May 8, 2007
After the vote Sen. Kirk Watson was particularly pleased, having gotten the Legislature for the first time in this session to recognize by law the problem of greenhouse gases.Watson, D-Austin, convinced his colleagues a few minutes ago to pass a bill requiring the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to develop a statewide strategy for reducing carbon dioxide emissions. The bill moves to the House and its bottleneck of hundreds of bills awaiting a floor hearing.The TCEQ has until the end of 2008 to develop the greenhouse strategies. The agency must prove that the strategies, through the reduced use of energy, will result in a cost saving for households and businesses.Watson calls Senate Bill 1687 a “no regrets bill.” “If I’m right and we find out we need to be reducing greenhouse gases, we’ll have the strategies in Texas to do that,” Watson said, outside the chamber after the vote. “If it turns out that I’m wrong and there is no real need for the reduction, then, at worst, this bill saves us money.”The bill proceeds on the assumption that global warming is a problem that needs solving at the state level. Texas emits more carbon dioxide than any other state, including California, according to Watson. If Texas were an independent nation, as more than a few natives support, we would produce more carbon dioxide emissions that all but six other countries.Several countries have already adopted measures that reduce gases and, in the end, save money for those who conserve energy, Watson said.Replacing regular light bulbs in a home or business with fluorescent bulbs has the effect of reducing greenhouse gases because they take less energy to light. Fluorescent bulbs may cost more at the outset but the savings will be realized in the lower energy use.