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Daily Telegraph: Texas is world’s seventh biggest polluter

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Shell’s Deer Park refinery and petrochemical plant in Texas

By Tom Leonard in New York
Last Updated: 2:01pm GMT 18/01/2008

A love affair with vast, gas-guzzling 4×4 vehicles and contempt for environmental activism has helped Texas become the world’s seventh biggest polluter.

The challenge facing the green lobby in America is illustrated by the latest figures for the Lone Star state from the US Energy Information Administration.
  
In 2003, Texas pumped 670 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere – more than countries including Britain and more than that of California and Pennsylvania, the second and third-ranking US states – put together.

As other states such as California and New York introduce measures to address global warming, there is little evidence of fiercely independent-minded Texas following suit.

The “big is better” philosophy is deeply entrenched in many of Texas’s 23.5 million citizens and its pollution figures have only prompted scattered calls for reform within the state.

Rick Perry, its governor, has expressed doubt as to whether global warming is a man-made problem and his Republican colleagues have refused to make carbon emission reduction a priority.

As other states attempt to limit car use, Mr Perry is trying to push through a $200 billion scheme to build a new trans-Texas highway that will be a quarter of a mile wide in places.

Mr Perry’s administration is unapologetic about Texan carbon emissions, pointing out that it is America’s main energy producer and has a heavy concentration of oil refineries and chemical plants.

“Texas political leaders read “environmental protection as government activism” and want no part of it,” said Jim Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin.

The politicians’ views are shared widely. Texans polled last spring listed the Iraq war and immigration as America’s most pressing issues, with fewer than 4 per cent including the environment.

Nationally, slightly less than half of Americans polled by the Pew Research Centre last year rated global warming as a “very serious” problem. Of those, 55 per cent said it required immediate government action.

Some observers see the influence of the state’s most powerful industry – energy – in Texas’s collective two fingers towards global warming.

However, 28 per cent of the state’s carbon emissions are due to transportation, and critics blame the fascination among ordinary Texans with macho vehicles. One in four of the state’s 20 million cars is a pickup truck.

Debbie Howden, an estate agent in Austin, said her family of six has two pickup trucks and three 4x4s, but described her high petrol bills as a “necessary evil”. She said: “I would definitely put size and safety over the emissions thing.”
 
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/main.jhtml;jsessionid=Q1EBLQB20OBDRQFIQMGSFFOAVCBQWIV0?xml=/earth/2008/01/18/eatexas118.xml

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