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Texans Oppose Dirty Coal-Fired Power Plants
SURVEY: FOUR OUT OF FIVE TEXANS OPPOSE GOVERNOR'S "FAST TRACKING" OF DIRTY COAL-FIRED POWER PLANTS
Dec 6, 2006
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Health, Environment/Global Warming Concerns Are Major Roadblocks to Public Support; Three Out of Four Texans Want Stepped-Up Conservation to Reduce Number of Plants.
AUSTIN, TX.///December 6, 2006///An overwhelming majority of Texas residents (81 percent) are not on board with Governor Rick Perry's controversial plan to "fast track" consideration of 12 or more new coal-fired power plants without first addressing the concerns raised by health and environmental experts about the added pollution generated by the new power plants, according to a major new Opinion Research Corporation (ORC) survey conducted for the Austin office of the nonprofit and nonpartisan Environmental Integrity Project (EIP).
The EIP poll made possible with support from the nonprofit Civil Society Institute shows:
- Just 14 percent of Texas adults favor fast-tracking the approval process for new coal-fired power plants, while more than four out of five state residents (81 percent) want the health and environmental concerns associated with any potential new power plants addressed first. Governor Perry's fast-tracking approach is favored by a slim 22 percent of Republicans, 13 percent of Independents and 8 percent of Democrats.
- Two-thirds of Texans oppose the new coal-fired power plants -including roughly half (47 percent) who say they do so "strongly". A weak 28 percent of Texas adults support the construction of more coal-fired power plants that would create new health and environmental problems in the state.
- Roughly three out of four Texas adults (74 percent) would prefer to see major conservation efforts undertaken in the state first in order to offset a major portion of the electricity that would be required from the proposed new coal-fired power plants.
Ilan Levin, counsel, Environment Integrity Project, Austin office, said: "The message here could not be any plainer: Fast tracking more dirty coal-fired power plants for Texas is opposed by nearly all Texans. Texans do not want to see the state short change the deliberate review that should take place of what would be very serious environmental and health downsides of these needlessly dirty power sources. To say that Governor Perry has no mandate from the public for his plan to rubber stamp these dirty power plants may be the understatement of the year."
Texas Ratepayers' Organization to Save Energy (Texas ROSE) Executive Director Carol Biedrzycki, said: "Energy efficiency could supplant one-third of Texas' power plants. It's reliable, it's clean and it lowers costs for consumers. For years, TXU and others claimed that electricity prices were too low and there was too much excess capacity to justify greater investments in energy efficiency. Now TXU's electricity prices are among the highest in the country and capacity shortages are possible. The decision to build more coal fired plants is a resource strategy that benefits TXU, not the consumer."
Dr. Lloyd Jeff Dumas, professor of economics and public policy, University of Texas at Dallas (UTD), said: "This survey shows that Texans understand what makes the most sense for the state: We are better off in terms of the economics, the environment and our own health if we explore conservation and alternative energy sources before turning back the technology clock in favor of dirty coal-fired power plants. By embracing the future rather than clinging to one of the worst and most counterproductive technologies of the past, Texas can have more jobs, cleaner air and healthier state residents."
Texas NAACP Environmental Justice Chair Gene Collins said: "In the 1980s and 1990s the environmental justice movement focused on the injustices to minorities and unempowered communities done by industry and government who could, without any remorse, use the 'jobs versus the environment' argument to validate their actions. With the scientific developments of the 21st Century pertaining to global warming and other planetary challenges we face from fossil fuels, the argument of environmental justice has been broadened to reflect 'the health of the masses versus the wealth of the few'. What is happening in Texas with TXU's fast-track plan to expand their coal-fired operations is a flagship example of the two ideologies colliding leaving Earth in the balance."
Other key survey findings include the following points:
- More than four out of five Texas adults (82 percent) are concerned about the increased health risks associated with pollution from more coal-fired power plants in Texas. Well over half of Texans (55 percent) say that they are "very" concerned. Nearly nine out of 10 women (89 percent) are concerned about the pollution danger to health, compared to 75 percent of men.
- Nearly nine out 10 Texas adults (85 percent) want to see existing power plants in the state cleaned up (including older "grandfathered" plants that are allowed to escape key pollution control requirements) before new coal-fired power plants are constructed in the state. More than three out of five state residents (63 percent) agree strongly with the wisdom of this clean-up-the-old-plants-first approach, compared to fewer than one in 10 (8 percent) who strongly disagree on the need for such a course of action. While Democrats (92 percent) and Independents (85 percent) are overwhelmingly in favor of this approach, Republicans (77 percent) are not far behind. Those who think older power plants should be cleaned up first include 74 percent of those who say they "definitely" live within 100 miles of one of the proposed new coal-fired power plants.
- Though still in a distinct minority, support for the power plants is stronger among Republicans (42 percent) and men (37 percent) than among women (19 percent) and Independents (27 percent). The intensity of the opposition of women to the new power plants may be seen in that over half (53 percent) "strongly" oppose the new power plants.
- Under one in four Texans (23 percent) disagreed with pursuing the "conservation first" approach and, instead, want to move ahead immediately with proposed new power plants. Only about one in four Republicans and Independents (26 percent and 27 percent, respectively) oppose trying conservation as a way to reduce the need for new coal-fired power plants in Texas. The "conservation first" approach is favored on a roughly equal basis by Texans who say they "definitely" are (68 percent) or are not (70 percent) living within 100 miles of one of the proposed new power plants.
- Nearly half of Texas adults (47 percent) said they are "not aware at all" of Governor Perry's plans to fast-track consideration of 12 or more new power plants in the state. About four in ten state residents (38 percent) said they were very or somewhat aware of the Perry fast-track plans.
- More than two out of five Texas adults (44 percent) say they definitely (14 percent) or probably/may (30 percent) live within 100 miles of one of the proposed new coal-fired power plants.
The Environmental Integrity Project survey results are based on telephone interviews conducted by ORC among a sample of 602 adults (302 men and 300 women) age 18 and over, living in private households in the state of Texas. Interviewing was completed during the period of November 15-19, 2006. Completed interviews of the 602 adults were weighted by two variables: age and gender to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the adult population. The margin of error is plus or minus four percentage points for the sample of 602 adults. Smaller sub-groups will have larger error margins.
With offices in Washington, D.C. and Austin, Texas, the Environmental Integrity Project (http://www.environmentalintegrity.org) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization established in March of 2002 to advocate for more effective enforcement of environmental laws. EIP was founded by Eric Schaeffer, who was director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Regulatory Enforcement. He resigned in 2002 after publicly expressing his frustration with efforts of the Bush Administration to weaken enforcement of the Clean Air Act and other laws.
CONTACT: Ailis Aaron Wolf, (703) 276-3265 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
EDITOR'S NOTE: A streaming audio replay of the EIP news event will be available on the Web as of 2 p.m. CT/3 p.m. ET on December 6, 2006. Click here