This editorial from the Dallas Morning News is a little bit old news, responding to Governor Perry’s lawsuit against the EPA’s endangerment finding about carbon dioxide, BUT I really like the message that clean air vs. jobs is a false choice. Because everything we would have to do to create a new clean economy, is a JOB. Windmills don’t manufacture themselves, solar panels aren’t going to get up on the roof unless someone bolts them there, and weatherstripping isn’t going to take it off without an audience protect your house from air conditioning leaks unless someone gets in there and give you an energy audit. So, better late than never: read on!
Sure, it buttresses his campaign theme, casting him as the protector of Texas jobs against employment-crippling federal environmental mandates. And Perry is right when he says Texas has a lot a stake.
But his approach is troublingly shortsighted. The lawsuit relies on thinking about the state’s past, not its future, and it falsely pits jobs against clean air. Instead of opposing the tougher air quality rules, Austin would be wise to focus instead on how best to be a leader in a less carbon-dependent economy.
Our state emits up to 35 percent of all greenhouse gases released by industrial sources in the United States, and the state’s energy sector remains a prominent generator of jobs. So it’s vital that Texas work on two tracks simultaneously – clean air and clean jobs.
Efforts to buck the shift won’t save jobs, but rather will tether Texas to 20th-century jobs in the 21st century and, thus, have considerable negative consequences on the state’s long-term economic health. Dirty air endangers health and also kills jobs, as California learned the hard way.
Texas’ legal gymnastics also are odd because the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases has already been decided. The Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that the EPA has authority to regulate greenhouse gases in auto emissions and noted that the agency must not avoid regulating those emissions, as the Bush administration had done, unless it showed a scientific reason for refusing to act.
In December, the EPA moved a step closer to making new rules to restrict these emissions when it issued a finding that manmade greenhouse gases constitute a danger to health and the environment.
We don’t dispute Perry’s contention that the new greenhouse gases will impact the state’s coal-fired power plants as well as farmers and ranchers who use fossil fuels to cultivate their land and fertilize their crops. But is it not better to prepare for the future than to pretend that it will not arrive? And is it not better to take the right steps as a state to make sure new jobs are created?
In many ways, this state is less dependent on the oil and gas sector than it was 20 years, and that’s a good thing. Diversification into telecommunications and technology industries, for example, helped Texas survive past economic setbacks.
Likewise, new shifts toward a cleaner economy ultimately will create sustainable new century jobs if we don’t deny the future.
By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.