Texas' Water Shortage Turning Ranchers & Farmers Against Coal-Fired Utility Expansion

Patrick Feller - accent on eclectic/CC BY 2.0

Recipe for socialist rice cooked with commie coal.
Grown-in-the-USA rice is a huge export crop for Texas farmers. The recipe for a successful Texas rice production, year after year, traditionally has included a big annual helping of Federal price supports and lots and lots of water -- even more when there's an historic drought, like now.

Coal production and coal burning electricity generation also get Federal price support -- to the tune of $1.367 billion taxpayer dollars in 2010 -- and more water to cool & condense the turbine steam and to capture emissions. Texas is the absolute highest coal consuming state and they have plans to add a lot more coal-fired electrical production capacity. They're doing it because it is the lowest cost way to meet the high demand growth that is projected over next several decades (lowest, as long as you discount the environmental impact of course).

With the ongoing drought something has to give. Rice farmers are upset with coal-fired utilities and if the drought continues unabated there will be an epic fight over water and subsidies. Cut the subsidies and demand for one or the other or both will recede, depending mainly, of course, on politics.

Boston Globe has the details. Here's an excerpt:

From Bay City on the Gulf Coast to the West Texas plains, energy companies are facing stiff opposition to proposed power plants that would serve the state's fast-growing population. Groups of ranchers, shrimpers, rice farmers and residents have banded together to oppose the plans.

"We have people that need water that don't have water," said Allison Sliva, who leads the group fighting a proposed coal-fired power plant in Bay City, a rural area about 80 miles south of Houston. "We can't continue to burn coal and have industrial plants that require huge amounts of water."

The groups are pressing government agencies not to approve permits for construction and in some cases are going to the courts. Some plants are having trouble lining up water supplies from local water authorities, which normally welcome the revenue.

Assuming the drought continues in TX, somebody has to lose and I'll bet it will be the farmers & ranchers. There are fewer of them and they have less money to spend on lobbyists. Meanwhile, everybody loses as long as coal gets Federal subsidies.

Tags: Coal | Factory Farming | Farming | Texas

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