The Clean Power Plan was signed into law by Executive Action in 2015, and while there has been much debate over it, it is expected to pass through Congress. Meanwhile, power plants and other industries across the country have reacted in anticipation to it. The Clean Power Plan requires states cut coal and carbon emissions and convert to natural gas and other renewable resources over the next 15 years while laying a foundation of general guidelines for implementation. Under the CPP, the state of Texas is required to cut CO2 emissions by 51 million metric tons annually, totaling some 870 million metric tons, by 2030, yet the means by which to reach these numbers are at the discretion of the state.
According to the Energy Information Administration, Texas is the fifth largest energy consumer (of all types), and while Texas leads the nation in wind energy, generating more than 14,000 MW annually, solar energy largely remains an underutilized resource with uncapped potential. Moreover, Texas is the second largest state in the county and the only state primarily operating within its own power grid, thus making it uniquely equipped to deliver the demands of such projects.
Low income communities, defined as vulnerable populations, have long been studied for their effects to climate change, as these populations have been identified as suffering the greatest impact from it. Environmental issues such as poor air quality and water pollution have been shown to cause a plethora of adverse health effects, including cancer, lung, eye and skin irritations, etc. Those most vulnerable have been identified as persons of color, who primarily reside in these communities, as well as pregnant women, children and the elderly. Socioeconomic issues such as a lack of healthcare (approximately 30% of the state) and income disparity compound these problems.
While it’s true that Texas leads the nation in wind energy, as the 5th largest consumer of electricity in the United States it still ranks highest in carbon production- nearly 680 million metric tons annually. The community benefits of providing renewable energy can be felt not only in the immediate vicinity of the project but across the city and state as well. Providing alternative, sustainable energy means lowering energy costs to those most affected by energy price fluctuations. It means creating new opportunities in career training and employment, thus contributing to the city’s and state’s economy as a whole. It also means offsetting carbon emissions, thereby contributing to less pollution and as a result, less adverse health concerns in vulnerable populations most affected by them while simultaneously working to meet Federal and State carbon mandates. Through responsible carbon trading, we assist our partners in achieving these goals, thus utilizing the natural resources readily available to us.