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.
Coal- and natural gas-fired power plants pollute our air, are major contributors to global warming, and consume vast amounts of water—harming our rivers and lakes and leaving less water for other uses. Wind energy has none of these problems. It produces no air pollution, makes no contribution to global warming, and uses no water.
Global warming is happening now and its effects are being felt in the United States and around the world. Among the expected consequences of global warming is an increase in the heaviest rain and snow storms, fueled by increased evaporation and the ability of a warmer atmosphere to hold more moisture. An analysis of more than 80 million daily precipitation records from across the contiguous United States reveals that intense rainstorms and snowstorms have already become more frequent and more severe. Extreme downpours are now happening 30 percent more often nationwide than in 1948. In other words, large rain or snowstorms that happened once every 12 months, on average, in the middle of the 20th century now happen every nine months. Moreover, the largest annual storms now produce 10 percent more precipitation, on average. An increase in extreme downpours has costly ramifications for the United States, with the potential to cause more flooding that jeopardizes property and lives. With scientists predicting even greater increases in extreme precipitation in the years ahead, the United States and the world must take action to reduce pollution that contributes to global warming.