Ellis Fighting for a Greener, More Eco-Friendly Texas
Legislation would increase renewable energy use, reduce emissions, boost efficiency
AUSTIN — Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) today called for swift action on a series of legislation which will reduce emissions, combat global warming, increase renewable energy use, create new high-tech green jobs and boost energy efficiency in Texas.
The Ellis environment package, includes:
- SB 119, clean cars legislation, which would adopt California's emissions standards for 2012 cars;
- SB 136, legislation to create a Texas Cap & Trade system to combat the effects of global warming;
- SB 108, legislation to create a Texas Green Jobs Skills Development Program. This bill intends to take advantage of Texas' potential for growth in the renewable energy and energy efficiency markets to bring thousands of new green jobs to Texas;
- SB 128, SB 130, and SB 133 gives tax breaks for green buildings, hybrid and electric cars and renewable energy devices like solar panels and geothermal heat pumps.
- SB 435, which will give a big boost to solar and renewable power. The legislation would require that Texas receive 5 percent of its peak power production from renewable sources, such as solar, bio-mass and geothermal. The legislation targets peak energy use to combat pollution when Texans are using the most energy.
"I am proud to have filed comprehensive environmental legislation which will increase the use of renewable energy, significantly cut carbon emissions, help create jobs and boost energy efficiency," said Ellis.
Cutting Emissions/Cap & Trade
Senate Bill 119 would instruct the Texas Commission on Environmental Equality (TCEQ) to implement a low-emissions vehicle program consistent with the more stringent California Low Emissions Vehicle II, starting in automobiles for model year 2012. The EPA is currently reviewing California's plan, which confronts many of the air quality challenges facing Texas.
Senate Bill 136, will create a cap & trade system for Texas. The legislation will require the TCEQ to quantify Texas’ carbon emissions from 1990 and create a plan to return the state to that level by 2023. Most climate scientists believe Texas will need 80 percent reductions from 1990 levels by 2050. The legislation would not be implemented until 2015, which would allow Texas several years of planning. Texas companies can, however, take voluntary measures now and receive credits for doing so.
"It is vital to remember that carbon regulation will help Texas' economy," said Ellis. "If Texas leaders are involved in finding solutions to global warming, our economy could benefit greatly. We've barely begun to take advantage of the economic benefits of these proposals."
There is tremendous opportunity for economic growth in the areas of energy efficiency, renewable energy, and green building and retrofits. The Governor’s State Energy Plan projected that two-thirds of all energy jobs created over the next decade will be in renewable energy. Green jobs training is also a priority in the recently passed federal stimulus package, which provided $500 million for green jobs training. Senate Bill 108 would position Texas to draw down some of those federal dollars to create thousands of new jobs in clean energy.
"Green jobs are the wave of the future, and Texas needs to do everything we can to now to start planning for that future today," said Ellis. "Senate Bill 108 moves us forward and will help us take advantage of the unprecedented efforts made at the federal level toward energy efficiency, weatherizing and other green projects."
According to the Renewable Energy Assessment done by the State Energy Conservation Office, Texas could get all of its power if we could harness even one per cent of the potential energy from solar. Texas currently generates less than one one-hundredth of a per cent from solar energy. Senate Bill 435 would give a big push to solar, geothermal, bio-mass and other renewables by requiring Texas generate 5 percent of its peak power production for renewable sources. By mandating 5 percent use of renewable energy during peak power, Texas will significantly cut down on pollution precisely when Texans are using the most energy.
"Everyone knows by now that Texas is the leader in wind energy, producing more than any other state, including California," said Ellis. "But so far, we've been beaten badly in the solar race, by just about everybody -- including New Jersey, which has a fraction of the solar potential of Texas. That is unacceptable and SB 435 will change that by requiring 5 percent of our power during peak energy use come from solar, bio-mass, geothermal and other renewable energies beyond just wind."