After Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst‘s remarks, made during his session-opening luncheon just a week ago, about his plans to push for “regulatory and fiscal incentives” to phase out the heavy-polluting coal plants that were built back to the 1970s and replace them with natural gas plants, the Lt. Governor is now back pedalling saying he’s NOT pushing for fast shutdown of Texas’ aging or inefficient coal-fired power plants. Instead, he wants to gradually increasing the use of cleaner-burning, Texas natural gas through market-based incentives.
Dewhurst backed off his earlier stance after the Dallas Morning News suggested the plan would mean lights out for Texas, since those old plants account for some 8,300 megawatts.
Coal vs gas could be yet another controversy as the 2011 session heats up. There’s pressure from the EPA and elsewhere for Texas to lower its pollution levels, and the feds show little sign of backing away from their efforts to regulated greenhouse gas emissions.
One thing is obvious, Dewhurst doesn’t want to caught in crossfire of the coal vs. gas battle. Instead, he is falling back on standard industry language, meant to placate everyone. “In order to meet our current energy demands and fuel our economy, Texas will continue to rely on the use of coal, wind, nuclear and solar power, in addition to natural gas, as part of our diversified energy portfolio.”
Oh for the days when occasionally a politician would take a position – right or wrong, popular or unpopular – and stand by it.
By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.