Guest blog post by Lindsey Asis, a Denton native and current UT Austin student and Environment Texas intern.
The grim reality of global warming is not lost on many local governments, even where you would least expect it—the oil guzzling and pumping state of Texas. In light of the fact that 40% of greenhouse gas emissions are produced in cities, city councils are turning their attention to solutions within their reach. Three years ago, Georgetown became the first city to use 100% renewable energy in Texas. On February 6, 2018, Denton, Texas has the opportunity to become the second.
To Denton natives such as myself, this news should not come as a surprise. One of our claims to fame, our beloved square, shows support towards sustainability at every corner; trash cans are equipped with solar panels and compress trash so they need to be emptied less often. On a larger scale, the University of North Texas paves a green road as well. With nearly 40,000 people enrolled, the large research university has made a bold statement in their pledge to the future by placing three windmills right next to the newly built Apogee Stadium.
By Runfellow (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Not only has the school made a visible effort to reduce their carbon footprint, but it has led the way for Denton overall; it is a 100% renewable energy campus. The effects of this cannot be understated as Denton has become the national leader in public power, providing its customers with 40% wind energy at no additional rate. The recent shift towards renewable resources expands much further than the Georgetown and Denton. The renewable energy industry has grown immensely in the past few years across Texas; for example, we produce 7 times more wind and 220 times more solar power than we did in 2007. As of 2012 Texas was the No. 1 producer of wind energy, and while we are still an oil-ridden state, it is undeniable that the tide is turning.
With this legacy set before us, one might be led to think that a 100% renewable Denton is undeniably the decision that will be made tomorrow. However, history has led me to be a little more cautious in my faith with the Denton City Council. Three years ago, I entered my first politically-oriented organization as a sophomore at Denton High School, the Frack Free Denton campaign. Attending meetings and learning about the cause, I worked for the campaign until we attained victory in banning hydraulic fracturing within county lines. This achievement and my young hope for the democratic system was short-lived, however; the state overturned the ban in HB 40 with no argument from the Denton City Council.
This was not the only occasion that Denton failed to take a strong stance towards environmental sustainability; just last year that Denton approved in a controversial, 4-3 vote, the building 220 MW of new natural gas plants. Finally, while the Denton City Council voted in favor of a power plan that promised to generate 70% of the city’s energy from renewable resources by 2019, recent circumstances have made further renewable energy efforts more difficult. Namely, two weeks ago Donald Trump imposed a 30% tariff on solar panels. With federal taxes and pressure trying to fulfill our administration’s empty promises of a great, gas-guzzling empire, a green future begins to feel more and more like a pipe dream.
In light of all of the factors influencing this upcoming decision, we can't take tomorrow's vote for granted. Therefore it is up to us, my fellow Dentonites, to contact our City Council members and voice our dream for a renewable Denton that fuels an industry that will last for generations, not years, to come.