January 26, 2008 6:10 AM

Behind the curve and proud of it

Texas Is Biggest Carbon Polluter

(AUSTIN, Texas) ‚Äö√Ñ√Æ Everything’s big in Texas ‚Äö√Ñ√Æ big pickup trucks, big SUVs and the state’s big carbon footprint, too…. The headquarters state of America’s oil industry spewed 670 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in 2003, enough that Texas would rank seventh in the world if it were its own country, according to the most recent figures from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The amount is more than that of California and Pennsylvania ‚Äö√Ñ√Æ the second- and third-ranking states ‚Äö√Ñ√Æ combined. A multitude of factors contribute to the carbon output, among them: Texas’ 19 coal-burning power plants; a heavy concentration of refineries and chemical plants; a lack of mass transit; and a penchant among ranchers and urban cowboys alike for brawny, gas-guzzling trucks ‚Äö√Ñ√Æ sometimes to haul things, but often just to look Texas tough.

Global climate change? What global climate change? I mean, really…don’tcha think that it’s just a conspiracy by environmentalists, most of whom probably hold stock in companies that build hybrid and electric vehicles? Besides, you’ll get my F-250 when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers.

Having lived in Texas for 10+ years, I can attest to the above mindset. I’ve even contributed to it in my own way. I used to own a Ford F-150 at a time when I in no way needed a truck of that size. Then again, “need” had nothing to do with it. I was a guy, I lived in Texas- ergo, I needed a truck…a big one. I hauled something in the bed maybe twice a year, but it didn’t matter.

In a state in which a Chevy Suburban is referred to as a “Texas Limousine”, getting people to give up their SUVs and full-size trucks for more fuel-efficient vehicles is a tough sell. Hey, you can’t put a gun rack in a Toyota Prius, can you? The fact that Texas is ruled by Republicans known for sucking on the teats of Big Business is doing nothing to make Texas greener. Indeed, outside of Austin, the only green most Texans understand is what goes into their wallets.

Debbie Howden, an Austin real estate agent, said her family of six has two pickup trucks, three SUVs, and no apologies. “I would definitely put size and safety over the emissions thing,” said Howden, 55. She calls their high fuel bills a “necessary evil.”

Yeah, that pretty well sums up the official state attitude towards global climate change. Even among those Texans who might agree that there’s a possibility that global climate change might be a problem, it’s generally considered to be someone else’s responsiblity to do something about it.

I’m not going to condemn Texans for their slothfulness and ignorance of reality, because I can understand where they’re coming from. It’s not as if sacrifice for the common good is something that’s modelled for them by the state’s Republican leadership. Indeed, even Gov. Rick Perry, who, in two-plus terms has yet to do anything memorable, tends to view environmental protection as government meddling (and therefore the product of evil Liberal propaganda). He’s called Al Gore’s mouth the leading producer of carbon dioxide. And Governor Goodhair isn’t merely derisive of the validity of global warming, he seems proud of Texas’ role in contributing to it.

All one has to do is to drive out Hwy 225 from Pasadena through Baytown to understand how and why Texas is anything but green. It’s about energy, and it’s about money. Oh, yeah; it’s also about SUVs and full-size trucks…’cuz everything’s bigger in Texas. Especially the state’s carbon footprint.

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This page contains a single entry by Jack Cluth published on January 26, 2008 6:10 AM.

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