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Texas: A Global Green Paragon


Yes, you’re reading that graph right. Texas—oil hungry, SUV-driving, fracking-friendly Texas—reduced its carbon emissions more than the usual green suspects of California, Germany, and Europe. The Energy Information Administration released a report yesterday full of emissions data for the fifty states over the first decade of this century. The state with the biggest absolute emissions reductions: Texas.

Not only are total and per capita emissions down deep in the heart of Texas, but its economy is producing more dollars per unit of carbon dioxide emitted (a metric known as the “carbon intensity” of the economy).

Despite the reductions, Texas still has higher carbon emissions than any other state. Greens are seizing on this fact as evidence that the Lone Star State is environmentally derelict, but focusing on the total emissions rather than the sharp downward trend misses the larger point: Texas is finding ways to become more carbon-efficient without gutting its energy industry.

We’ve written at length about the recent economic success story in Texas. More than any other state, Texas has proven that it can produce jobs, maintain budget surpluses, and grow GDP, all while reducing impact on the environment. Green Malthusians fret that economic growth and environmental sustainability cannot coexist. Texas is doing its best to prove them wrong.

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  • MWFlorida

    Most of Texas improvement is due to fracking, but you leave out the fact that Texas also has an ambitious renewable portfolio standard for its electricity supply. It has become the largest state in the U.S. for wind power generation. ViaMeadia regularly criticizes this type of government mandate, yet it plays a significant part of this success story.

    • 1> Is this wind power “surge” in Texas economically sustainable over the long term? Or will these windmills join all the rusty ones of earlier years, used for pumping water but now spinning aimlessly in the wind, that dot Texas and the other Plains states? That is one metric that will determine whether or not this is a “success”.

      2> There is a big difference between one state mandating a high percentage of renewables in its “living laboratory”, and having the Federal government jamming it down the throats of all fifty, economics be damned, before any lab reports based on actual performance are in.

      • MWFlorida

        Once installed, wind turbines cost very little to operate, so yes they will run for the long term. It’s a little unfair to compare modern wind turbines to Depression-era windmills. (By the way some of these still operate 75-100 years after being installed.)

        Wind energy is cheaper today than power generated from new coal or nuclear plants. Though not true today, it is also cheaper than natural gas if gas prices rise back to their levels of 5 years ago.

        I spent a career in the power industry. One thing you learn is the value of diversity of supply. What is cheapest today often isn’t a few years from now. Wind represents a good hedge from becoming overly dependent on gas.

        • As an engineering student who co-op’ed in the planning department of a municipal utility … designed load management and generator-control equipment in my first ten years or so as a practicing engineer …
          and has spent the last nineteen designing and applying advanced-battery and power-conversion technologies at power levels from milliwatts to hundreds of kilowatts … I have learned that efforts at early adoption of less-than-fully-developed technology that is driven by politics and ideology rather than science and economics is often counterproductive, when it comes to actually advancing the state of the art and the state of the nation.

          I still remember the CARB zero-emissions mandate that led GM to pour millions down the rathole known as the EV1 while leaving the more practical but non-ZEV hybrids to Toyota, to cite just one example of the “if we mandate it, it will come” fallacy.

          The 800-lb gorilla in the room is the intermittent nature of wind and solar … until we solve that (and some of the work I do these days is towards that end), we are effectively double-building generation capacity to accommodate renewable sources while maintaining system reliability … and also absorbing the extra maintenance costs of dozens/hundreds of generating nodes that cannot be relied upon for 24/7 power.

          The devil is in the details … and behind the cloaks of the politicians, whispering in their ears.

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