Archive for the 'Texas' Category

An observation on car travel.

Saturday, November 24th, 2007

Especially at the holidays, it can be far more pleasant to take a little extra time and go a few extra miles on state roads and U.S. Highways rather than battle the traffic and press of the Interstate Highways.

That’s what we did today as we traveled 260 miles from the outskirts of Dallas home to Austin. The worst stretch was the 30 miles we spent on I-45. The best thing about the whole trip was all but avoiding I-35.

Beneficial side effect: more and better places to stop between large cities, which is important when you’re traveling with young children.

Go get ’em, Senator Ogden!

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

I don’t have any particular brief for or against Texas Southern University, the Texas Youth Commission, or the Texas Department of Transportation (well, nobody like TxDOT) but I’m just glad to hear someone with clout — Texas Senate Finance chairman Steve Ogden — rake some bloated bureaucracies over the coals.  Patricia Kilday Hart does the explaining at Texas Monthly’s BurkaBlog.

This country would be a far better place, in my opinion, if politicians of all stripes took it upon themselves to ensure that publicly owned institutions really did spend their efforts promoting the public weal.  Ogden’s comments reinforce my overall notion that most government bodies could be shrunk by a sizeable fraction (a third? at least?) with net benefits to the citizenry — if we took the time and effort to shrink them the right way.

TXU links roundup.

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

So, maybe you heard about this little buyout that’s been proposed? If not, here’s a smorgasbord o’ links so’s you and I both can come back and re-inform ourselves at any future point.

As for what it all means? I haven’t been able to guess.

More light on Texas coal.

Monday, February 12th, 2007

My friend Michael Webber just published an op-ed in the Houston Chronicle, in which he deconstructs both TXU’s recently issued “Fact Book” and the “Coal Is Filthy” campaign to which I referred the other day.

Scare tactics clouding Texas debate on coal

In the overheated debate about how Texas will generate future electricity, too many parties are playing fast and loose with the truth — and in the process spooking citizens. We need to see past these scare tactics to take an objective look at Texas’ energy future. […]

The way out of this mess is to remember first that powerplants can last 50 years or more, and second that conservation can be effective immediately to take the edge off of peak power demand. In a matter of months in 2001, California reduced peak power demand by 5 gigawatts without cramping lifestyle or hurting the economy. Texas can implement a similar program, buying ourselves time and avoiding a bad decision that we might regret for decades to come. […]

The whole thing is well worth reading.

More on coal-fired power in Texas.

Thursday, February 8th, 2007

If you’re interested in this issue at all, hitch yourself to the Texas Observer Blog.  Today they ran a great inside-baseball piece by Forrest Wilder on the efforts of Texas Senate member Troy Fraser to rein in electric utilities.

This isn’t re-regulation exactly, but an aggressive attempt to fix a legislatively-created market that hasn’t worked for consumers. And Fraser – a conservative, pro-business Republican – may have found the perfect bogeyman in TXU. Certainly the dogpile on this increasingly maligned company is growing.

Oh, and the opponents of the TXU coal plants have put together a harsh, compelling ad campaign:  Face It — Coal Is Filthy.

More on TXU’s plans for coal-fired plants in Texas.

Wednesday, February 7th, 2007

A couple of weeks ago I posted this in connection with S. C. Gwynne’s Texas Monthly article on TXU’s plan to build a slew of coal-fired power plants across the state. The battle over these plants is heating up in the Texas Lege, as you’ll see from this fine post on the (relatively) new Texas Observer blog.

For more context, you can also check out this June 2006 Texas Observer piece, which argues that energy deregulation in Texas has left consumers footing much higher electric bills.