When a Beaumont-area oil well blew out at the turn of the 20st century – sending a great roiling column of oil, gas and mud skyward for nine days – Houston began its rapid transformation into an international center for the oil and gas industry. The city now hosts 31 percent of all American jobs in oil and gas extraction and 17 energy companies in the Fortune 500, earning it the popular moniker, “Energy Capital of the World.”
But at the turn of the 21st century, Houston’s leaders are working to secure the city’s continued global energy leadership by tapping a new resource: clean energy.
The city has launched an impressive effort to jump-start the growth of clean energy in its economy. It has the strongest building energy codes in the state, it buys more renewable electricity than any other city in the country; and it is building the nation’s largest network of electric vehicle charging stations. Making these investments has allowed Houston to start shedding its dependency on dirty energy and reap big rewards—creating jobs, saving electricity, and avoiding pollution.
Our latest report, America’s Emerging Clean Energy Capital, shows that Houston has only scratched the surface of what’s possible. Deployment of more technologies such as net-zero energy homes, rooftop solar and electric vehicles would help Houston capitalize on the clean energy momentum it has built up in recent years and deliver more environmental and economic benefits to its residents.
As our recent report, The Way Forward on Global Warming, demonstrated, local and state governments have a crucial role to play in cutting U.S. global warming pollution. Cities like Houston are already beginning to lead, but there is still plenty of room to grow.