossack’s letter– it has language saltier than anything else I’ve heard this side of South Park)  I just can’t help think of the unabashed joy that must’ve coursed through the veins of the Atty General and TCEQ Commissioner as they drafted this, using phrases like (more…)

Read Full Post »

Public Citizen, Environmental Defense Fund Call for Independent State Agency to Coordinate State’s Energy Efficiency Efforts

AUSTIN – In response to the Public Utility Commission’s (PUC) planned adoption of new energy efficiency goals, Public Citizen and Environmental Defense Fund today called for sweeping changes to the way Texas runs its energy efficiency programs. The groups said that a single independent state agency would better serve Texas because it could coordinate programs currently regulated by multiple agencies and reduce agency overlap.

“We have no confidence in the Public Utility Commission process,” said David Power, deputy director of Public Citizen’s Texas office. “The time has come to change the way Texas saves energy because the current setup is ineffective. It is time for the Legislature to take control and create a new state agency that can put consumers first and save more money.”

The groups plan to send a letter to state Sen. Troy Fraser, chair of the Senate Natural Resources Committee, and state Reps. Jim Keffer and Burt Solomons, chairs of the House Energy Resources and State Affairs Committees, asking them to support legislation in the upcoming session to create an independent efficiency agency.

Under current law, the PUC, the agency in charge of regulating most of the state’s “poles and wires” companies, is supposed to review and approve the energy efficiency programs of the utilities. But other state agencies oversee efficiency programs too, including the Department of Housing and Community Affairs and State Energy Conservation Office. Housing the coordination of these efforts under one roof would help streamline state regulation and create more savings potential for Texans, the groups said.

“Several agencies either run or oversee similar programs,” said Kate Robertson, energy efficiency specialist with Environmental Defense Fund. “In some instances, like market outreach, a single state agency could coordinate the activities of all efficiency programs instead of multiple people doing the same thing for their own programs.”

The groups also criticized the PUC’s negative attitude toward energy efficiency. Over the past year and a half, agency staff had been developing plans to increase the state’s goal for energy efficiency. On Friday, however, the three commissioners appointed by Gov. Rick Perry slashed the proposal dramatically, ostensibly for cost reasons, reducing the efficiency goal from 1 percent of peak demand by 2014 to a third of the growth in demand by 2013 – a much smaller increase. The PUC even has proposed curtailing the amount utilities can spend on efficiency measures.

“It is baffling to us that the commission thinks energy efficiency is not worth the cost,” said Matthew Johnson, a policy analyst with Public Citizen’s Texas office. “Ratepayers’ utility bills pay primarily for fuel like natural gas and coal, power plants and the grid infrastructure. Energy efficiency costs around a dollar per month on a typical $100 electric bill and it pays for itself by reducing the need for new, costly power plants.” (more…)

Read Full Post »