Texas Ranks First in Nation for Global Warming Pollution

Power Plants, Cars Main Culprits Cited in Report

AUSTIN—Global warming pollution in Texas increased by 18% between 1990 and 2004, according to The Carbon Boom, a new analysis of state fossil fuel consumption data released today by Environment Texas.  This is the first time that 2004 state-by-state data on carbon dioxide emissions have been released. The report finds that Texas ranks first in the nation for total emissions, first for emissions from coal plants, first for emissions from natural gas plants, and first for the largest increase in emissions from motor gasoline consumption.

“Given the risks from global warming, it’s incredibly irresponsible for Texas’ global warming pollution to increase.  It’s like the doctor telling you that you need to go on a serious diet, but instead you go straight for the Ben & Jerry’s,” said Luke Metzger, Director of Environment Texas.

Environment Texas’ report comes less than a week after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a U.N. body charged with assessing the scientific record on global warming, released its consensus report on the current and projected impacts of global warming.  The report warned of increasing droughts, floods, heat waves, water stress, forest fires, and coastal flooding in the United States but concluded that “many impacts can be avoided, reduced, or delayed” by quickly and significantly reducing global warming pollution.

“Global warming pollution is skyrocketing in Texas just as scientists are sounding alarms that we must rapidly reduce pollution to protect future generations.  This report is a wake-up call to cap pollution levels now before it is too late,” said Metzger.

Using data compiled by the U.S. Department of Energy, Environment Texas’ new report examines trends in carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel consumption between 1990 and 2004, the most recent year for which state-by-state data are available.

Major findings of the report include:

  • Texas’ carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel consumption grew from 560.5 million metric tons to 659 million metric tons between 1990 and 2004, an increase of 18%. Texas ranked 1st nationwide for the largest absolute increase in carbon dioxide emissions over the 15 year period and 1st for the most carbon dioxide emissions in 2004. 
  • In Texas, carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants jumped by 23% between 1990 and 2004, rising from 119.8 million metric tons to 148.9 million metric tons.  Texas ranked first nationwide for the most carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants in 2004.
  • In Texas, carbon dioxide emissions from natural gas-fired power plants increased by 21% between 1990 and 2004, rising from 62 million metric tons to 75.3 million metric tons. Texas ranked first nationwide for the most carbon dioxide emissions from natural gas-fired power plants in 2004.
  • In Texas, carbon dioxide emissions from burning gasoline (primarily in cars and SUVs) increased by 34% between 1990 and 2004, rising from 73.4 million metric tons to 98.4 million metric tons.  Between 1990 and 2004, vehicle miles traveled in Texas increased by 48%, while cars and SUVs became less efficient. Texas ranked first nationwide for the largest absolute increase in carbon dioxide emissions from motor gasoline consumption over the 15 year period.

“The good news is that we have the technology at our fingertips to cut global warming pollution and forge a cleaner, more secure energy future,” said Metzger.

The United States could substantially reduce its global warming pollution by using existing technologies to make power plants, businesses, homes, and cars more efficient and increasing the use of clean, renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power. 

The Safe Climate Act (H.R. 1590), introduced by Representative Henry Waxman (CA) in the House, and the Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act (S. 309), introduced by Senators Bernie Sanders (VT) and Barbara Boxer (CA) in the Senate, would limit global warming pollution to levels that current science says are needed to prevent the worst effects of global warming.  The bills would freeze U.S. global warming emissions in 2010 and reduce emissions by about 15% by 2020 and by 80% by 2050.

“To protect future generations, our leaders must take decisive action to cut global warming pollution.  Environment Texas calls on Congress to pass the only bill that does what scientists say we need to do—the Safe Climate Act,” concluded Metzger.  “We commend Representatives Lloyd Doggett, Sheila Jackson Lee and Eddie Bernice Johnson for co-sponsoring this critical legislation”.