Try not to be surprised that you're being deceived again.
As time ran out in the legislative session, the Texas House and Senate made last-minute changes to the bills. State lawmakers responded to February’s deadly winter storm with a few key changes to the state’s power grid that would address some issues exposed by the storm -- such as requiring power plants to upgrade for more extreme weather -- but did not make the sweeping structural changes to Texas’ electricity market that some experts have called for in the aftermath of the power crisis.
The House's version of Senate Bill 3 had an amendment to create a grant program for projects that improve the resiliency of water, electric and health care infrastructure, including hospitals, nursing homes, and dialysis centers. But the amendment was taken out during the two chamber's negotiations. [...] Most Texans will have higher charges on their power bills for years to come to cover gas utilities', electric cooperatives' and electric companies' financial losses from the storm and prevent customers from having to pay huge bills in a short time, under plans approved by both the Texas House and Senate.
Lawmakers approved bills that would allow companies to seek billions of dollars in state-approved bonds backed by charges on customers’ bills to stabilize the state’s distressed energy market.
The Senate, which has pushed hard for a financial remedy to the infamous 32-hour period during the week of the storm when regulators kept wholesale power prices at the $9,000 cap after more electric generation came online, passed HB 4492 Sunday night (May 30) about five minutes before the midnight deadline. Multiple senators complained that the House removed provisions to provide direct credits to consumers and left little time to negotiate.
"The Texas Senate made it very clear that we wanted to have some direct relief to ratepayers, and that was stripped out by the House of Representatives," said Roland Gutierrez, D-San Antonio. "Last night we were told to accept what they had sent us — or else."
After a bipartisan group of lawmakers made changes to Senate Bill 2 behind closed doors, the legislation unveiled late Saturday (May 29) would shrink the number of seats on ERCOT's board of directors from 16 to 11, and the state's top politicians would have strong influence over the board. Both chambers approved the bill Sunday evening (May 30).
A selection committee would appoint eight of the 11 board members. The selection committee would be made up of three people -- one appointed by the governor, one appointed by the lieutenant governor and one by the speaker of the House. The committee would use an "outside consulting firm" to select the eight members.
Nine of the 11 ERCOT board seats under SB 2 would be voting members, handing politicians significant power over the ERCOT board. Already, the governor appoints the board members of the Public Utility Commission, which oversees ERCOT.
Politicians previously have not had such involvement in choosing the ERCOT board, whose members are currently selected in a variety of ways; some are chosen by ERCOT’s own nominating committee while others are appointed by companies and consumers participating in the electricity market, with members representing various power sources.
"I am pretty upset by this massive change," Cyrus Reed, president of the Lone Star chapter of the Sierra Club, tweeted early Sunday. "This should be debated in public not snuck in a bill in the dead of night!"
The changes to ERCOT's governance captures the essence of what lawmakers have tried to do in recent weeks: Replace experts on the ERCOT board with political appointees — a change energy experts said would do little to improve the power grid.
Apologies for the Kuffner-oversized excerpt. It's also worth mentioning that the Lege was unable to keep the penalty on renewables in this bill. So ... progress.
I prefer the kind of headway made over the course of the past two weeks against Exxon Mobil, Shell, and a few other of the world's largest polluters.
Activist firm Engine No. 1 won at least two board seats at Exxon following a historic battle over the oil giant’s board of directors, signaling investors’ support for greater disclosure from the company as the world shifts away from fossil fuels. https://t.co/QBizs1lHxM— Defend Our Future | #TimeToAct 🌎✊🏿✊ (@DefendOurFuture) May 26, 2021
Bad Day for Big Oil: Landmark decisions in courtroom and boardroom hit Exxon, Chevron, and Shell Oil; Fossil fuel industry PR has shifted from outright denying climate change to blaming consumers, new study shows... in our latest @GreenNewsReport LISTEN: https://t.co/QZ5Q3FOLXl pic.twitter.com/OZ60pjs0Tv— Brad Friedman (@TheBradBlog) June 2, 2021
Maybe you knew this -- I did not -- but in their quest to go "green" by selling off their dirtiest assets ... it turns out that those don't actually clean anything up.
Big #Oil & gas companies are selling off their most-polluting operations to small private firms. Five of the top ten #methane emitters are small companies that are escaping scrutiny. Great reporting @HirokoTabuchi @nytclimate @sejorg @jswatz #ClimateAction https://t.co/wA0k3fdAqj— Susan Hassol, Climate Communication (@ClimateComms) June 2, 2021
Hilcorp is owned by former @utsystem Regent Jeffery Hildebrand. Maybe this explains their reluctance to seriously tackle the major methane pollution coming from their oil fields. #txenergy https://t.co/ELReD4xOle— Luke Metzger (@lukemetzger) June 3, 2021
Let me note this spot of good news from Austin: Chapter 313's expiration flew under the radar.
And the previously unthinkable gets spoken and written.
The case for nationalizing #oilandgas.— TXsharon (@TXsharon) June 7, 2021
Failing, heavily subsidized private oil companies enjoy the profits of oil extraction while the rest of us pay in tax dollars, #HumanRights abuses, and an unlivable #climate. https://t.co/oFwz8bfZeg
I like the sound of that. It's probably the only way we can overcome the climate denialism. But we'll need to elect a different president and Congress, of course.
And a new Lege.
At the start of the #TXLege session, @ErinForYall said she was "optimistic that the body [would] openly take up climate change." Has that been the case? "Not at all. In fact, that's a huge disappointment for me this session."https://t.co/bqsSsIOhuw— One Breath Partnership (@OneBreathHOU) June 3, 2021
Returning to the Speaker, highlighting another of his failures is necessary.
"As the most powerful member of the Texas House, @DadePhelan not only failed to take that action this session, he effectively torpedoed the most consequential piece of legislation aimed at doing so," writes John Beard in the @beaumontenterprise. #txlege https://t.co/w5Tn6eRTsZ— Public Citizen Texas (@PublicCitizenTX) June 7, 2021
It doesn't have to be like this in Texas. Months after explosions at TPC Group's Port Neches plant injured workers and illegally leaked cancer-causing 1,3-butadiene into the air, @DadePhelan said the #txlege must act.— One Breath Partnership (@OneBreathHOU) June 7, 2021
But he didn't.https://t.co/xG96g9W5M6
Maybe Phelan will hear about that in the interim.
Along the Coastal Bend, a story I also did not get to was activist Diane Wilson and her compadres and comadres fighting Formosa Plastics and others along Matagorda and Lavaca Bay.
TIRN recently stood in solidarity with @unreasonabledw to urge USACE to rescind its permit for Max Midstream, a new oil company, to dredge a channel in Matagorda and Lavaca Bays, Texas. #StopTheDredging #StopOilExports pic.twitter.com/uP0w7YDLSg— TIRN (@SeaTurtles_org) May 20, 2021
Activists in Port Aransas also took on a water desalination facility in Corpus Christi. And it's always nice to to have the national spotlight shine on the small towns and the intractable problems they suffer from under the yoke of Big Oil.
Because Port Isabel, TX is mostly poor, and mostly Brown, he said, “they think they can get away with more here than in other parts of the country.” - Jared Hockema, City Manager of Port Isabel https://t.co/31R0HjmgLZ— Bekah Hinojosa (@beksbot) June 7, 2021
Since I'm down at the beach, I better talk about hurricanes.
Today is the 1st day of hurricane season. If you're in #Houston, remember:— Zach Despart (@zachdespart) June 1, 2021
- Almost 75% of 🏘️ Harvey flooded here were outside the 100yr floodplain
- Our floodplain maps are being re-drawn & are currently outdated
Check out @HoustonChron's flood risk map⬇️https://t.co/qT7hBsWJxA
Hurricanes can also be major pollution events, as plants shut down, break down and start up again, @PublicCitizenTX's @michaelcoleman writes: "Imagine being advised to shelter in place when the refinery next door starts flaring."https://t.co/XkiRJNQTU1 https://t.co/LNHjMwjthb— One Breath Partnership (@OneBreathHOU) June 2, 2021
And a little history.
OTD 20 years ago, Tropical Storm Allison formed off the upper-Texas coast. It would make landfall shortly there after and become the only tropical storm on record to be retired after devastating Houston with flooding--that would pale in comparison to Harvey 16 yrs later. #KHOU11 pic.twitter.com/9iD1nkkUdC— Houston Weather (@KHOUweather) June 4, 2021
I'll finish with the latest on fracking and the Permian Basin.
A month-long airborne study by @NASAJPL, @uarizona, and @ASU found that fixing the most persistent leaks in the Permian Basin oilfield’s infrastructure could cut methane emissions by 55 tons an hour. Read the full story below: https://t.co/1BSIWSt2Px— NASA Climate (@NASAClimate) June 2, 2021
What if Joe Biden -- as part of a green infrastructure jobs program -- hired all of the oilfield and refinery workers who are scared about losing their jobs to cap all of the abandoned oil wells across the country? Just a thought. I'm sure I'm not the first one to think it.
Denton and its anti-fracking activists celebrate a five-year anniversary.
https://t.co/Q87OePkOKz— DelilahForTexas💚☮🌻🌎 (@DelilahforTexas) June 7, 2021
"A system is corrupt when it is strictly profit-driven, not driven to serve the best interests of its people."
-Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute the Sun
Let me close out with this story of rejuvenation in East Texas and the Alabama Coushatta Nation doing their part for the pines.
In an ecosystem that needs fire to flourish, the actions of the tribe could decide the future of the longleaf pine. https://t.co/8qvCxpMo70— Texas Observer (@TexasObserver) June 4, 2021
Did I miss something? Post it in the comments.