In February 2018 the Denton City Council voted to make Denton only the second city in Texas, after Georgetown, to set a goal of using 100 percent renewable energy.
But there was a catch: A new natural gas-fueled power plant is part of the plan for the city of 136,000 residents north of Dallas-Fort Worth. Natural gas is promoted as cleaner-burning than other fossil fuels. It’s also environmentally contentious because of impacts ranging from local air quality to global warming. Debate rages, for instance, about whether its use helps or hinders efforts to reduce climate-warming greenhouse emissions.
Students in the Spring 2018 senior news capstone class at the University of North Texas’ Mayborn School of Journalism set out to learn what the city’s plan might mean – for local air quality, for Texas energy and for Denton’s progressive image.
The students worked under the direction of Mayborn lecturer – and Texas Climate News senior editor – Randy Lee Loftis. The students: Matt Berger, Jake Cramer, Andrea Czobor, Avery Dufilho, Julia Falcon, Brady Keane, Bethany LaChance, Brianna Lopez, Clay Massey, Colin Mitchell, Julian D. Perry, Alexandria Reeves, Derek Siler, and Desmond Smith.
“Greening Denton” is a four-part series of text, video and audio reports that presents what they found. This third installment includes two podcasts.
The first one presented here comprises excerpts of two longer podcasts produced by the student journalists. It includes discussions about hydraulic fracturing, the process for oil and gas drilling better known as fracking, and the lingering role of coal, most polluting of the fossil fuels, in Denton’s planned transition to renewable power sources.
In the second podcast below, students discussed technological and economic developments in battery-based storage of electricity and their potential for a broader shift away from fossil fuels.
Links to related articles are provided below each podcast for further exploration of the issues that were discussed.
Denton Record Chronicle: Denton to keep buying coal-fired power this summer
Bloomberg News: The battery will kill fossil fuels – it’s only a matter of time