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Panther Creek wind farm, Howard County, Texas. Image: Wikimedia Commons
by Amy Lupica, ODP Staff Writer
Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed his own executive order last Thursday in response to President Joe Biden’s executive orders on climate change aimed at transitioning the U.S. away from fossil fuel use and toward a clean energy economy, pause drilling on federal lands, and targeting federal fossil fuel subsidies.
Abbott claimed that Biden’s order “will be trying to take actions that will make it harder, more difficult and, more costly” for fossil fuel businesses in Texas, which continue to be major economic drivers in the region. Despite this, Texas has the opportunity to be a national leader in clean energy-production if the state would simply reach out and take it.
Why This Matters: Texas has always been a leader in energy production, and currently provides 20% of domestically produced energy in the U.S. The state has prioritized oil, natural gas, and coal investments, developing large swaths of land for oil derricks even as recently as 2018. But now, oil demand is at an all-time low, and experts say there isn’t a rebound on the horizon. And with Coronavirus devastating oil communities in West Texas, this moment in Texas history presents a crossroads: go all-in on oil and gas, or cash out and start building clean, sustainable energy.
Sustainability in Texas: Solar energy, meanwhile, has been facing a period of unprecedented growth in the state. The same flat, sun-soaked land where oil companies built hundreds of wells and oil derricks (and sometimes abandoned them) is prime real estate for solar farms. One such farm in Nolan County is a small town’s size and produces enough power to fuel 40,000 homes with its 709,000 panels. Additionally, Texas already leads the nation in wind-generated energy, which overtook coal in proportion to Texas energy for the first time this year.
Many critics see the retaliatory order as an overreaction, and Abbott himself admitted that “either zero or close to zero” drilling is done on public lands, and nearly all drilling will be unaffected by Biden’s directive. Although a few Democratic state congressional members have sided with Abbott, the Texas Democratic Party is critical. Party spokesperson Abhi Rahman said that Abbott is not “being honest with working Texans,” and that, “to save Texas energy, we need to demand new leadership in this state that is honest, upfront with Texans, and embraces the future.”
by Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer The world desperately needs more sources of emissions-free energy, yet as these power sources are brought online, we must also contend with their impact on animals and ecosystems. In California, government officials are trying to rescue California condors, which are critically endangered, from being killed by the blades of […]
In the wake of one of the largest power losses in United States history, the conversation about green energy in Texas is back in the headlines. Emily Holden and two other investigative reporters collaborated on a story that ran in The Guardian, The Texas Observer, and San Antonio Report exposing how the Texas Gas Service was successful in significantly watering down a plan by the city of Austin to reduce the use of natural gas there in the future.
Why This Matters: The oil industry has spent billions to manipulate the national conversation around green energy.
By Lew Milford With its recent executive orders on environmental justice, the Biden administration has put energy equity at the front and center of its domestic policy agenda. The challenge now is to put these principles into practice. That job has been made much more critical with the massive power outage that just crippled Texas. […]
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