"Coal Star State"

"One February night in 2007, a boisterous crowd from all around Texas—old-school ranchers and farmers, fresh-faced Baylor students, environmentalists new and old, big-city Democrats, and rural Republicans—packed a Waco auditorium to discuss the next round of an epic fight. The gathering would turn out to be the high-water mark of a campaign to halt a tsunami of new coal-fired power plants. A staggering 18 plants were on the table statewide, 11 proposed by one unpopular company, Dallas-based utility giant TXU Corp. Only China was doing more to expand the climate-choking reach of coal.

The Waco gathering signaled that what started as a lonely fight years earlier by environmental groups and citizens living near the proposed facilities had grown into a broad, deep coalition rarely seen in Texas. Dallas Mayor Laura Miller had assembled 36 cities and school boards representing some 7 million citizens. The cities, fearing the effects of millions of tons of new pollution on the state’s already fouled air, had pledged to take the plants on one by one with the help of Stephen Susman, one of the nation’s top trial lawyers. A tassel-toed gaggle of Dallas Republican businesspeople piled on as well, arguing that pollution from coal plants would jeopardize commerce."

Forrest Wilder reports for the Texas Observer November 13, 2009.

Monday, November 16, 2009
Air