More Wind Energy Possible by 2020

Local environmental groups are calling on Congress to increase the amount of renewable energy used by consumers. Houston Public Radio's Laurie Johnson reports.

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The sound of dozens of pinwheels spinning in the wind is intended to convey on a small scale the idea of wind farms. Houston's climate and weather are ideally suited for wind farming. Aaron Waldorf is a field associate for Environment Texas. He says Texas is already the leading producer of wind energy, but his organization is trying to promote not just the production of, but also the consumption of wind energy in the state.

"As you know a lot of parts already for wind farms come through the shipping port, through the channel, and so that would involve a lot more jobs and money that way. It also would help clean up Houston. Houston has an eight-hour ozone you know 'no go outside time' which is kind of bad. We could help clean that up by reducing our dependence on fossil fuels because a lot of times that puts out particulates. So we're just trying to show the people of Houston that wind energy is good for them in many different ways."

Dr. Bonnie New is coordinator of a group called Health Professionals for Clean Air. She says there's no question that air pollution causes a number of medical problems from asthma to increased risk for certain cancers.

"Refining, extraction, prospecting that is associated with locating and producing fossil fuels involves, by its very nature, pollution of the air and the water and the soil. Why would we care from a health point of view? That's the air that we breathe, the water that we drink, the land that we touch and work on and grow our food on."

The two organizations have joined to ask local congressional representatives to co-sponsor and vote for legislation coming up in the House in the next couple of weeks. The bill would create a federal standard for renewable energy use.

"Federal renewable energy standard would allow us to require that 20 percent of the energy produced by the year 2020 comes from clean energy sources. And the bill specifically states what sources it could come from. Certain sources like wind power, solar power, geothermal -- the gas that comes off landfills, all these different types of power sources are clean and they're renewable so they could last forever."

Waldorf says several energy bills have already gone through the House and Senate without the renewable energy mandate attached. This new legislation includes the renewable energy standard and he sees that as indicative of a legislative shift toward promoting more clean energy consumption. Laurie Johnson, Houston Public Radio News.

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