Energy and Environment at The Texas Tribune Festival

We'll be liveblogging throughout the weekend from The Texas Tribune Festival's energy and environment track — which includes panels on the coming crisis over water, big oil and national security, the Environmental Protection Agency's testy relationship with Texas, and whether green energy is an oxymoron.

Featured speakers include U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro, BP Capital Chairman T. Boone Pickens and Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson.  

Follow us here for updates from the University of Texas campus. 

 

Liveblog

by Kate Galbraith
Energy Keynote - Sen. John Cornyn Starting...
by Kate Galbraith
After a welcome from UT President Bill Powers and Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith, Sen. John Cornyn is starting to speak.
by Kate Galbraith
Cornyn: "Unfortunately we've seen a proliferation of regulations and studies in Washington...promulgated without input from stakeholders, frankly without regard to investigation of the facts on the ground, without analysis of the cost and benefit of regulation..."

He says the underlying theme of his remarks today is:"Are Texas jobs the next endangered species?"
by Kate Galbraith
Cornyn: "Texans love the land, so we've made it a priority to protect it."
by Kate Galbraith
Cornyn: "Our environment today is better because of good public policies, because of stewardship, and because of a right approach to energy development."
by Kate Galbraith
Cornyn: "The more energy we produce in America, the less dependent we are... on other sources."
by Kate Galbraith
Cornyn: "We don't need Washington to tell us how to regulate our oil and gas industry...Frankly our state regulators have a lot more experience in this area than the folks in Washington DC."...(cites EPA chief Lisa Jackson saying no case of contaminated drinking water from fracking)....
by Kate Galbraith
Cornyn says that Washington "frankly in my opinion have treated our state poorly"; starts talking about the West Texas lizard that may get listed as endangered.
by Kate Galbraith
Cornyn talks about "Washington's overreaction to the Deepwater Horizon tragedy," adding: "When there's a plane crash, we don't declare a moratorium on air travel."
by Kate Galbraith
Now Cornyn starts in on the cross-state pollution rule...says it was "frankly [a] power grab by the Environmental Protection Agency"
by Kate Galbraith
Cornyn has more fire for the cross-state rule: "The most, frankly, insulting thing about the way this rule has been imposed" was an "attempt, frankly, to deceive" Texans on when the rule takes effect (cites Jan 2012 or March 2013 confusion; he says one is when rule takes effect, the other is when compliance is measured)
by Kate Galbraith
Cornyn: "Frankly I think if Washington were more like Texas we'd be a...lot better off as a country."
by Kate Galbraith
Q&A begins; first question was about EPA; Cornyn responds: "What we want from EPA is to make decisions based on the facts and the science."

He says, with allusion to climate change: "Unfortunately in this area it seems like there are the believers on one side and the skeptics on the other side"
by Kate Galbraith
Cornyn on what energy sources to use: "I'm an all of the above kind of guy." Also said earlier: "I think solar power is a good thing."
by Kate Galbraith
Question about electric vehicles; Cornyn responds that his colleague Sen. Lamar Alexander (of Tennessee) drives an EV, but "My wife wouldn't allow me to buy one" because "she wonders about the range."
by Kate Galbraith
Cornyn mentions Pickens Plan and T. Boone Pickens' effort to get a tax incentive so more trucks switch to natural gas. Adds, though: "Rather than granting new tax credits, I think we're looking at eliminating them by and large."
by Kate Galbraith
Cornyn asked why Texas has done so well on economic development. Responds: "Taxes; regulation; free trade; right to work laws; tort reform have been components of what has made Texas a more successful economic model than the rest of the country."
by Kate Galbraith
Question on greenhouse gas emissions and the urgency of action. Cornyn replies: "Human beings have had an impact on our environment, I'm not going to argue that with you...I think the question is how urgent is that and whether it justifies the huge bureaucracy and federal government infrastructure that was proposed with the cap and trade bill that I think was ill-advised and would raise electricity costs" and be unnecessary. ...He cites concern about China and India not binding themselves to a similar regulatory regime, says regulations would make US "less competitive globally and frankly wouldn't solve the problem"..."There are to me much more urgent issues that we ought to be focused on. Certainly people of good will and good faith" could say that greenhouse gases ought to be one of them, but it's "not at the top of my list." What's at the top of his list? He cites the sovereign debt crisis, and adds: "I don't think we get the American economy growing again by imposing additional burdens on the private sector."
by Kate Galbraith
And the session is over.
by Ross Ramsey
State Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, is introducing his brother, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro.
by Ross Ramsey
Castro (Julian from here on, unless I make a note) has high praise for the Trib's first festival (thanks!) and jumps into his talk about San Antonio and energy.
by Ross Ramsey
He compares San Antonio's role today in "the new energy economy" is still forming, and that his city could take advantage of that opening in the same way that Silicon Valley grabbed software and that Austin and San Diego have grabbed biotech.
by Ross Ramsey
So he's making the pitch for San Antonio as the city that will lead in energy technology. Start with a digression about SA in general; its history as a tourist center, as a military center (until the 1995 BRAC round). He says the city had a reputation as nice and charming but not as an economic engine.
by Ross Ramsey
The opportunity spectrum had not been expanded in the way that you would have expected for the seventh largest city in the U.S.

Flip to now: Biosciences, cancer research... He's talking about SA2020, the idea of which was to "dream about the city's future."
by Ross Ramsey
We're creating in San Antonio a brain power community that is the liveliest in the country.
by Ross Ramsey
San Antonio has a dropout rate that approaches 40 percent.... We are keenly focused on improving those outcomes. And we're focused on economic development... in biosciences and health care, information security, and in aerospace.
by Ross Ramsey
The fourth sector is the new energy economy. We want to become America's leader in the new energy economy.

Says the city starts with assets. Sun. The largest municipal utility in the United States. He says CPS Energy has "a unique opportunity" to impact energy development, since it owns its own generation resources.
by Ross Ramsey
Says CPS and UT-San Antonio are working together on R&D through the Texas Sustainable Energy Research Institute.
by Ross Ramsey
CPS is already the largest purchaser of wind power among municipal utilities, and is on the verge of becoming the leader in solar power. He talks about the utility's conservation measures — weatherization, etc. — that create jobs and cut electric bills.
by Ross Ramsey
Says the utility allows the city to lever its energy efforts, and to integrate that with its economic development efforts.
by Ross Ramsey
The goal of all of this — he's been listing economic development deals — is to change the game, to make us more environmentally friendly and to keep rates low.

He says the city has to ready itself: "The question is not whether the EPA will impose restrictions on utilities. The question is when."

He says he wants the city to be a leader and not to be one of the last, scrambling to meet the new regulations.
by Ross Ramsey
He calls the Eagle Ford shale play one of the biggest economic developments in South Texas history.
by Ross Ramsey
He says the city has a long way to go. He says Houston and Austin are both ahead of it.
by Ross Ramsey
He says the city now has about 13,000 green jobs, and ranked 38th in that regard (Dallas and Houston were in the top ten). But we're making the right moves, he says.
by Ross Ramsey
He's done, opening up for questions....

First one: Do you think Austin and San Antonio should be together in this?

Castro: Jumps to research at UT-Austin and says it and UTSA could work together. Says Austin has focused on small solar, SA on "community-scale" projects.
by Ross Ramsey
Pulls in San Marcos and says the entire corridor could be the clean energy center of the United States.
by Ross Ramsey
Asked about the interaction of clean air attainment and the city's energy needs and developments, he says "it has crossed the radar screen" and says CPS is trying to reduce CO2 numbers by 20 percent.
by Ross Ramsey
Asked about job training, he points to Alamo Colleges and says they've been doing classes on green jobs, generally with people who dropped out of high school or those who did graduate but didn't go on to college.
by Ross Ramsey
He's got a question about mass transit between San Antonio and Austin (get a mayor and the questions will go to other topics, right?). He says he wants to see a Lone Star Rail system in place, linking students in the colleges along that corridor as well as the work force.
by Ross Ramsey
He suggests fast commuter rail, using some of the federal money that other states have turned down. He says he made that case — "I don't think it did that much good" — but says he's still working on it.
by Ross Ramsey
He's asked about the regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency, and to contrast what he thinks with what Sen. Cornyn said earlier this morning.

"I would say that Sen. Cornyn and I agree, at least on a couple of things."

He says that some regulations are reasonable and ought to be phased in, so that people should not be blind-sided or surprised. "But I do believe that there is always going to be some form of the EPA, that people want clean water and clean air in the country."
by Ross Ramsey
Says EPA isn't intractable, that the agency worked with San Antonio on clean air restrictions. SA was close to non-attainment of clean air standards, he says, and worked out a new deal with EPA to stay out of that class.
by Ross Ramsey
In San Antonio, we're going to find ways to work with the EPA in good faith.
by Ross Ramsey
What often does not go high-lighted enough is that municipal utilities have lower rates than the private utilities. He says the utility's profits cover almost a third of the city's budget. So why, he says, would they want to make it a competitive market?
by Ross Ramsey
He then says that the competition for generation is already there. "I do see some of that happening."
by Ross Ramsey
And he's done!
by Ryan Murphy
Next up!

Saturday 11:30AM - The Coming Crisis Over Water

Allen Ritter, State Representative, R-Nederland
Tom Mason, Former General Manager, Lower Colorado River Authority
Andrew Sansom, Executive Director, River Systems Institute
Laura Huffman, Executive Director, The Nature Conservancy of Texas
by Ryan Murphy
Kate Galbraith, moderator for this afternoon's panel, is up doing introductions of the panelists.
by Ryan Murphy
First up is the subject on everyone's mind, the drought. How bad is the drought, and how bad can it get?
by Ryan Murphy
Ritter starts: "The drought is real, we have multiple counties on watch lists, it's serious."

Not sure if this will be the next drought of record, but we are getting closer and closer.

"How long is it going to be? Only the Lord knows."
by Ryan Murphy
Sansom: "Although we don't know how this will be, there are some significant differences" between this drought and the drought of record. He says that many people live in urban areas now (compared to the 50s), so the perception of the drought is very different. He points out that there are many more wells in the ground now than we saw in the past.
by Ryan Murphy
Huffman: There are more people living in the state now than in the 50s, leading to more "straws" in the water.
by Ryan Murphy
Mason: He says that recent studies that look at tree rings have shown that droughts have lasted 30-40 years in the past at Central and West Texas, and it's difficult to look at the 50s drought as the go-to standard.
by Ryan Murphy
Next question: The droughts of the past of lead to changes in water conservation, how could the current one affect it?
by Ryan Murphy
Mason says the only good thing about this drought may be the needed push to go forward with a comprehensive water plan. He says that it may take people running out of water to build the political will needed to make this happen.
by Ryan Murphy
Sansom: We will double our population in Texas by 2060, and we have already given permission to draw more water from the ground than we have to maintain those numbers.
by Ryan Murphy
Sansom: We will double our population in Texas by 2060, and we have already given permission to draw more water from the ground than we have to maintain those numbers.
by Ryan Murphy
Sansom: "We have to find a way to broaden the understanding of the situation we are facing."
by Ryan Murphy
Ritter: "This drought is in some ways of a blessing for those of us trying to solve the problem in Texas... the longer it goes, the worse it gets."

Ritter says that everything at the capitol is about money. He says that when his constituents tell him to not spend any more money, he listens. He says that it is up to us (the people) to make it known that a water plan needs to be done.
by Ryan Murphy
Ritter: Look back in history, at the drought in the 50s. Mentions his father, who didn't have a "farm or a sheep" in the 50s. They found a way to build reservoirs, to move forward with water conservation.
by Ryan Murphy
Huffman: $53 billion dollars in unfunded projects. Nearly a quarter of our future water supply is scheduled to come from "water conservation." You have a population that's going up, a water supply going down, and the water conservation plans we have in place must become more robust if they are to succeed.
by Ryan Murphy
Huffman: Referring to low flow toiliets - "We are not going to get to a 24% reduction in water use through bathroom fixtures."
by Ryan Murphy
Huffman: 60% of our water use is in agriculture, we must cut down on every drop of waste.
by Ryan Murphy
Mason: People can get by with dramatically less amounts of water than we use in Texas, it's done in other countries much cheaper.
by Ryan Murphy
Mason: All Texans have to agree that we are in this together. We are going to have to pay more for it, and we have to change our behavior.
by Ryan Murphy
Is there a role for the state to play in mandating conservation?
by Ryan Murphy
Ritter: "We are a great state, but in some ways we are strange... sometimes things have to get real ugly before the head of the snake is cut off."

We need to work from the ground up, all the way from the capitol. Beaumont, Port Arthur has a lot of leaky pipes, they know they have to fix them. Everything water is slow moving, nothing happens fast. The state will be ready to step in when it needs to step in. Mandating is an ugly word that we do all the time.
by Ryan Murphy
Sansom: Bringing up the Blanco River, virtually all the water ends back up in the aquifer, goes through Jacob's Well and loops back. If you wanted to pull money out of the river, it's nearly impossible. But if you want to tap the Well, it's easy. We act like the water is different because it's in a different place.
by Ryan Murphy
Huffman: For local utilities to get access to state money, they should have to show that they are doing things to promote conservation.
by Ryan Murphy
Ritter: All of us geographically have to work together to make this happen.
by Ryan Murphy
Sansom: Efforts to reach out can be much broader. All the water sheds in Texas are on private property, but we are doing nothing to make sure that those water sheds are being protected. We got to find find ways to protect water on private property.
by Ryan Murphy
Ritter: In the draft, one of the proposals is to encourage the building of aquifers and new reservoirs. We have to build new reservoirs, but that is a long term project. We need to have that land qualified as part of the new water plan, it's a good management strategy. We need to make the process quicker, but without stepping on the toes of the regulatory boards that conduct reviews, but the timeline has taken forever.
by Ryan Murphy
Mason: He says that reservoir development typically takes the use of private land, desalinization is another option.

"Yes, desalinization is expensive, but does that matter if you have no water?"
by Ryan Murphy
Question: What's going to happen if we don't make these changes and don't come up with $60 billion in funding?
by Ryan Murphy
Huffman: "If you don't plan ahead for water, it simply isn't there."

She mentions the movement of corporations, who look for water supplies that are secure.
by Ryan Murphy
Ritter: "As you go farther [into the water situation], what's going to happen to society?"
by Ryan Murphy
Sansom says the water situation could bring irrevocable damage to the environment. We have looked at the rivers in the state, and the "jury is still out" on whether there will still be water flowing once we finish meeting the state's needs.
by Ryan Murphy
Huffman: "The truth is that Texan's feel very strongly about their natural resources." We need a strong voice coming forward.

Sansom adds: What can I as a Texan do? Take a kid fishing, take them swimming in a stream, encourage them to take responsibility for the resources they use.
by Ryan Murphy
Ritter: We have to be good stewards of our environments. Everything involving water moves slow, and you have to be patient, but we can manage this with "sound science, good management practices and thinking out of the box."
by Ryan Murphy
Ritter cont.: Do not close your eyes to this issue, "I'd rather pay my $100 per year to handle this situation, than to pass on the worst situation this country has ever seen."
by Ryan Murphy
Mason: Speaking on the rice farmers on the Colorado River, who have been there since rice farming began in the state. But economically it is said that it would be better to develop those locations into recreational areas. Who's entitled to the water?
by Ryan Murphy
Question from audience: What's the condition of estuaries?

Huffman: As population goes up and water availability goes down, water pollution also rises. In San Antonio funds have been used to protect recharge zones where people rely on the water to function.
by Ryan Murphy
Sansom: Texas probably has the finest system of estuaries next to Florida, but they rely on enough clean water flowing in. We have to ensure this happens.
by Ryan Murphy
Comment from the audience brings up how water has become a political issue.

Ritter: "Sir, we are in Texas, we have to do everything we can as we the people and stand up and support our elected officials."

I do what my people say, and they say "save my money." But you have to show the value of what you can get for the money.
by Ryan Murphy
Question: Water conservation needs money. How are any changes going to happen if the money does not come out people's paychecks?

Ritter: "It's going to happen when it doesn't come out of the tap."

Mason: We have become used to really cheap water, and that has to change.
by Ryan Murphy
Last comment by Mason: "Despite all the doom and gloom, on the optimistic side, we are one day closer to rain."

That's it folks.
by Ross Ramsey
John Ellis is introducing his panel on an energy plan for Texas. Jerry Patterson, the state's land commissioner, is first up. He says wind power is nearly economic (and will be when natural gas prices fall).
by Ross Ramsey
Patterson says it will help to have the infrastructure to deliver wind power will help. Wind, oil & gas and infrastructure, he says, are the three key components of an energy plan for the state.
by Ross Ramsey
Barry Smitherman, who recently left the Public Utility Commission and is now on the Texas Railroad Commission, is next in line; he says the innovation in the oil and gas patch lives up to the hyperboles that might make him sound like a Texan bragging on the energy business.
by Ross Ramsey
Globally, if we take this fracking technology and our companies take this to Europe and China and others, they can become more self-dependent for energy needs and wean themselves away from getting Oil from hostile sources.
by Ross Ramsey
Now it's Rep. Jim Keffer, R-Eastland, talking about the legislative environment for energy. He reminds the audience that 20 years ago, everyone was warning that oil and gas was dead. "It's never been more active or better for this economy."
by Ross Ramsey
"I am very pro-fossil fuel," he says, adding that wind and solar and nuclear are also important parts of the puzzle.
by Ross Ramsey
He says wind won't be a full solution until better batteries come around. He points at research at Texas Tech and elsewhere, but says the storage for wind-generated electricity isn't there yet.
by Ross Ramsey
Patterson's mic went out. Dead battery. Not kidding.
by Ross Ramsey
Smitherman: I had some guys in my office the other day wanting to show me a new way to frack.
by Ross Ramsey
Keffer: I've never seen an industry at all levels creating the jobs that the oil and gas industry is creating... When there's an oil and gas find, everybody prospers. It has to be regulated, yes. Are there bad players? Yes. But I think we can handle our business very well in this state and I think we've shown that in the last eight years.
by Ross Ramsey
They're talking about oil production in the Gulf. Patterson says low natural gas prices have dampened that activity. Smitherman points at California as an example, he says, of regulating the oil industry out of the offshore business. Patterson says the most optimistic predictions are that we'll be using oil and gas for cars and other uses for the next 40 years. Keffer says regulating and taxing one form of energy to make another form attractive is "evil".
by Ross Ramsey
Keffer is talking about shutting down coal-fired generation is a bad idea especially if, for instance, we have another summer next year like the one we just had.
by Ross Ramsey
Patterson is talking about the Dune Sagebrush Lizard being proposed for the endangered species list. He says there's no science behind that. Says, getting a laugh, that he's referred to this as "reptile dysfunction." More to the point, he says, is that the lizard is in the Permian Basin in Texas and New Mexico. "We have species that come and go, and that was the case long before we were after oil and gas."

Smitherman says the feral hog is one of the lizard's main predators and says killing feral hogs might help.
by Ross Ramsey
Keffer: Let economics play a part in the final analysis of where you want to go... We can't ruin the economy trying to get to someplace ten years out.
by Ross Ramsey
Patterson says businesses have fled California because of renewable energy standards set too high.
by Ross Ramsey
Patterson doesn't mind California doing that but doesn't want a federal standard. "If they're going to screw it up, let them screw it up. But I don't want the federal government setting RES."
by Ross Ramsey
The first question begins with a report on the score of the Texas A&M game. 17-3, with Oklahoma State losing.
by Ross Ramsey
Smitherman says we lost an entire generation of nuclear power plants. I'm not sure we're going to get that back. In the oil and gas world, he says, it's self-correcting. When markets are good, the incoming college kids are attracted.
by Ross Ramsey
We're a graying society in the power sector, Smitherman says. He says the average operator in the private sector is 57 years old.
by Ross Ramsey
Question: What's it going to take to get geothermal going in Texas? Patterson: Good question. Says they're working on it and "we're on the cusp of putting geothermal in the grid".
by Ross Ramsey
The beauty of our system is that you don't need approval to do it, Smitherman says.
by Ross Ramsey
Patterson says he hears a lot of "government shouldn't be picking winners and losers". I'm okay with that, but he points at incentives given the fossil fuel industry.
by Ross Ramsey
Smitherman says all of the policy from the Obama administration is the elimination of carbon. He says it should be eliminating energy independence.
by Ross Ramsey
Keffer: Everything is part of the puzzle. We're not trying to say wind will never be there, or solar, or clean coal... I just have to come back, though, to what the cost is going to be to the consumer, to the manufacturer... It's hard to say that natural gas won't be the fuel of the future, at least the fuel of the near future.

by Ross Ramsey
And that's all (for this panel), folks!
by Ryan Murphy
Next up:

Sunday 10:15AM - Big Oil and National Security

Amy Myers Jaffe
Directory of the Energy Forum at the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University
by Ryan Murphy
Jaffe starts with a question: "How many of you came to the session in a car?"

She says there is a tendency to have this debate without remembering that you drive.
by Ryan Murphy
Jaffe: When you are thinking about the path moving forward, you have to keep the infrastructure in mind. You would have to get rid of the 2 billion oil driven cars, to try and change the current situation.
by Ryan Murphy
Jaffe: We use a wide variety of fuels in the US, a large part of that is coal, and it's important to keep that in mind when looking at the geopolitics of the future.
by Ryan Murphy
Jaffe: One has to think about what are the social/cultural affects of where we get access to oil, and look at what led to the Arab Spring.
by Ryan Murphy
Jaffe: Throughout the Middle East, the median age are in the low to mid 20s, the person that set himself on fire in Tunisia did not have a job. You have to sympathize with a person that would set them self on fire in distraught for the lack of a job.
by Ryan Murphy
Jaffe: In the case of Saudi Arabia, the situation is more serious. The king is in his 80s, and he just had a surgery for an aneurism and almost died. The reason the county has been without a oil policy is because the decision maker has been preoccupied.
by Ryan Murphy
Jaffe: You have everyone in their 80s that are in control and could die soon, and they put their sons into high ranking positions so their families can keep control. What is their role?
by Ryan Murphy
Jaffe: The Saudis have this very difficult balance to manage. They have to satisfy the needs of this population that is producing the oil... it is going to be very difficult to promote political reform, this is a very tricky situation.
by Ryan Murphy
Jaffe: There is the question, as these countries go through these political transitions, what is going to happen to their ability to produce oil?
by Ryan Murphy
Jaffe: Regime changes, even if they are good regime changes, can lead to changes in oil production.
by Ryan Murphy
Jaffe: In the small window of democracy in Russia, oil production fell from 12 million barrels a day to 5 million barrels a day. Democracy is inherently a good thing, but it can lead to changes in production.
by Ryan Murphy
Jaffe: In 1988, the five largest oil companies in the US were spending about $6 billion in exploration, and that stayed relatively flat until 2006, where it went up to $8.5 billion.
by Ryan Murphy
Jaffe: The idea that we are not going to be able to use this 2 billion cars, because we can't use what we have under the ground, is simply not true.
by Ryan Murphy
Jaffe: We continue hearing that we have drilled everywhere we can except for Alaska and that we have ran out of places, but the oil companies are able to produce oil from the same shale that we produce natural gas, thanks to new commercial technologies.
by Ryan Murphy
Jaffe: If you add all the numbers up, if we are going to have 2 or 3 million barrels a day from the shale, and a new 2 to 3 barrels a day from deep water, and then produce the heavy oil, we could produce almost 14 billion barrels a day in the US.
by Ryan Murphy
Jaffe: If we develop these technologies, where we develop ways to do this drilling in ways that do not harm our water, these technologies could be exportable to China and other countries. The bottom line is, we are having a renaissance here in the US in the oil and gas energy, but the reality is, you all came here in a car, and it is a car that runs on oil.
by Ryan Murphy
Jaffe: Until we get to a world where we can rely on renewable energy, and I believe it is coming, you are still going to want to put oil in your car.
by Ryan Murphy
Jaffe: If we insist that people have best practices, that our state legislatures and national legislatures insist on the use of improved technologies, we can improve the oil industry.
by Ryan Murphy
"In shale gas, the potential is unbelievable."

She says they used super computer to simulate the world's energy economy, and set up a scenario where Russia cuts off Germany. She says the simulation showed that in 5 to 10 years that the Europe would develop the ability to transport natural gas by ship, and Russia freaked out, asked for 25 copies of the study.
by Ryan Murphy
Jaffe says that with every source of energy that we have, it has a footprint. She says that the question is not to ask what we should not use, but how we can mitigate the impact and footprint of the sources that we need.
by Ryan Murphy
She says that we have the technology to turn off fracking water in five minutes if it is detected to be infiltrating fresh water, instead of finding out months later. She says we are the only ones that have that technology, not China or Russia.
by Ryan Murphy
Question time: How do we insert this information into the political discussion?

Jaffe: When I first came to the Baker Institute, I thought it was my job to go to Congress, but I realized that was not effective. Even if I could show legislatures the differences between natural gas and oil, and show them fact-based science, that does not help me. I can bring 15 studies, and they will pick the one that helps them the most. I have realized that the elected officials are just as informed as I am, but it is the voters that are not.
by Ryan Murphy
"I am actually in favor of the gasoline tax."
by Ryan Murphy
Next question: Could you overlay the geopolitics of water and energy in this country?

Jaffe: I still see it as a question of technology. Water is definitely going to be a constraint of where we do shale fracking. China also has difficulties, but it's due to water scarcity. The industries are increasingly using recycled water, reclaiming the water and cleaning it so it can be used for the next fracking. I believe the industry will be able to do it. The most important thing to think about is the cost of electricity. It's not that there is something we technologically can do, it's the cost.
by Ryan Murphy
Jaffe brings up Gov. Perry, who recently said that it is our job to educate our children, not to due research. She says she thinks that is ridiculous, and that thinking along those lines is the way the Chinese will surpass us.
by Ryan Murphy
Jaffe: Regulation is not the problem in the industry, unsound regulation is the problem.

--

And that's it folks.
by Kate Galbraith
The EPA Vs Texas Starting...
by Kate Galbraith
Mark Miller, Trib editor and moderator, begins with question on air pollution: "Things are good, or not?"

shaw: we have been making progress. But there is still progress to be made.
by Kate Galbraith
Discussion is about significant reduction of air pollution in TX.
by Kate Galbraith
Shaw: need for good air while also needing to maintain a strong economy

Marston: The air is better all over the country. Numbers state has used to claim its great benefits are selective use of statistics....The numbers are better but not nearly as good as the state claims. Credits federal government -- standards, etc -- with reductions. Yes, the air is better and thank goodness it is, but it's not because of what's been done by state of Texas.
by Kate Galbraith
Smitty: Economic benefits of reducing air pollution outweigh costs of adding pollution controls by a factor of 6 or 8 to 1.
by Kate Galbraith
Shaw (asked about relationship w/EPA): We interact quite frequently, sometimes more successfully than others...Certainly federal government sets standards that we're working to attain...certainly federal government plays a role at cleaner-burning engines...60% of the problem is a source you can't control (vehicle emissions -- which feds have standards for). BUT cites success of TERP program - TX Emissions Reductions program (reducing diesel emissions from trucks etc). EPA relationship "has been somewhat strained of late." Current EPA admin does not seem to be following own rules for allowing (state engagement)...Praises flexible permits program.
by Kate Galbraith
Shaw (on flex permits): EPA criticisms of this permit are not correct...
by Kate Galbraith
Marston: Texas air is dirtier because state did not follow California vehicle emissions standard...Cites Texas lawsuit.
"I'm sorry we are the problem not the solution."
by Kate Galbraith
Shaw and Marston going at it over flex permits.

Trip Doggett sitting quiet on the side; hasn't said anything yet...
by Kate Galbraith
Marston: When EPA cracked down on flex permits, not one job was lost; not one company shut down...This is crying wolf...

Shaw responds: EPA found a path for them to get out...We went forward and modified this program...Had we done nothing plants would have closed down.
by Kate Galbraith
Smitty: Time and time again you see Texas bending over backwards to allow things to be permitted before new federal rules are in place.
by Kate Galbraith
Shaw again defends flex permits; says EPA could not show that plants were emitting more than they should have been....
by Kate Galbraith
Doggett (talking about cross-state rule): "The implementation timeline is a major challenge...I'm not a very dramatic person, so I try to interact with EPA to express ERCOT's significant concerns about the rule..."We've got to find a way to change that implementation date." There will be challenges not just in Texas, but there are also concerns about it in Southwest Power Pool.
by Kate Galbraith
Shaw on cross-state rule -- talking about confusion on cross-state timeline (Jan 2012 or March 2013) -- if March 2013 (as EPA has recently emphasized), it's similar to saying I don't have to pay my taxes until April next year, so I don't have to worry about paying taxes now.
by Kate Galbraith
Shaw (re deadline confusion): Warns that plant operators face large fines, even potential jail time if they don't adhere to cross-state rule deadlines
by Kate Galbraith
Smitty & Shaw discussing addition of Texas sulfur dioxide emissions. Smitty says EPA did that after seeing document submissions from TX, including from TCEQ, which changed the situation.

Shaw: We haven't seen modeling to see if EPA has errors there; they had errors elsewhere.

Marston: Most utilities in this state...said they'd better plan ahead (for cross-state type rule).

Shaw: It's a competitive market; hard to know what investments to make.

Smitty: If we continue to fight, we're never going to get these things cleaned up...What we have is a company that bet wrong. (Appears to be referring to Luminant.)...

Smitty continues, gets applause - first applause of the panel.

Shaw: Again says it was hard to know to invest...."It's impossible to know how to invest, and if you guess wrong" and are impact by another part of a rule, then it costs more.
by Kate Galbraith
Doggett (asked if he thinks cross-state rule will cause outages): I do, if we had the same summer as we had this summer, next summer...and the results of this rule are what we predict, we will have rotating outages.

Marston: We have heated the planet...
by Kate Galbraith
Shaw has said earlier that he believe in global warming...BUT it's unclear how much and if manmade contributions are having on global climate change...

Shaw: Do you know what main greenhouse gas is? It's not CO2, it's water...

Shaw: Greenhouse gases don't care if they're emitted in Texas or China....(issue of us being less competitive)
by Kate Galbraith
Marston: What states win in a carbon-constrained world? States that have a lot of natural gas. States that have a lot of solar. states that have a lot of wind...(It's Texas!)

Smitty: Texas is #1 in greenhouse gas emissions...we are #7 in the world if we are a nation and made the choice to secede.
by Kate Galbraith
Smitty chimes in for solar.
by Kate Galbraith
Applause for Smitty on solar.
by Kate Galbraith
Question time! First question is about keeping the lights on.
by Kate Galbraith
Doggett takes question, responds about cause of February rolling blackouts when extreme cold knocked out power plants: Most of the items that froze were instrumentation..We analyzed the age of facilities and saw very little difference....
by Kate Galbraith
Marston: 8200 new MW are in final stages of interconnection agreements...We've got a lot of new wind coming on (& some new gas)

Doggett: I wish we had more...Ones with interconnection agreements are just barely enough to keep up with our load growth.
by Kate Galbraith
Shaw (answering a different question): I want an approach so energy is not so costly that it sends businesses overseas.
by Kate Galbraith
And it's over!
by Ross Ramsey
Evan is introducing T. Boone Pickens in a pretty crowded room. Good turnout.
by Ross Ramsey
Evan says Pickens has given away $700 million in his lifetime. "I could really use a couple of hundred million of that back," Pickens says.

Some of that money went to The Texas Tribune, Evan says, in the interest of full disclosure.
by Ross Ramsey
The first question for Pickens? College football.

by Ross Ramsey
Pickens: Who is to blame? The conference is unequal, the big 12, you all know that. It was set up wrong. It was kind of like Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs. It took nine votes to change anything, with four schools — Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Nebraska — and nothing would change. Now you have the Longhorn Network...
by Ross Ramsey
He says he's for Texas doing what it wants, if they're independent. "I still think the Aggies are going to quit," he says. "When the Aggies sober up," he says, they'll move to the SEC. And then he says he'd love to recruit against them.
by Ross Ramsey
He says even college kids want to play in places where their families can see them play, and that'll help the schools left behind.
by Ross Ramsey
Pickens: I have seen over the years that everyone who runs for president says 'Elect me, and I'll make us energy independent.' ... Not one of them did one thing. Now we have a president who said that in ten years we won't be importing oil from the Mideast. Here we are three years later, and we've done nothing. I haven't got anybody to ask him (Obama) whether he's got a plan to get us off that oil.
by Ross Ramsey
Pickens: I can tell you George W. Bush did zero, too... The message is real simple. We have to get our own resources... We have plenty of resources in America.
by Ross Ramsey
He says there's a tax break bill that would switch trucks over to natural gas from diesel. Natural gas is cleaner, abundant, and domestic... If we don't take advantage of what's available to us, we'll honest go down as the dumbest crowd ever.
by Ross Ramsey
He says that would get rid of the portion of oil the U.S. imports from OPEC countries.
by Ross Ramsey
Evan: Would you personally benefit?

Pickens: Well, I own companies and stock in companies... if the prices went up, I'd benefit. He says he's no longer "a big natural gas producer."
by Ross Ramsey
Pickens says he has spent $80 million promoting clean energy. Why? "I decided this was my mission."

"I thought my pitch was so simple. It was abundant, it was cheap, and it was clean. Now who couldn't sell that?"
by Ross Ramsey
He says he's signed up 1.7 million people. "Now, I don't know how far they'll follow me," he says. But the idea is that enough support would influence the people running for office next year, and then there might be an energy plan. He says he suggested an executive order saying the government shouldn't buy any vehicles unless they run on domestic resources, whatever those resources are.
by Ross Ramsey
Pickens says the president could also suggest that people only buy vehicles that run on domestic fuel. It wouldn't be a mandate, he says, but would model behavior as parents influence their kids. "We're financing both sides of a war right now," he says. "When you buy Saudi oil, some of that money is going to the Taliban."
by Ross Ramsey
He has a Honda Civic powered by natural gas and says that's the only production car available in the U.S. that runs on natural gas. If you were in France, by comparison, Pickens says you'd have 40 choices.
by Ross Ramsey
I'm trying to move it through the heavy duty (trucks) and when you move it through heavy duty, the gas stations will have it.
by Ross Ramsey
California is ahead, with 1,500 stations that sell natural gas for vehicles. It developed there because of air quality issues.
by Ross Ramsey
We do have air quality issues in Texas. It would help, no question. We have plenty of resources in this country, but we've never had a president who said, let's get on those resources.
by Ross Ramsey
He says the legislation he's been talking about would create 100,000 direct jobs and 300,000 indirect jobs.
by Ross Ramsey
It came up in Washington and then they went on break: "I swear to God, if you say recess in Washington, you can empty that city in 30 minutes." They had hearings, finally, last year.
by Ross Ramsey
He says Gov. Perry has not promised him anything, but said he thinks the governor agrees with him on energy.

Asked to handicap the next race, he says, "I don't think Obama can win. I don't."

by Ross Ramsey
Evan's throwing it open for questions. First up: If the numbers for nat gas over gasoline are so good, why do you need Washington to do it? Pickens says Washington would make it happen faster, but, "Either way, you're going to get there." He says the numbers make the idea very, very interesting to the trucking industry.
by Ross Ramsey
He says 20 percent of the trucks could be switched over by 2012... says if you take one trash truck off the road that it's equivalent to taking 325 cars off the road. Now, in that part of Southern California, they've switched over 70 percent of those trucks.
by Ross Ramsey
Next question is on power generation. Wind is dead in the water, almost. It's priced off the margin, and the margin is natural gas. And gas is go cheap, at $4, that wind won't work. It works at $6.
by Ross Ramsey
What do you say to the people who don't want power lines across their property: "Well, hell, let's just don't have any power." Everybody's entitled to their opinion, but you have to figure out how many they represent.
by Ross Ramsey
"It is America, and if you want turbines on your property, I'm inclined to go with you instead of your neighbor."
by Ross Ramsey
A question about fracking. "That, to me, has been blown totally out of proportion." He says he first saw fracking in 1953 and says he's done a lot of it. "I have no record of damaging any aquifer in any well that I've fracked." If you cement your casing to take care of the aquifer, you've taken care of it. Then he talks about horizontal fracking, and now we're talking about water. You flow that back, and you don't get all of it, but most of it comes back to you. He says they're developing closed systems and getting the water back and using it again.
by Ross Ramsey
He says that the environmental concerns have been blown way out of proportion.
by Ross Ramsey
He says there are 13 million natural gas vehicles in the world, and 130,000 in the U.S. "Either we have the best idea or somebody else has a better one."
by Ross Ramsey
There's no question that the tax system has favored things from time to time, but there's no question that some of the things they've favored have been good. He says the country ought to redo its tax system, but it says it's not a good idea to just get rid of incentives for the oil and gas industry.

"I think taxes are a high-class problem: If you're paying taxes, you're making money."
by Ross Ramsey
Do you support the Buffet plan? "I should pay my fair share. I want to know what fair is."
by Ross Ramsey
Question is about a wind deal that Austin Electric got on the coast for a competitive price. Pickens says it sounds like they got a good deal. "I'm from West Texas. I can promise you the wind blows all the time."

"The whole thing is, be realistic about the energy sources."

by Ross Ramsey
And they're done!
by Kate Galbraith
How Green is My City Starting...
by Kate Galbraith
Lucia Athens, Chief Sustainability Officer of Austin, on defining sustainability: Fundamentally it's the triple bottom line -- economic, environmental, and social...
by Kate Galbraith
Laura Spanjian, sustainability director of Houston: You're trying to protect resources when talking about sustainability...You can actually have a healthy economy and also protect the environment and also have a vibrant social culture. I feel like that should be my job - our job -- to tell that story.
by Kate Galbraith
Chris Lash, renewable resources manager for McAllen: For me, the task lies in educating the public on what sustainability means...In the end, it saves us all a lot of money.
by Kate Galbraith
Katherine Barnett-White, sustainability administrator, city of Denton: Right now Denton is going through a sustainability planning process.
by Kate Galbraith
Barnett-White: We provide 40% wind power to the community...with no rate increase. It's a city-owned utility....We have a very robust energy audit and rebate program...Denton has a pharmaceutical take-back program. Landfill methane to energy.
by Kate Galbraith
Lash: McAllen population 130,000; international metro area population probably 1.2 million. In the metro area McAllen is the only place with curbside recycling...also the only one to offer composting. We have worked to educate city hall workers and do retrofit. "We have a shut-off system where we shut off everything at the weekends."..And again, this is just to educate. The hope is that folks in city hall take it back to their homes.
by Kate Galbraith
Spanjian: Perception of Houston is oil and gas capital of the world (or the universe, depending on your perspective)....It's a new century, we have to be "mindful of the environment."..The federal government has for the first time under Obama tried to look at social/environmental/economic issues together...They put out grants for cities to apply for. Houston got one...almost $4 million. People are thinking about new rail lines; more affordable housing; making the city more livable.
by Kate Galbraith
Spanjian: About 37% of our greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation. Building retrofits also important.
by Kate Galbraith
Spanjian: $23 million from stimulus program to weatherize homes. Dallas lost their money but we are going to spend all their money. We will save people money on their electric bills after they weatherize their homes.
by Kate Galbraith
Spanjian: Almost 375 participants in Houston's green office challenge...We just won the US Conference of Mayors climate protection award. Houston is 7th in country for # of LEED and Energy-Star buildings we have....on renewables -- Houston doesn't own its own utility, but Houston is largest municipal purchaser of renewables in country. 33% of energy we buy is from wind; looking at increasing that to 50%....We're expanding our rail system. Electric cars. NRG putting in 150 charging stations in Houston at their expense. We have another commitment from another group to put more charging stations by 2012...We're looking at compressed natural gas.
by Kate Galbraith
Athens: Austin proud of its work dating back to early 1990s on water-quality and habitat protection.
by Kate Galbraith
Athens: We have a very aggressive no-kill policy for our shelters, and I believe that's another aspect of sustainability...We're very excited South by Southwest is going to have an eco-conference. http://sxsweco.com/

Athens: At end of next year we'll be at 30% of renewables...We're getting good prices for wind right now, so maybe we can look at more -- like Houston.
by Kate Galbraith
Athens:: Austin will be analyzing urban rail -- next phase of urban rail. Goal includes having more walkable communities where people are more healthy...One of the big challenges is consciousness. We have a lot of big wake-up calls now...We have a lawn remodel program. "Basically we're encouraging people to let their grass die." -- Then when the rain comes again, people will be encouraged to plant a better adaptive lawn or native plants.
by Kate Galbraith
Athens: We're excited about Car-2-Go. "Get people out of their single-vehicle occupancy trips."....Also, "Imagine Austin" plan coming up. http://www.imagineaustin.net/
by Kate Galbraith
Lash: McAllen used to have 19 landfills, and they are being taken up. We now have 4 operable landfills....We're quickly using them up...By having good sustainability practices we can divert from the landfills.

Lash: It's important to look beyond McAllen. We have Rio Grande Valley Sustainability Council & Rio Grande Environmental Council. We are interfacing with councils from El Paso and Laredo.
by Kate Galbraith
Spanjian: In some ways sustainability involves looking backwards. Once, local food was the only option. Electric cars existed at the turn of the 20th century.

Spanjian: Much hinges on economics. There are people that cheer when gas gets really expensive...when that happens, it means that CNG and electric cars becomes more competitive. It's key to have those technologies ready to go for when people are ready.

Spanjian: "We don't have a good water conservation program in Houston." Contrast to California, where water conservation happens even without drought.
by Kate Galbraith
Athens on Austin: "I don't want sustainability means giving up things, giving up quality of life." It can actually improve quality of life -- and be fun.
by Kate Galbraith
Q&A starts
by Kate Galbraith
Athens, responding to a question about motivations other than economics: "A lot of people are motivated by what their neighbors are doing." Using social networking presents opportunities.

Spanjian, on same question: For Houston, I really do use the economic argument a lot. It resonates in Houston. Also, Houston is starting to attract young professionals, who want different things -- ie, wanting to bike, wanting open space, wanting to walk down sidewalks to small businesses. Houston will always have an oil and gas economy, but it wants other things now too.,.."Over the next five to 10 years, we can really transform our city."
by Kate Galbraith
Lash (same questions, on motivators): In the McAllen area, there are high rate of diabetes, cholesterol: so health is a bit motivator.

Barnett-White, of Denton, talks about a bicycle master-plan...people from Dallas coming up from Dallas to Denton and then getting on a bike.
by Kate Galbraith
Question: What great thing did you want to do but were unable to do.

Spanjian responds: It's more like what should be further along than it is. "For us, it's recycling." About 1/3 of our residents are on single-stream, a third are on dual-stream; 1/3 have nothing....Issue: No one pays a single-family garbage bill in Houston. The fact that we tried to raise some revenue for recycling, everyone freaked out. The other issue: Private sector runs it, so it's difficult for Houston to look at this holistically...We're looking at changing the whole paradigm of recycling...

Barnett-White: I wish we were further along with our community gardening.

Lash of McAllen: Big issue for us is recycling rate too; we want to improve it. Landfill fees are far cheaper than, say, in the Northwest. Also we want to do better at planting trees, especially those that need less water.
by Kate Galbraith
Athens on a question about working with developers: We're looking at a rewrite of the way we do our density bonus for downtown Austin. I'm a fan of having green building requirements with it....What I want to engage developers on is why we don't have many "deep-green" buildings in our cities..."I want to hear more dialogue about zero energy buildings. Zero water. Zero waste."
by Kate Galbraith
Lash: We're looking at walkable communities in McAllen....being able to walk to the supermarket. Being able to be near a bus line. We changed our bus routes and put bike racks on our buses, and our usage rate increased 23%.
by Kate Galbraith
Question about climate adaption. Spanjian: Adaptation should focus on our flooding issues in Houston....We also need to be thinking about the reverse - drought. Athens: We think that rather than having a climate adaptation plan, we need to incorporate climate adaptation into other, existing plans.
by Kate Galbraith
And we're done.

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