AUSTIN – With seventy five percent of Texas still in drought, Environment Texas released a new Environment Texas Research and Policy Center report today that shows that Texas’ current power generation from wind energy saves enough water to meet the needs of 130,800 Texans, about the population of Waco or Killeen. And as Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath prompts more Texans to call for action to tackle global warming and the rise in extreme weather, the report finds that Texas wind energy displaces as much global warming pollution as taking 3,334,000 cars off the road per year.
Environment Texas was joined by Dr. Elliot Trester of Austin Physicians for Social Responsibility and David Weinberg of the Texas League of Conservation Voters in releasing the Environment Texas Research and Policy Center report, Wind Power for a Cleaner America: Reducing Global Warming Pollution, Cutting Air Pollution, and Saving Water, and touting wind energy’s environmental benefits to date, as well as future benefits if wind power continues to grow. The speakers urged Congress to extend critical federal incentives for wind power—the renewable energy production tax credit (PTC) and the offshore wind investment tax credit (ITC)—before they expire at the end of the year.
“Wind power is already replacing the dirty and dangerous energy sources of the past and creating a cleaner, healthier future for Texans,” said Luke Metzger, Director of Environment Texas. “We can continue on this path of cutting dangerous pollution and saving water if Congress acts now to extend critical wind incentives. Our message to Congress is clear: Don’t throw wind power off the fiscal cliff. Our clean air, water, and children’s future are too important to blow it now.”
Wind energy now provides 6.9% of Texas’ making Texas the number one wind producer in the country. If wind development continues at a pace comparable to that of recent years through 2016, Texas would reduce global warming pollution by as much as taking an additional 2,291,000 cars off the road, and would save enough water to meet the needs of an additional 89,800 Texans.
“We need to increase these important environmental benefits of wind energy by increasing wind power in our state,” said David Weinberg, Executive Director of the Texas League of Conservation Voters. “In this year of significant drought, the water savings secured by increased wind power are critical to our local environment and our economy.”
The report also outlined that today’s wind energy in Texas is delivering results for public health, by avoiding 16,780 tons of smog-causing and 22,990 tons of soot pollution.
“We need to increase the environmental and health benefits of wind energy by increasing wind power in our state, “Dr. Elliot Trester of Austin Physicians for Social Responsibility. “With so many Texans suffering from respiratory diseases such as asthma, the air pollution benefits of wind power can help save lives.”
Texas’ successful development of wind energy results largely from the state’s renewable electricity standard which required electric companies to generate 5880 megawatts of renewable energy by 2015 and the federal renewable energy Production Tax Credit.
Wind energy now powers nearly 13 million homes across the country and is on its way to being cost-competitive with traditional fossil fuels. But the two key federal wind power incentives—the production tax credit and the offshore wind investment tax credit —expire at the end of the year. Without these credits, many planned wind farms will not be built, leaving health and environmental benefits for Texans on the table.
Despite the benefits of wind energy and widespread public support for federal policies to promote renewable energy, fossil fuel interests and their allies in Congress are vigorously opposing the PTC and ITC.
“As Texas is still suffering from one of the worst droughts in history and we must invest wisely in a future with smarter use of our water resources,” Metzger. “Time is running out. We urge Congress to extend the renewable energy production tax credit and offshore wind investment tax credit before the end of the year. Our clean air, water, and children’s future depend on it.”
Environment Texas is a statewide, citizen-based, environmental advocacy organization working toward a cleaner, greener, healthier future.
Environment Texas Research & Policy Center is dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces by investigating problems, crafting solutions, educating the public and decision-makers, and helping the public make their voices heard in local, state and national debates over the quality of our environment and our lives.