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Sunday , October 21 2018
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Tag Archives: texas pollution

Study: Switch to Solar Power Could Save 50,000 Lives

SAN ANTONIO – Thousands of Americans die prematurely from air pollution-related diseases associated with burning coal, and a new study says transitioning to solar power would save more than 50,000 American lives each year.

The report’s lead author, Joshua Pearce, an electrical-engineering professor at Michigan Technological University, said investing in solar power is more than a public-health issue; it could be profitable as well.

“But you also produce electricity that has value,” he said. “And so, let’s say that we did this on a truly distributed case, and everybody just put up solar on their rooftop, so they were offsetting residential electricity. The American public would make $2 million for every life they saved.”

He acknowledged that the heavy up-front costs of replacing the coal-energy infrastructure with solar – estimated at $1.5 trillion – but said there’s a good economic case to be made. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, Texas currently has 1,225 megawatts of installed solar capacity, and has the largest solar potential in the country.

Pearce’s team tapped geographic data to determine the number of deaths attributed to coal-powered plants, and scoured national data for regional electricity prices to find that switching to solar could turn a big profit for every life saved. He argued that switching to solar should be a no-brainer and said that, for example, if terrorists killed 50,000 people and said they were going to do it again next year, Americans would be outraged.

“But instead, if you were part of an industry that we knew was going to kill 50,000 Americans next year – and your motive was simply to make money – we completely let it go,” he said, “even though we know it’s a fact that 50,000 Americans lose their lives.”

According to the World Health Organization, millions die across the globe each year due to air pollution, which is the largest contributor to non-communicable diseases such as stroke, cancers, chronic respiratory illnesses and heart disease.

The study is online at, and Texas solar data is at

Author: Mark Richardson – Texas News Service

Mapping TX Neighborhoods at Risk from Toxic Oil and Gas Emissions

AUSTIN, Texas – More than 1.5 million Texans live within one-half mile of oil and gas facilities that can release toxic emissions that are threats to health and the environment.

A new mapping tool from Earthworks and the Clean Air Task Force pinpoints the locations of almost 400,000 oil and gas facilities in the state, and neighborhoods, schools and hospitals within a half-mile radius.

Cathy McMullen, a registered nurse and community activist in Denton, has battled state and local officials over hydraulic fracturing and drilling in her hometown.

“The goal, for me,” McMullen said, “would be to just use it as another tool in the arsenal to say, ‘You just can’t continue to ignore this mounting evidence that there is a problem with the existing infrastructure from these oil and gas wells.’ ”

The Oil and Gas Threat Map shows the widespread impact of oil and gas activities across the Lone Star State. There are 15 counties with more than 75 percent of their populations living in the half-mile risk radius, and one-third of all of Texas counties have an elevated oil and gas health risk.

The Environmental Protection Agency recently finalized a rule to reduce methane emissions from new or modified oil and gas operations, which is expected to prevent 11 million metric tons of carbon-dioxide-equivalent emissions by 2025. Conrad Schneider, advocacy director with the Clean Air Task Force, said information from the threat map will allow people to determine their risk and decide on their next steps.

“The beauty of this map is it’ll allow concerned citizens to look up and learn their cancer and other respiratory risks from this toxic air pollution,” said Schneider. “We hope that, armed with this information, they will demand protective safeguards, requiring the industry to clean up its act and reduce these serious risks to public health.”

Schneider said the map shows 238 counties in 21 states, including Gaines and Yoakum counties in Texas, where people face a cancer risk that exceeds the EPA’s level of concern.

The map is available online at

Mark Richardson, Public News Service (TX)