Your Environmental Roundup For Texas And Beyond!

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Andrews County Nuclear Waste Dump Begins Accepting Waste, Paying County And State

  • Texas’s strapped budget coffers got an infusion of cash from a decidedly unsavory source this week, in the form of a $3.4 million check from Waste Control Specialists, the operator of a much maligned radioactive waste dump in Andrews, Texas, near Midland.  The dump site had caused a prolonged legal battle over concerns that groundwater (including the vast Ogalalla Aquifer) could become contaminated by the waste, but, on July 31, radioactive waste from across the country began moving to Andrews.  “TCEQ should never have granted WCS a license in the first place,” said Texas Sierra Club Conservation Director Cyrus Reed. “There are still serious questions about the hydrogeology under the site.”  Waste Control Specialists is owned by Dallas Billionaire, and Republican mega-contributor, Harold Simmons, who is known for, among other things, being sued by his own daughters for making illegal campaign contributions in their names.

Mile Long Band Of Oil Washes Onto Pristine Padre Island Beach

  • A mile long, 10 foot wide band of oil and tar balls washed on shore about 40 miles south of the Padre Island National Seashore visitor center.  Though the oil has not been “fingerprinted” to determine exactly where it came from, it was likely pushed to Padre Island by Hurricane Isaac, which struck Louisiana two weeks ago.  Padre Island is the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world.

Environmental Groups Lobby PUC To Boost Solar And Geothermal Production

  • A coalition of environmental, public health, and labor groups launched the Clean Energy Works for Texas Campaign on Wednesday to lobby state lawmakers and the Public Utility Commission (PUC) to help kick start “utility scale” production of solar and geothermal energy.  A 2005 law, the Texas Renewable Portfolio Standard, helped launch the booming wind industry in Texas that now provides 10% of the state’s power, but the law “also intended for a portion of the mandated renewables to come from non-wind sources, such as solar and geothermal. To date, the PUC has taken no action to implement this portion of the law.”  Al Armendariz, former EPA Administrator and current Senior Campaign Representative for Sierra Club said this about the group’s goals:

 While wind energy has taken off and provided thousands of jobs to Texans, the PUC has so far taken no action to implement the non-wind provisions, which leaves solar and geothermal power behind. Solar and geothermal power are clean, abundant, and don't rely on our precious water resources to generate electricity. With a push from the PUC, the rest of the state could experience the same economic boom that wind energy has brought to West Texas. Our filing today asks the PUC to take the final step in fully implementing  the renewable portfolio standard. Solar and geothermal are important to meet Texas's reliability needs and protect our water resources.

Speaking Of Wind, There’s Enough Of It To Power The Entire World

  • Two new studies from U.S. scientists show that Earth provides more than enough wind to power the energy needs of the globe.  One of the study’s, authored by Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institute for Science, found that wind has the potential to produce more than 20 times the amount of energy now consumed on Earth.  The economics of build the required number of turbines to actually accomplish this was not covered in the studies.  “To power civilization with wind turbines, I think you’re talking about a couple wind turbines every square mile,” Caldeira said. “It’s not a small undertaking.”

House And Senate Farm Bills Encourage The Worst Agricultural Practices, Will Accelerate Global Warming

  • Mark Hertsgaard, of the New America Foundation, wrote a scathing Op-Ed in the New York Times describing the insane approach to agricultural, and climate, policy shown by members of the US House and Senate as the race is on to pass a bill to replace the current farm bill which expires September 30.  Though there are a multitude of relatively easy and common sense measures that would limit farmers’ emissions and exposure to climate change, Hertsgaard argues, the proposed bills encourage the worst possible practices, including “fence-row to fence-row” monoculture planting, the exclusive use of chemical fertilizers, and others.  “The proposed farm bill would make American agriculture's climate problem worse, in two ways. Not only would the bill accelerate global warming by encouraging more greenhouse gas emissions, it would make the nation's farms more vulnerable to the impacts of those emissions.”  The bill has been held up because Republican members of the House want to limit food aid to the desperately poor.

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