Friday, February 29, 2008

Texas - more polluting than California and Pennsylvania combined

Not on smog, soot or ozone, but on what our Preznit-elect said in 2000 was a pollutant: carbon dioxide. If it were its own nation, the idea of which many native Texans like to brag about and many other Americans sometimes fervently wish were actually the case, it would be the world’s eighth-largest global warming polluter. It’s actually slipped from its No. 7 spot of five years ago, but only because of Canada’s massive atmospheric destruction to extract oil sands.

Here’s a breakdown of why:

Considering its role in the U.S. economy, it's no surprise Texas ranks as it does. As the nation's leading producer of energy, and with more cattle and oil refineries than any other state, it is essentially America's power plant, gas pump and beef basket. Yes, all those cows play a part. While many environmentalists focus on the methane (another greenhouse gas) produced by cows, the raising of cattle also contributes to CO2 emissions (the burning of fuel to transport cattle and meat, etc.). A study released last summer by Japanese scientists showed that production of just 1 kilogram of beef results in more CO2 emissions than going for a three-hour drive while leaving all the lights on at home.

Simple answer: eat less beef. Another reason is, if you have to eat meat, it only takes 4-5 pounds of plant food to put a pound of weight on a chicken or hog. It takes 8 pounds of feed with a cow.

But the problem isn’t just with farting cows in the country. Read on below the fold:

Here’s the real problem today, though and it’s in urban Texas:
But it's not just industry and agriculture that give Texas such an outsize carbon footprint. Texans epitomize America's penchant for overconsumption, so much so that they've even coined their own phrase for superlarge portions: Texas-sized. The state's 23.5 million residents use nearly 3,000 more kilowatt-hours of electricity every year than the average American and a higher percentage of them drive large, gas-guzzling vehicles. Of the 20 million registered vehicles in Texas, one in four is a pickup truck. Of the 245 million vehicles registered in the United States, only 16 percent are pickups, according to the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. Last year light trucks made up 61 percent of all new vehicles (both personal and commercial) sold in Texas, compared to just over half of total vehicle sales in the country.

Nearly a third of Texas's carbon emissions come from transportation. With so much wide-open space, Texas hasn’t needed the kind of urban planning that promotes density. Rather, it is a state of far-flung towns and cities, connected by highways and with practically no mass transit. Air quality has suffered as a result; by some estimates more than half of all Texans live in areas where the air is unsafe to breathe, as defined by the EPA's Clean Air Act.

And, here’s the attitude that seeps from Gov. Helmethair (Rick Perry) on down:
Even in the reddest of Red States, one would think that such a health hazard would cause Texas to get serious about air pollution. But it is one of only 15 states without a climate action plan in place or even under consideration. This at a time when some of the most aggressive state plans have taken shape under Republican governors, according to national climate protection groups. In 2006, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger muscled through the most ambitious carbon cap-and-trade plan of any state in the country, aimed at reducing statewide CO2 emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Last summer Florida’s GOP Gov. Charlie Crist signed executive orders to slash the state's greenhouse-gas emissions to 20 percent of 1990 levels by 2050. In Minnesota, Gov. Tim Pawlenty last year signed a law requiring state utilities to generate a quarter of their power from renewable sources by 2025, and in Connecticut, Gov. Jodi Rell’s Energy Vision initiative calls for 20 percent of all energy used and sold in the state to come from clean or renewable sources by 2020.

Last year the Texas Association of Manufacturers and Houston-based Exxon Mobil successfully lobbied against a bill that would have provided incentives to homeowners and businesses to install solar panels. The Republican-held state legislature even voted down a bill that would have allowed cities to increase their sales tax in order to fund the construction of light rail systems, for fear of appearing to be seen as raising taxes. When a Democratic state senator from Austin proposed a bill that would have merely set up a task force to study climate change, it was defeated thanks to fierce opposition from the business community, including the Texas Oil and Gas Association and Texas Automobile Dealers Association.

Contrary to Perry’s feeble joke attempt that the biggest source of global warming is Al Gore’s mouth, it’s his own flapping trap that’s the problem.

Help may be on the horizon, though. The Peak Oil horizon. Oil prices staying over $100 a barrel will force more more Dallasite, Houstonian, and even Austinite Red State/neck driver, all of whom are such titty-babies they slow their pickups and SUVs down to half a mile per hour for speed bumps, to junk their gas guzzlers which will never see the likes of an unpaved road, and buy cars instead.