Reducing the effects on the environment by carbon emissions has been a concern that has grown during the past few decades from a niche problem into a top priority that is heavily debated among politicians
The idea of combatting climate by reducing pollution was introduced in legislation by former President George H.W Bush, according to Drew Landry, assistant professor of government at South Plains College.
“H.W Bush came up with this idea called ‘Cap and Trade,’” Landry told the Plainsman Press in a recent interview. “Businesses that pollute would be given a cap as to how much they could pollute in a year. If they were coming out under that cap, they would trade what they had left to businesses that needed to pollute more, hence the name. It wasn’t the best idea in the world. But it was a step forward.”
According to Landry, the Republican party took issue with the Cap and Trade legislation. However, in the ‘90s, the Democratic party picked up the idea of capping pollution and it became part of the 2000 campaign.
Landry says that the political polarization of climate change comes from what organizations back political parties.
“That’s where you get a lot of the polarizing aspects of it,” he said. “Big business has conducted its own tests on it and said, ‘No. Climate change is not human-caused. It’s not affected by oil.’ Whereas the Democrats would be funded by left groups like the Sierra Club and other environmental agencies.”
According to Landry, at the time, Republicans were in favor of having clean air and clean water, but they had concerns that the job market would be affected by the change. However, Landry says that because the concerns of Republicans differ from that of the Republican party, they must be approached with the issue from a different perspective.
“You talk to them about energy dependence and energy jobs,” Landry said. “Then you have a different conversation and you can start to reach across isles that you didn’t think you could.”
In March, National Public Radio reported that Texas led the nation in wind energy as the fastest growing state in the industry, with wind turbine technician being a leading job title in the United States.
Just South of Lubbock, in Scurry County, lies one of the state’s largest producers of wind turbines, according to Landry.
These advancements toward clean energy in Texas have been possible through the Electronic Reliability Council of Texas, known as ERCOT, a non-profit, membership-based council. ERCOT provides about 90 percent of the electric power in the state. ERCOT is also known as the Texas electric power grid.
ERCOT’s wind energy produces more than 25 percent of the organization’s energy.
According to Landry, Lubbock’s main power source, Lubbock Power and Light, or LP&L hopes to work with ERCOT. He says that LP&L’s switch from the Southwest Power Pull to the Texas Grid would make it easier for the city of Lubbock to begin installing wind turbines and solar panels.
“There’s an interesting relationship between LP&L and the Lubbock City Council,” Landry said. “Their board has to have an approval from the City Council and the City Council has to approve their move to ERCOT. Then we will disconnect from the Southwest Power Pull. The Texas Public Utility Commission will have their vote in 2018.”
In the summer, the United States pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement under the administration of President Donald Trump. The agreement was a global coalition that was meant to curb carbon emissions that contribute to our changing climate.
“He [President Trump] said it [removing the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement] would help out with jobs.” Landry said. “His idea was that the more regulation you have over businesses, the less that they would be able to function. He would rather have a United States agreement.”
According to Landry, President Trump and those in his party argue that the coal and oil industries will suffer from the switch to clean energy. He says that the research that goes into measuring the effects of climate change are questioned out of skepticism.
“They criticize the findings and the methodology,” Landry said. “They criticize the whole basis of the science. With all of the stuff that is going on, I think that the Texas Public Utility Commission would have to allow for LP&L to join ESCOT.”