Why Jeopardize Our Health for Dirty Energy Jobs when there are Clean Energy Jobs to be had?

It is frustrating that our local and federal governments are strained from taking action to ameliorate our air and water quality because once they try to do so, the other side recites loss in jobs as the result– but never do they mention any public health concerns and the effect that has on the economy.

When the White House imposed a moratorium on deep-offshore drilling, Obama received a lot of criticism because Gulf Coast-Region politicians said many would lose their jobs as result of the moratorium.

Currently, the Obama administration is looking into getting comprehensive energy legislation in Congress. Democrats are struggling to get a plan because they are afraid any bill will die in the senate because of jobs.

The EPA’s actions towards the TCEQ permit system angered many Texas politicians including the governor (who is fighting the EPA fiercely to get it off of his TCEQ’s collar) claimed that such actions will cost Texas a lot of jobs and the EPA should back off.

In Texas, we have been battling the Las Brisas Energy Center in Corpus Christi. The plant poses great hazards to both health and the environment. The plant proposes to use petroleum coke, slag leftover from oil refining, as their fuel. The plant had been hailed by the Chamber of  Commerce and some other local politicians because of the jobs the plant promises to create; however, the Citizens Advisory Health Board in Corpus Christi voted unanimously to appose the plant and it recommended the Commissioners Court to take the same position. The Las Brisas plant was given yet another chance by the TCEQ last months to provide more information about its emissions even though two administrative judged who reviewed the permit application found it out of compliance with the regulations. The TCEQ could have served the interest of Texans by denying the permit but it chose to go the other way.

It doesn’t make sense when we are told that it is okay to do something bad because it creates jobs. They never go into describing what those jobs really entail or to what people with such jobs are exposed. Supporters of dirty energy don’t address to the public the potential danger the energy industry poses on our health, our air, land, and water.

Would you start smoking Camels just because doing so will help employ more people in the cigarette-manufacturing business? Of coarse not, because you are better informed about the harm caused by cigarettes than about the health hazards posed by dirty energy.

Burning fossil fuels has been linked to asthma and other serious respiratory illness. When someone is sick or has to take a child to the hospital because of an asthma attack because we choose to get our energy from dirty energy sources that make people sick, that has an effect on the economy.

The old adage goes that your rights end at the end of my nose. If someone’s narrow economic interest (aka greed) results in millions of people getting sick, results in children not being able to get a good education because they can’t go to school, those jobs aren’t worth the cost. And especially when the wind boom has brought so many jobs to Texas (and solar and efficiency have the chance to do the same or more), we should be pursuing those ends and those jobs rather than ones who make the rest of us sick.

The true cost of dirty energy is not what you pay for your utility bill. The true cost is also our health and our environment.


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.