The QueQue: They saved the internet, Texas, king of the Greenhouse, Occupy the federal courthouse
Published: January 18, 2012
New data released by the Environmental Protection Agency last week reminded the world that Texas is still an energy player — and planet destroyer. Texas power plants, oil refineries, and other large industrial facilities pumped out 294 million tons of carbon dioxide, methane and other heat-trapping gases in 2010, more than the next two top emitters, Pennsylvania and Florida, combined. That's down considerably from 2003, when the state was releasing an estimated 670 million tons and was considered — if calculated as its own country, as state leaders so often like to pretend — the world's seventh largest greenhouse emitter. (The new numbers place us closer to Poland circa 2008, or around slot 20.)
To get the new figures, the EPA collected data from more than 6,700 industrial facilities around the country that release at least 25,000 tons of greenhouse gas into the air every year, comparable to emissions from burning 131 railcars of coal, the agency said. Of Texas' 673 power plants, refineries, and other large industrial facilities tagged by the EPA, Luminant's Martin Lake lignite-burning power plant in East Texas topped the list, releasing 18.7 million tons of greenhouse gases in 2010, also making it the nation's fourth largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the nation.
The agency's release of the new easily searchable database will likely further fuel the fight brewing between Texas and the EPA. Texas has so far been the only state openly refusing to adhere to EPA's new nationwide greenhouse gas emissions standards — the EPA, in turn, has taken the rare step of taking over greenhouse gas permitting in the state for new power plants, refineries, and other large industrial facilities. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has taken the fight to the courts, hoping to stop the new regs. Not surprisingly, CPS Energy's Spruce and Deely coal-fired power plants topped Bexar County's list, collectively emitting nearly 13 million tons of greenhouse gases in 2010 followed by Alamo San Antonio Cement Plant with a mere 799,000 tons. CPS has announced plans to close Deely by 2018.
Occupy the federal courthouse
This Friday the federal courthouse downtown will get Occupied over the lunch hour. And while the terminology will be familiar enough that our readers don't really need it spelled out for them, this occupation deserves two clarifications. Protestors rallying on January 20 have a specific agenda (overturning the Supreme Court's majority decision of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission responsible for the flood of anonymous dollars now usurping our political process with untraceable corporate dollars) and the benefit of organization (organization, that is, beyond the "leaderless" variety represented by the recent extended presence at HemisFair Park that never truly sparked in San Antonio).
Local attorney Michele Petty has organized the Friday action (12:15pm, 655 E. Cesar E. Chavez), expecting good street theatre to capture Big Media's attention (who can resist giant dancing puppets?) and patriotic songs to stir the hearts of attendees. But ultimately the movement sprouting actions across the nation hopes to get a constitutional amendment on the books wiping out Citizens United now enabling the Super PACS to rake in virtually unlimited dollars for issue ads to sway votes.
Cities across the country (such as NYC) have been passing resolutions calling for the end of corporate personhood and supporting the Move to Amend. Petty even has a draft resolution ready for the San Antonio City Council that you can check out at blogs.sacurrent.com. It starts: "We believe the U.S. Supreme Court got it wrong..." •