Earlier this month Rick Perry denied the reality of climate change at a presidential debate. This week Governor “Good-Hair” has continued his crusade of fact fabrication and blamed the loss of 500 Texas jobs on the EPA and its new regulations (called the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule or CSAPR). This accusation came just after TXU/Luminant, the largest power generating company in Texas, announced it would be shutting down two of its coal units. While Luminant is taking a step in the right direction, this unethical tactic of blaming impending EPA regulations for job losses has become old hat for politicians like Perry and large fossil-fuel corporations like Luminant.
Accusations like this are nothing new. The fossil-fuel industry shrilly shouted the same kind of job-killing rhetoric over forty years ago when the Clean Air Act was passed. Instead of killing jobs, however, the Clean Air Act created them. Many studies have shown that the economic benefits, including job creation, of making polluters clean up their act far outweigh any negative impacts (such as layoffs at plants).
Unfortunately, it looks like President Obama has been drinking the same Industry-financed kool-aid as his main opponent. The President has announced that these crucial smog-reducing rules will be pushed back to 2013 (at the earliest). President Obama should be ashamed of his decision to delay these rules. He has, in effect, sacrificed human lives and the lungs of children because big-energy lobbyists have whined about it. The excessive pollution from Luminant’s three dirtiest coal plants is estimated to cause one premature death every three days. Whether Obama or Perry (as the likely candidate) wins the next presidential election, it looks like neither will stand up to corporate polluters for the sake of American lives. Visit Greenpeace online to sign a petition asking Obama to reverse this decision.
The EPA’s purpose is not to coddle fossil-fuel industries, nor to ensure their profit margins stay at ideal levels – it exists to protect human and environmental health. If companies in Texas like Luminant cannot conduct their business responsibly and acknowledge the pollution and harm they cause, then they must be held accountable by the public and our leaders.
Texans are paying the price for the cowardice of our politicians and the irresponsibility of these large energy corporations. These Luminant plants are some of the dirtiest coal plants in the country. Why should we have to pay higher medical bills and environmental clean up costs so that companies like Luminant can maximize profits?
This report from TR Rose Associates shows in detail how Luminant’s shuttering of these coal plants is most likely due to poor financial management. Considering that these plants are practically worthless for Luminant it makes sense for them to shut them down. This retirement has everything to do with the energy market and Luminant’s mismanagement of their resources and very little to do with any new EPA regulations.
Luminant should follow the example of the TVA, who announced back in April the closure of 18 coal plants. TVA further committed to retraining their workers for jobs in energy efficiency and renewable energy – both fields which are likely to employ more people than traditional fossil-fuels. Luminant could easily end this boondoggle and shut down all three of their large, old, dirty plants: Monticello, Martin Lake, and Big Brown. Texas has some of the best solar, wind and geothermal potential in the country. There is no reason, or excuse, for TXU to lay off any workers from any of these old plants, when the company could easily retrain them and invest in geothermal plants throughout that region. If these workers are abandoned it will be Luminant’s fault, not EPA’s.
These regulations should be seen as an opportunity for Texas to embrace renewable energy generation and to transition our power generation (and the relative jobs) to new facilities and programs that use this century’s technology, not last century’s. Luminant and Governor Perry should stop scapegoating the EPA and take responsibility for the health of the public and the future of energy generation in Texas. We Texans should do all we can to encourage and promote that kind of action.