Feature Stories | Original, in-depth reporting | 2009
TCN Interview

James Hansen is perhaps the world’s best-known climate scientist, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City, and the man who dramatically propelled the subject of global warming to public prominence with his congressional testimony in the late 1980s.

Emissions of carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas, fell in Texas from 2004 to 2007, even before the recession of 2008-09 suppressed economic activity and CO2 emissions.

That was one of the conclusions in an environmental group’s analysis of what it called the latest data from the U.S. Department of Energy.

TCN Interview

As parts of Texas endured severe drought conditions this summer, the Austin-based Texas Harambe Foundation launched a new venture, the Texas Drought Project. The organization’s stated mission includes “recognition of indicators of climate change, recommendations for modifications to policies governing water, methods of conservation, and solutions to the overall problem.”

The nation’s first “Energy Citizens” rally – staged by the American Petroleum Institute (API) and coalition allies in Houston this week to criticize the House-passed climate bill – was, to all appearances and by various accounts, a disciplined exercise in tightly focused strategic messaging.

Texas has not kept pace with many other states in adopting policies that address global warming – a distinction that the Legislature left unchanged in its 2009 session.

Some Texas government and business leaders, meanwhile, have been outspoken in opposing federal regulations to combat climate change, particularly the American Clean Energy and Security (or ACES) Act, which barely won House approval in June.

With much of Texas enduring a late-spring spell of high temperatures, the last thing many Texans probably want to hear right now is that their hot state could very well get a lot hotter.

Proponents of forceful Texas action to reduce heat-trapping greenhouse emissions had high hopes at the start of the 81st Legislature in January, but they were dashed as various bills on the brink of passage died when the session ended last week.

With the 81st Texas Legislature now in the home stretch, a number of bills relating to climate change and cleaner energy have advanced far enough to give proponents hope that some, at least, may become law.

When the Austin City Council decided earlier this month to approve building the nation’s biggest solar power array, it was a significant action in itself. More importantly, perhaps, the council’s unanimous vote on the $250 million facility also joined a growing list of recent developments that add up to what pro-solar advocates are now calling “momentum.”