Solar energy is on the rise. America has more than three times as much solar photovoltaic capacity today as in 2010, and more than 10 times as much as in 2007. In the first three months of 2013, solar power accounted for nearly half of the new electricity generating capacity in the United States. The price of solar energy is falling rapidly, and each year tens of thousands of additional Americans begin to reap the benefits of clean energy from the sun, generated right on the rooftops of their homes or places of business.
Fracking” operations pose a staggering array of threats to our environment and health – contaminating drinking water, harming the health
of nearby residents, marring forests and landscapes, and contributing to global warming. Many of these damages from drilling have significant “dollars and cents” costs.
To the extent that this dirty drilling is allowed to continue, policymakers must require, among other things, that the oil and gas industry provide up front financial assurance commensurate with the potential for damage. By holding operators fully accountable, strong financial assurance requirements deter some of the riskiest practices and ensure that the industry, rather than the public, bears the brunt
of the costs. Requiring such assurance up front – i.e., before drilling occurs – helps ensure that the public is not left holding the bag when the boom is gone and drilling operators have left the scene.
Water levels in Texas’ rivers and streams are dropping. The 2011 drought was the worst in more than a century, and conditions improved little in 2012. Drought has reduced recreational opportunities, harmed wildlife, and threatened drinking water supplies. As Texas’ population and economy continue to grow, demand for water will increase, making it more important than ever to use water wisely.
Texas is a world leader in wind energy. Wind energy has brought new jobs, new revenue for land-owners, a cleaner environment, and lower electricity prices to Texas. Texas’ leadership in wind energy is no accident – it is the result of policies such as the state’s Renewable Electricity Standard. Some, however, are now calling for Texas to reverse its commitment to wind energy because wind is making wholesale electricity
too cheap – reducing the financial incentive to build new power plants.
Texas has the nation’s greatest potential for solar energy. “Going solar” is a smart solution for Texas—it reduces our reliance on fossil fuels, curbs air pollution, saves water, creates local jobs and keeps money in the local economy. Austin and San Antonio are showing how Texas can expand the use of solar energy and reap the benefits. The electric utilities in San Antonio and Austin have installed four times more solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity than the rest of Texas combined. The solar policies adopted by these cities and their municipal utilities provide a strong example for how the rest of Texas can reach its solar energy potential.