Clean Air, Cool Energy Campaign

July 26, 2006

Clean Air, Cool Energy Campaign

As the Climate Cooks Texas, Citizens Ask the Candidates For Governor: What’s Your Plan to Cool Texas?

AUSTIN, TEXAS – With a map of Texas in the foreground showing the impact of global warming on various regions of the state, citizens from across Texas held a press conference at the Capitol to ask the candidates for Texas governor what they plan to do to reduce global warming.

“Hot enough for you? Just wait,” said Molly Rooke, corporate accountability chair with the Dallas Sierra Club. “Most scientists predict that summer temperatures in Texas will be between 3 and 11 degrees warmer by the end of this century, and the heat index might rise by as much as 25 degrees. While governors in 14 states, along with state agencies in an additional 14 states, have begun to take action to reduce global warming gases, Texas has not. We call on Governor Rick Perry and the other candidates to tell us what they plan to do to Cool Texas. No state will suffer more from global warming than Texas; no state emits more global warming gases than Texas, and yet, no state more than Texas would create more jobs from the solutions, like harnessing our vast supplies of renewable energy.”

“Last fall, Gov. Perry declared that Texas was a tinderbox and drought-driven wildfires caused billions of dollars of damage. We are on the way to another record-breaking hot year, and the last five years have been among the hottest on record. Scientists predict Texas will see more killer heat waves, droughts, wildfires and changes in our seasons,” said Tom “Smitty” Smith, director of Public Citizen’s Texas office. “While other governors have taken action, Gov. Perry has been adding fuel to the fire.”

Smith pointed out that Perry has fast-tracked the permitting of new coal plants without requiring any controls for global warming gases. The new plants will add more than 115 million tons of carbon dioxide per year. Alternatives exist that can meet Texans’ needs for power with less pollution, such as energy efficiency, combined heating and power, renewable energy and coal gasification.

“I have been ranching in the Waco area for over 45 years and can tell you global warming is real,” said Lewis Pulley, a Riesel Texas rancher and a member of T-Power. “Springs come earlier, falls come later, freezes don’t kill as many pests like the boll weevils as they used to. If these new plants are built, they will make the problem far more severe.” 

Some candidates for governor are questioning the rationale for fast-tracking the plants when Texas metropolitan areas are struggling to attain federal air quality standards.

“Global warming will have serious health consequences for Texans,” said Dr Lisa Doggett, a family physician and director of Austin Physicians for Social Responsibility. “Higher temperatures are likely to mean more ozone action days and asthma attacks, more pollen and allergies, more mosquitoes and other bugs that can cause disease, and more contamination of our drinking water. Heat-related deaths and damage to food supplies are also likely to result.”

“The Houston area will suffer from rising seas,” said Louis Smith, president of the Houston Climate Coalition. “As the temperature of the ocean rises, hurricanes are expected to become more severe. Recently, the US Department of Transportation predicted that three-quarters of the industry along the Houston shipping channel could be inundated during hurricane driven storm surges.”

Louis Smith said, “We, the Clean Air, Cool Energy Coalition, call on Governor Perry and the candidates to disclose, no later than August 15th, their plans to cool Texas. Over 1,000 citizens have written the governor and his opponents asking for a plan to cool Texas, just as governors in other states have done.”

For example, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed an executive order requiring the state to cut global warming emissions through the use of solar energy, energy efficiency measures and reductions in global warming emissions from cars and trucks. New York Gov. George Pataki has issued an executive order requiring state agencies to cut global warming emissions through utilizing energy efficiency and renewable energy.

A total of 5 Republican governors, along with 2 Democratic governors, have adopted specific goals and pledged to reduce global warming gas emissions by 80-85 percent, while Texas plans to increase emissions from power plants by 42 percent.

Other governors have required power plants to cut their global warming emissions and required manufacturers to build new cars and trucks that emit fewer global warming gases.

“If these states take action and shift to cooler ways for powering their future,” said Smith, “the Texas economy and its citizens will be left smoldering.”  

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