February 7, 2011 § Leave a comment
Multiple news sources reported this week on the slow but certain death of a 3,000 tree pecan orchard in Ellinger, Texas, a particularly lovely region of Texas with pastures, creeks, hills, and trees sixty miles southeast of Austin.
The orchard is located in what has become over years a dead zone – a vegetative wasteland. Pecan grower Harvey Hayek describes the area as: ‘dead, dead, dead’. The orchard that once produced 200,000 pounds of pecans produced only 8,000 pounds this year.
The consensus among locals, botanists, and plant pathologists is that the cause of this destruction is SO2 toxicity from the next door Fayette Power Plant, a coal-fired power plant that has operated for thirty years without equipment designed to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions. What?
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) reports that the coal plant is ‘not the likely cause’. The plant operates under a state permitting program that was disapproved by the EPA last June. Rather than comply, Texas has sued the EPA over the permitting process.
It seems that the incidence of vegetative kill zones and SO2 from coal plants is not unique to this orchard. Similar episodes are reported across Central Texas and the South. Texas leads the nation with 19 coal powered plans (mostly brown lignite coal) with three more under development.
In its mission statement, the TCEQ states:
The TCEQ strives to protect our state’s human and natural resources consistent with sustainable economic development. Our goal is clean air, clean water, and safe management of waste.
Well, that’s simple enough. There is nothing about pecan trees. Nice job TCEQ.
The governor has stated repeatedly that Texans want cheap energy. Really? Is it that simple?
On the night of his reelection and the eve of his presidential campaign book tour: Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America from Washington the governor remarked that Americans have spoken, and they do not want any more feel good policies. Really?
Well governor, here is what we want in Texas: a slice of Texas pecan pie with a scope of Blue Bell homemade vanilla ice cream and common sense environmental protections to keep our pecan orchards and cows safe from SO2.
After all, the pecan tree is the state tree of Texas!
Don’t mess with Texas? Well, don’t wait on Texas either. Make a difference with your own roof top PV system today. It is affordable, and it is economic. Just do it.
Chet Boortz, CEO
SES 21 USA
[The comments, positions, and opinions stated above are my own and may or may not represent those of SES 21 USA and its affiliate companies.]
November 30, 2010 § 1 Comment
We are unabashed advocates of the PV solar industry. But we do not view renewable energy as an all or nothing proposition. The social, economic, national security, and environmental issues surrounding energy policies and technologies are immense and the stakes are high.
We advocate open discussion and reasonable policy considerations that address the private and social costs of energy consumption and production and treat all technologies on an equal basis. That’s fair enough. With this in mind, we seek market driven solutions.
We do not believe the world stage will turn to 100% renewable energy at any time soon. Definitions are confusing, and the issues are too staggering to be lost to ideology. We envision a mixed portfolio of energy solutions and a variety of renewable technologies. 20% PV by 2050 is an achievable goal. We cannot stand alone.
Discovery and invention are alive, and tomorrow’s energy solutions undoubtedly are yet to be discovered. That’s a comforting thought. So no roadblocks to innovation please; let’s strive to provide our successors with a cleaner and more sustainable future.
We have divided our blog into three basic sections: (i) Economics, Policy, and Politics, (ii) Markets and Products, and (iii) Technology. We welcome your readership and participation. So please share your thoughts and knowledge with all of us.
Chet Boortz, CEO
SES 21 USA