Thursday, January 25, 2007

More Debate on TXU Emissions

If you're at all concerned about the increasingly dire news on global climate change, rest assured. Our Republican leadership in Texas has looked into it, and they don't see much reason to worry.

Gov. Rick Perry: “I am not going to put the state of Texas in a competitive economic disadvantage on some science that may or may not be correct.”

Meanwhile, TXU is launching a charm offensive to reassure the public that they take the issue of air quality seriously.

The Dallas-based energy company is negotiating with state regulators on a binding agreement that would require TXU, over the next four years, to add pollution controls at the four plants to chemically change ozone-forming pollutants into harmless water vapor.

Doing so could cut the amount of ozone-producing emissions at each plant by at least half. The agreement would also mandate pollution controls that would significantly cut emissions of toxic mercury at each plant, state officials say.

Slashing emissions at the four plants -- all within 150 miles of Dallas-Fort Worth -- should aid regional efforts to improve air quality and bring the nine-county region into compliance with federal ground-level ozone standards by a 2010 deadline.

That's the good news. Here's the bad.

TXU has trumpeted its pledge to cut emissions by 20 percent as the answer to many of our air quality questions.....

So the revelation that the Dallas-based utility might uphold its end of this bargain and then sell the emissions credits to other polluters took our breath away.

In a deposition released Tuesday, Mike McCall, the chairman and CEO of TXU Wholesale, acknowledged the possibility of selling the credits – a move that would transfer permission to pollute to another company, essentially nullifying any improvement in air quality.

And if you think any of this means that TXU has thrown in the towel, there's this.

We are hearing that TXU, the power company seeking to build all those conventional coal-burning power plants in Texas, is going door-to-door in the Senate, trying to secure a “grandfather” status for those plants when it comes to global warming emissions. TXU wants to nuke (sorry – wrong word!) any effort in Congress to restrict free credits or allowances for those facilities. As you’ll recall, the legislation introduced last week by Senators Feinstein and Carper would do exactly that, and we expect other proposed legislation will attempt the same.

Start following the money, because you can bet those visits will be followed up with campaign contributions! (According to the Center for Responsive Politics, TXU contributed in the last election cycle to such senators as Inhofe, DeMint, Vitter, Bingaman and Thomas. See for more. )

Meanwhile, a Waco legislator introduced a resolution Wednesday to halt the fast-tracking of permits.

State Rep. Charles "Doc" Anderson, R-Waco, filed a resolution Wednesday urging the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to impose a six-month moratorium on the permitting and construction of any new power plants......

The legislation has a chance for success in the Republican-dominated Legislature because it would only urge, not require, the state to temporarily halt new plant construction, said Harvey Kronberg, an Austin political analyst.

Perry's office declined to say whether the governor would actively oppose the legislation or veto it if it is approved.

Which brings us back to that opening statement. Two guesses as to which way he's leaning, and the first one doesn't count.

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