The Texas Legislative Guide was designed and developed by Becca Aaronson, Emily Albracht, Daniel Craigmile, Annie Daniel, Ben Hasson and Ryan Murphy for The Texas Tribune. The Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that promotes civic engagement and discourse on public policy, politics, government and other matters of statewide concern.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed “Clean Power Plan” — aimed at combating climate change — would require Texas to slash carbon emissions from its power plants by as much as 195 billion pounds of carbon dioxide in the next 18 years. That 43 percent reduction is among the larger percentage of cuts required among states. The proposal allows states to draw up their own path to meet the goals.
The EPA suggests that Texas could meet its goal through a combination of actions: making coal plants more efficient, switching to cleaner-burning natural gas, adding more renewable resources and bolstering energy efficiency. Texas would have until 2016 to submit a plan to meet its carbon target.
Dueling analyses have come to opposite conclusions about how easily Texas could meet that goal, and how the plan might affect electric reliability and prices. Some electric utilities say they are ready to help the state carry out the plan, citing recent investments in natural gas and renewable power. Others — particularly those that rely heavily on coal — are less prepared.
The state’s Republican leadership has loudly panned the proposal, which is set to become final in June 2015. Attorney General Ken Paxton announced in May that the state plans to sue the Obama administration over the rules, saying that they would threaten the state’s power grid and increase electric prices. But some, citing the state’s string of recent defeats in challenges to EPA rules, have suggested that Texas can’t bank on a court victory in this case.
Meanwhile, state regulators are examining how Texas might meet its carbon target. Bills that would direct them to adopt a plan died in the Legislature.
If Texas does not develop a plan to reduce carbon emissions, the EPA could do so instead. It is not clear what such a plan would look like.
Updated: May 27, 2015
- Combating local drilling ordinances
- Responding to volatile oil prices
- Acting on the EPA's "Clean Power Plan"
- Incentivizing shift to natural gas vehicles
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