Energy & Environmental Policy

Texas Can Lead the World in Clean Energy and Policy – Come and Take It!

You’ve got to hand it to Rick Perry – this guy knows how to stay in the spotlight and keep his name in the papers. Gov. Perry has that unique ability to tap into the next big wave – that elusive undercurrent of public sentiment – that keeps him front and center in the public’s mind. “The Gov” is currently cashing in on the anti-Washington and anti-establishment wave. The cover of Newsweek says it all: “Don’t Mess With Texas.”

Us Texans are a proud people. We have a rich heritage and history rooted in the frontier, survival during tough times and suspicion of government. But is this go-it-alone attitude really the best way forward for our state?

What role should our state take in a quickly changing world? More specifically, how should Texas think about energy and climate change legislation? Is the governor right? Are overarching government policies and regulations going to strangle our state?

I don’t think the answer is clear-cut. In some instances, I think Rick Perry can make a reasonable argument that a one-size-fits-all climate bill will be inefficient in some regards. There are many industry- and regionally-specific details that will need to be hammered out. For example, promoting electric vehicles as a way to reduce carbon emissions may be a great idea in Washington state where there is abundant hydroelectricity, but a poor policy in Ohio where most electricity comes from coal.

However, it is hard to disagree that government interaction and instigation isn’t necessary at this stage in our transition to a lower carbon culture. The federal government can help industry and ultimately save them a lot of money by setting guidelines and the rules of the road. The new Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards passed this year set a level playing field for emissions and fuel economy standards that allow auto manufacturers to build one version of a car for the entire country, instead of one version for California and another for the rest of country.

Federal regulations and policies will allow the nation’s utilities and heavy industries to put down billions of dollars in capital investments for more efficient power plants, emissions control equipment and transmission lines simply by knowing the rules of the road. Business does not like uncertainty; government can step in and lend a hand.

While change is hard to stomach sometimes, Texas would be wise to cash in on its tremendous ability to lead the world in clean energy, green jobs and technology that will be required around the world. We’re the nation’s leader in terms of semiconductor manufacturing and expertise, oil and gas exploration and abundance of renewable resources. Instead of alienating ourselves by chastising Washington, D.C. and the rest of the world, Gov Perry should be making sure Texas leads the rest of the world in clean energy, technologies, and policies. These are the ideas that we should be promoting to the rest of the world, not silly rhetoric about secession and socialism.

We’re natural leaders. It’s in our blood. The clean energy future is ours to win or lose. Instead of telling everyone to “go to hell”, we should be leading the world. Then we can tell everyone to “come and take it.” Last time I checked, it worked out pretty well for us.

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