Texas regulators call for lower greenhouse gas emissions

b>By the OGJ Online Staff

HOUSTON, Jan 15 -- Texas regulators said measures must be taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Texas, which account for about 10% of the US total.

Texas produces about 189 million tonnes/year of carbon equivalents and the rate is rising about 0.7%/year, according to a draft report issued by Jeffrey Saitas, executive director of the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC).

Greenhouse gases commonly refers to a group of compounds, including carbon dioxide and methane, which generally are not regulated by any state or the federal government, but may contribute to long-term climate change, or global warming. A separate group of compounds, including ozone, lead, particulate matter, and toxic substances, are regulated by most states and the federal government.

Electric, industrial, and transportation fossil fuel combustion sources account for 85% of greenhouse gas emission in Texas, the report found. It noted measures to reduce consumption of fossil fuels, or changes to a fuel with less carbon, will reduce greenhouse gas production.

The report estimated new combined heat and power (CHP) or cogeneration projects could save an estimated 20,000 Mw of energy. Additional capacity could result from facilities designed to generate excess electricity to sell to the grid, it concluded.

One analysis estimated the commercial sector account for about one-third of the potential for new CHP projects and the industrial sector, about two-thirds. The estimates don't take into account the potential for merchant CHP projects.

In addition, the report recommends the TNRCC expand incentives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions voluntarily. These measure include encouraging development of anaerobic digestion facilities at animal feeding operations to produce methane to produce electricity for rural Texas.

The report also recommends aggressive implementation of a new law encouraging electricity production from methane generated at municipal landfills to offset pollution from other energy production units. Other recommendations address the need to boost telecommuting, van pooling and car pooling, and vehicle efficiency standards.

Other recommendations deal with data collection, especially the need to develop consistent greenhouse gas measures and creation of a registry for reporting reductions.

The draft report will be on the TNRCC's Jan.18 agenda. "Texas does not regulate greenhouse gas emissions, but we already regulate the major sources of greenhouse gas emissions: transportation, industry and power plants," said Jeffrey Saitas, executive director. "We need to focus on those programs which most effectively reduce greenhouse gases," Saitas said. "And then we need to improve those programs."

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