The Deep Heart of Texas: Why going green in the black gold capital will be harder than just building windmills

After the March 15 lawn occupation of the Texas state Capitol with Climate Strike TX as part of the US Youth Climate Strike, State Lead Virginia Gaffney didn’t stop advocating and educating for the green future. In a series of tweets, she highlights and repeats the message she gave to news outlets on the day of the rally with an especially relevant message that the people of Texas — particularly rural, oil and gas town residents — need to read.

“From the low-income side,” Gaffney said, “the oil field and refinery workers with dirt under their nails and thick, thick, callouses, are the least likely to put their support behind intangible notions.”

Gaffney points out that “All their lives, they’ve been the hardworking backbone of Texas, and now we’re asking them to trust that the sun, wind, and running streams can do what they do: keep Texas powered.”

It’s true, most Texas towns are built on harvesting fossil fuels, and a lot of Texas business relies on this industry. This is something Texans know, and that makes it hard to believe that a “growing and blooming” Texas could survive the Green New Deal.

But Gaffney doesn’t stop there. Simply presenting the problem without offering a solution, or a path to one, is simply highlighting a need without helping it.

Texas as we know it is railroad and oil towns, bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush off the highways, pecan festivals, barbecue, and Friday Night Lights. Could “Texas as we know it” still exist on the other side of AOC’s bill? As Gaffney puts it, only if green energy business first dedicates to the survival of the families who will drive the sustainable future forward.

“Texas can lead the way. We have the space, we have the money, we have the biomes to support wind, solar, hydroelectric, geothermal power. But it’s gonna be a big leap and somebody’s hat might fly off. We must be willing to push past the initial gust of fear for the better of Texas.”

In 2017, wind power was responsible for 15.7% of electricity generated in Texas. Texas is also the biggest wind energy producer of any US state. When Gaffney said, “Texas can lead the way,” she knows they already are. At current capacity, Texas wind farms can generate 20,000 megawatts, enough to power 5 million homes. This is nearly triple Oklahoma’s capacity of 7,000 megawatts.

The future can be bright and green in more ways than one. Clean energy is profitable and the first to provide a constant stream of sustainable power and pay to Texas residents will be the new JR.

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