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How limiting EPA's ability to regulate greenhouse gas affects Central Texas

Environment Texas said the state has eight of the power plants producing the most pollution in the U.S.

AUSTIN, Texas — On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Clean Air Act does not give the Environmental Protection Agency broad authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants that contribute to global warming. This worries environmentalists.

A report by Environment Texas finds the state has eight of the nation's power plants producing the most pollution. In the top 10 are three Texas power plants: Martin Lake, Oak Grove, and W.A. Parish rank among the top 10 dirtiest in the nation.

"Our power plants are the second-largest source of emissions," said Lennis Barlow, clean energy associate with Environment Texas. "With the first largest being transportation."

One of the most-polluting plants is Fayette Power Project, a coal-fired power plant located near La Grange, Texas. 

"It's some wild percentage of Austin's greenhouse gas emissions are just a result of this one power plant that's being run mostly off of coal," added Barlow.

Austin Energy owns one-third of this plant, and they've been working to become carbon-free. They hope to reach their goal of being 100% carbon-free by 2035.

"We're already over 50% [carbon-free] now," said Karl Popham with Austin Energy.

They've been switching over to renewable energy. Popham said their goal is to achieve cleaner air. They've had this goal for years, and have looked at several ways to help slash fossil fuels. One of those initiatives includes having 40% of vehicle miles traveled electrified by 2030. 

"Right now, every month, about 10% of vehicles registered are electric," said Popham. "That's about a thousand new EVs on the road in the Austin area every month."

They hope to cut down emissions from the city's vehicle fleet and are also promoting bicycling. Popham said the Supreme Court's decision won't hold them back. 

"I don't see it slowing us down or slowing down our drive to be as clean and as renewable as quickly as possible," he said.

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