History Of Texas Business for Clean Air PAC

Early days: the fight against Coal
TBCAwas born in the wake of the April 2006 announcement by TXU Corporation of its plan to build 11 coal-fired electric generating plants in Texas. This announcement set off a storm of controversy in North Texas, which was out of attainment with federal air quality requirements and struggling to develop a plan to come back into compliance.

Soon after the announcement David Litman called his friend Garrett Boone with the question: "What are we going to do about this?" Both had long been active in conservation causes and knew that this plan was bad in several ways. It would jeopardize the area's ability to come out of non-attainment, risking draconian federal penalties for non-compliance with the Clean Air Act. It would perpetuate an air quality problem that was discouraging businesses and talented workers from relocating to North Texas. It would add global warming pollution and send the wrong signal at a time when Texas needed to attract the clean energy industries that are needed to deal with that problem.

They brought in their friend Trammell S. Crow, a long-time environmentalist and a member of Dallas' prominent real estate family, and held a series of private meetings to bring their business perspective to the issue. In late 2007, after those private meetings had failed to dissuade TXU from its plan, the three formed a political action committee, recruited the support of over 200 business leaders around the state, and took their cause to the court of public opinion and to the Texas Legislature.

They published op-ed pieces in major newspapers arguing that Texas needed aggressive investment in efficiency and clean energy technology rather than dirty, old-style coal generation. They pressured Governor Perry to revoke his order establishing a "fast-track" permitting process for the coal-fired power plants. They lobbied for policies that would help Texas satisfy its power needs through efficiency and non-polluting sources. They seized every opportunity to promote the message that "there is no conflict between clean air and business interests, but rather a natural alliance for the long-term health and economic benefit that clean air will bring to Texas."

In February 2007 a group of private equity interests made a startling announcement: it was purchasing TXU and abandoning plans to build 8 of the 11 coal plants. That announcement, together with the public opposition that TXU's plan had drawn, created a new atmosphere in Austin. Legislators showed unprecedented interest in finding better ways for Texas to satisfy its energy needs. The opportunity was historic, and TBCA's efforts helped the landmark energy efficiency legislation HB 3693, authored by Rep. Joe Straus (R-San Antonio), pass unanimously. This legislation strengthened requirements for electric utilities to satisfy a portion of load growth through efficiency, thereby helping to avert a future power crisis and reducing the pressure to add more electricity from dirty sources like coal to the state grid.Other legislation encouraged those in high-pollution areas to switch to energy-saving vehicles, such as hybrids, and makes it easier to build nuclear plants that can service our future need for electricity without harming air quality.

Read more about TBCA's formation and its opposition to TXU's plan:

  1. "Executives fight TXU coal plants" by Elizabeth Souder, Dallas Morning News December 13, 2006
  2. "How a new generation exerts power" by Elizabeth Souder, Dallas Morning News, December 17, 2006
  3. "Air Quality is Our Business, Too", op-ed in Dallas Morning News, December 19, 2008
  4. "Green business group says its work not done" by Margaret Allen, Dallas Business Journal, March 2, 2007.

After the TXU Fight: Focusing on North Texas Air
Since TBCA was founded in response to a threat to air quality in North Texas, it was natural for TBCA to turn its attention after the Legislative session to improving air quality in North Texas.

The nine-county DFW area is out of compliance with federal Clean Air Act requirements for ozone levels, and the state is under an order to come up with a plan to bring it back into compliance by June 15, 2010. The plan for achieving compliance - the region's revision of the State Implementation Plan, or the "DFW SIP" - was proposed in December 2006 and adopted by the TCEQ (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality) in May 2007. On July 1, 2008, the EPA proposed conditional apoproval of the DFW SIP.

Learn more about the SIP process

If the DFW SIP fails to improve air quality to meet federal requirements, the EPA has the power to impose draconian penalties that would strike a devastating blow to economic development in North Texas. Those penalties include the loss of all federal funding for transportation projects - both roadways and mass transit. TBCA's activities since the Legislative session have been focused on making sure that doesn't happen.

Learn more about our activities

TBCA's interest in air quality does not stop at the limits of the DFW area, however, so the search began for an Executive Director to lead its transformation into a statewide organization.

Expanding our reach statewide
In September, 2007 TBCA hired as its Executive Director Judge Margaret Keliher, who, in her former role as Dallas County Judge, became an expert in the subject of air quality in Texas. As County Judge she served as co-chair of the North Texas Clean Air Steering Committee, the group charged with helping the state develop the DFW SIP. She shares the founders' philosophy that there is no conflict between promoting clean air and business interests, but rather a natural alliance between the two.

Under the leadership of Judge Keliher, TBCA is evolving into two organizations with related but distinct education and advocacy missions, and it's expanding its influence from North Texas to the rest of the state.

The Texas Business For Clean Air Foundation was established to educate the public and opinion leaders about our win-win vision: cleaning the air, meeting our energy needs, attracting cutting-edge technology industries and good jobs to Texas, and creating a healthier environment for Texas families.

The Texas Business for Clean Air PAC will continue to promote specific legislation needed to bring this vision to fruition. Separate Boards of Directors are being established for the two organizations, and the members of those Boards will come from all parts of the state.

Priorities will be established and resources focused on achieving cleaner air in areas like Houston that are in non-attainment as well as areas like Austin, San Antonio and Waco that are threatened with non-attainment status.

In all of their educational and advocacy work, TBCA Foundation and TBCA PAC are guided by this core principle:

Clean air is good for Texas business and good for Texas families.


1601 Elm St., Suite 5000, Dallas, Texas 75201 (214) 922-1199
Contact us at

Visit our sister organization at

Copyright 2009 Texas Business For Clean Air PAC