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 § Leave a comment
November 30, 2010 marks the 13th annual international conference on climate change since the 1997 Kyoto Protocol Agreement to place a cap on greenhouse gases. That was then, and today it looks less promising. It’s good to meet, it’s good to talk about clean air, and it’s good to hope, but it may be well beyond time to look to international actors and their buttress of legislative numbnuts and host committees of polluters and vested interests. It’s time to act alone.
As in the case of micro-lending, it’s time to get personal, local, and ‘on the roof’ for solutions on cleaning the air and combating climate change. Acting alone, we can create a grass roots movement to clean the air in our neighborhoods, cities, and ultimately our planet.
If you own a home or business and have roof space with sun exposure, think about a small scale PV system to supplement your grid provided electricity. You do not need a large system; just get started, and shave your peak electricity load. It’s a perfect solution. Costs are low, supply is abundant, economic returns are high; you add value of your home or business. Acting alone, you are a leader in promoting a sustainable energy future and a more peaceful world.
So hooray for Cancún and good luck, BUT let’s not wait. Light from light. Now, that’s cool!