(In honor of Earth Day and as the Legislature begins the budget conference process, we're happy to bring you the Texas Sierra Club's top 5 budget priorities for protecting our rich natural heritage in the Lone Star state. - promoted by Katherine Haenschen)
Top Five Budget Requests of Sierra Club Lone Star Chapter Recommendations for House and Senate Conferees on Senate Bill 1
1. Texas Emissions Reduction Program (TERP)
The Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP) is one of the key programs at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) that helps keep compliance with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) ozone standards for clean air. Funded by so-called dedicated fees collected from businesses throughout the state, TERP provides incentives to reduce (mostly) vehicle emissions of nitrogen oxides in non-attainment and near non-attainment areas. The fees raise some $190 million per year, but the current Senate version of SB 1 would only appropriate $90 million per year, while the House version would only provide $65 million per year. These funds are very important now because the U.S. EPA is likely to make the current air quality standard more stringent later this year. Consequently, several more urban areas throughout the eastern half of Texas (Austin-Round Rock, San Antonio, Tyler-Longview, for example) would fail the standard and industries in the Houston region would face additional federal fines.
Sierra Club has joined with many public and private sector stakeholders throughout the state recommending that TERP appropriations be restored to at least $135 million per year.
In more good news, the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) last week officially rejected a water permit for the White Stallion coal plant after over 2,000 of you sent comments and demanded that LCRA not give another drop of our water to dirty coal. This LCRA victory comes on the heels of San Antonio's recent decision to shut down their Dealy coal plant and invest in clean energy.
These are huge victories for our Texas grassroots movement!
Since the 2009 Austin Generation Task Force, our volunteers have been urging Austin City Council to move beyond coal. You collected petitions, attended leadership trainings, hosted house parties, made phone calls, flyered events, contacted City Hall, and now your efforts have paid off!
Austin joins cities across the country that have recognized coal's health effects and increasing costs are too risky to sustain. It's no longer a question of IF Austin will move beyond coal; it's now a question of WHEN.
Our next goal is to work with Austin Energy and the LCRA to develop an aggressive timeline to shut down Fayette by 2016. If we succeed, Austin will be the biggest city in the country to phase out of a municipally-owned coal plant. This is an opportunity for us to lead by example, and we look forward to the challenge of making Austin #1.
These victories show that when we work together, we can build a cleaner, smarter energy future for our community. Thanks for all your help to get us there!
(Impressive organizing efforts from Sierra Club's push to get Austin to divest from coal-based electricity. - promoted by Katherine Haenschen)
We're making great progress moving Austin Beyond Coal.
In just two months, we've signed up 24 house party hosts and gathered more than 1,000 petition signatures demanding Austin Energy phase out of our city-owned Fayette coal paltn. We're well on track to meet our goal of 5,000 signatures by Earth Day 2012.
These efforts are getting noticed. Last week, Mayor Lee Leffingwell told the Community Impact Newspaper that he's "willing to entertain the option" of moving beyond coal.
Now we need to keep the momentum going...
We need as many people as possible to attend our Beyond Coal Town Hall on December 4th and show the decision makers that our grassroots movement is growing bigger every day. We'll also be presenting new policy research that shows the Fayette coal plant can be phased out in a cost-effective way, protecting Austin Energy rate payers from the rising costs of coal.
What: Beyond Coal Town Hall
When: Sunday, December 4th, 3:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Where: Texas State Employee's Union Office, 1700 South 1st Street, Austin, TX 78704
RSVP:Click here to RSVP
(After last night's debate, it's important to remember the human and health costs of Rick Perry's energy and environmental policies. - promoted by Katherine Haenschen)
Rick Perry just unveiled his energy plan for America. The plan, if implemented, will poison our air and water with toxic pollutants like soot, smog, arsenic, cadmium, dioxin, lead, and formaldehyde. It would also undercut safeguards from mercury, which is a neurotoxin and is known to harm developing fetuses.
"Rick Perry's energy plan reads like a roadmap for making America's kids sick," said Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune. "Under this plan, we can expect to see much higher rates of asthma among children, and risk to pregnant women from mercury exposure. Republicans like Perry are putting polluters' profits first and our kids' health last. The Republican mantra should be 'wheeze, baby, wheeze."
Perry's plan calls for scaling back basic EPA safeguards that protect our clean air and water. It would simultaneously expand development of dirty energy like coal, oil, and natural gas amounting to a one-two punch to Americans' health.
"American families have enough to worry about," Brune said. "They don't need to spend more time taking their kids to the doctor or more money on hospital bills. The only people who stand to profit from this plan are overpaid oil, coal and natural gas CEOs."
"Dismantling the EPA and assuming that states are properly watching over natural gas drilling is dangerous and puts the health of our families and communities at risk."
Perry's plan would also undercut the expansion of jobs in industries like solar-the fastest-growing industry in the energy sector.
"There's a solution to the current epidemic of pollution-related illness that will also create good, lasting local jobs, and secure America's energy independence," said Brune. "It's clean energy. America's clean energy industry is strong and thriving, even in this down economy. Rick Perry's plan would stifle that growth and return our country to a dirty, antiquated energy system. Under his plan, we'll see asthma rates among American kids soar, while countries like China surpass us in reaping the benefits from clean energy like solar and wind."
In fact, America is predicted to become the world's leader in solar energy by 2014, and in 2010, the U.S. was a net exporter of solar by $2 billion. Solar energy creates seven times more jobs than coal, nuclear and natural gas.
(Last day to comment on this crucial issue, y'all! Also check out the awesome "Built to Spill" poster below the jump. - promoted by Katherine Haenschen)
The State Department is currently considering TransCanada's application for a Presidential Permit to build and operate the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. This massive pipeline would be the third and largest dedicated tar sands pipeline running between Canada and the US, and would deliver up to 900,000 barrels a day of this toxic oil from Canada to Texas.
Allowing TransCanada, a foreign company, to profit from a dirty and dangerous tar sands oil pipeline at the expense of of Americans' drinking water, food supply and economy is not in our national interest. Please stand up for our clean energy future and submit your public comment today.
Here's just a few reasons to oppose KXL:
Producing tar sands oil creates 3x more carbon pollution than conventional oil and will push our climate system past the tipping point. Also, the refining of tar sands oil will further threaten the public health of communities in Houston and Port Arthur.
Regarding water security, the first Keystone tar sands pipeline has already spilled 12 times in its first 12 months, and a recent study concludes this new KXL pipeline poses a major threat to our water supply, especially the Ogallala and Carrizo-Wilcox aquifers.
In addition to being bad environmental policy, there appears to be a conflict of interest between some officials in the State Department and TransCanada lobbyists and consultants. According to the New York Times, "The State Department assigned an important environmental impact study of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline to a company with financial ties to the pipeline operator, flouting the intent of a federal law meant to ensure an impartial environmental analysis of major projects."
There are many problems with bringing Canada's dirty oil to Texas, but we can still stop this mistake before it's too late.
A fire at the Magnablend Chemical Company is burning out of control today near Dallas in Joe Barton’s Congressional District. Tomorrow, Tuesday, October 4, Congressman Barton of Ennis is holding an Energy and Environment Subcommittee Hearing: Quality Science for Quality Air.
“A major chemical plant fire near Dallas at the Magnablend Chemical Company demonstrates the critical need for a strong Clean Air Act to protect public health from extraordinarily large volumes of toxic air pollution when accidents like this occur,” stated Dr. Neil Carman, clean air program director for the Sierra Club’s Lone Star Chapter. “Most industrial accidents such as this one are preventable according to investigations of other chemical plant accidents. Congressman Joe ‘McCarthy’ Barton of Ennis should not hold hearings to attack the US EPA at a time when the agency provides a critical life-supporting role in the nation and when his own district is on fire with toxic air pollution spewing into the air,” Carman emphasized.
The Magnablend Chemical Co. operates specialty chemical blending services.
For more information, contact Dr. Neil Carman, 512-288-5772
(This is a huge event today, and an important opportunity to protect Texas water and lands. - promoted by Katherine Haenschen)
When was the last time you saw Jim Hightower and Debra Medina together at the same rally?
Today a broad coalition of local officials, property rights activists, religious leaders, and environmentalists will gather together in Austin at the U.S. Department of State public hearing to sound the alarm about the threat of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that would transport dangerous tar sands oil across east Texas properties and wetlands. If this pipeline were allowed to be built, up to 1.7 million gallons of toxic tar sands oil could flow into east Texas drinking water and land before the proposed automatic shutoff valve would trigger in the event of a spill.
The U.S. Department of State needs to re-do its faulty analysis that did not include the heightened threat to water resources with exceptional drought conditions in Texas. At the hearing, Uris Roberson and the Mayor of Gallatin, TX will announce the formation of a '391 Commission' creating local authority to address the threat.
Uris Roberson, East Texas 391 Commission
Neil Carman, Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club
Debra Medina, We Texans (Tea Party)
David Daniel, East Texas landowner and founder of STOP, Stop the Tar sands Oil Pipeline
Amanda Yaira Robinson, Texas Interfaith Power & Light
Jackie Joy, Sierra Student Coalition at University of Texas Pan-American
United States Department of State public hearing on a proposed toxic Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline
Prayer Vigil, Press Conference, Public Hearing and Rally
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
10:30am - Interfaith Prayer Vigil
11:30am - Press Conference
Noon - Hearing begins
6:00pm - Rally Featuring Jim Hightower, Debra Medina and Rep. Elliott Naishtat
8:00pm - Hearing ends
LBJ Auditorium,University of Texas at Austin, corner of East Dean Keeton Street.
(This is going to be a big story here in Texas. Expect to hear more on this soon here on BOR. - promoted by Katherine Haenschen)
Right now, President Obama must decide whether to grant or deny a Presidential permit to foreign oil giant TransCanada for the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
If the tar sands pipeline is approved, NASA scientist James Hansen says it will be "game over" for the Earth's climate. Heavy tar sands oil creates three times more carbon pollution than regular Texas crude. The Keystone XL pipeline would allow the Canadian tar sands industry to expand dramatically, and the resulting pollution would nullify our existing conservation efforts worldwide.
But there's good news. We can still stop this mistake before it's too late!
The U.S. State Department is hosting Keystone XL public hearings across the country, and there are two hearings scheduled in Texas. This is our best chance to communicate directly with the Obama Administration and make our voices heard to stop the pipeline, so please spread the word:
PORT ARTHUR Monday, September 26th
4:30pm - 10pm
Bob Bowers Civic Center
3401 Cultural Center Drive
Port Arthur, TX, 77642
Click here to RSVP
AUSTIN Wednesday, September 28th
12pm - 8pm
University of Texas
Lady Bird Johnson Auditorium
2313 Red River Street
Austin, TX, 78705
Click here to RSVP
The tar sands pipeline would not only pollute our air but also endanger our Texas water supply. A new report released this week shows that the State Department has ignored the record Texas drought and the effects an oil spill could have on the Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer. Help preserve our limited water supplies for drinking and fire protection, not for foreign oil pipelines.
It's not "game over" yet. We can still save our planet. But it's critical that you attend one of these public hearings and tell President Obama to stand strong against the big oil lobbyists and to instead embrace a clean energy future.
Texas is in an unprecedented environmental emergency.
Eighty-one percent of the state is currently suffering exceptional drought. It’s the worst one-year drought Texas has experienced in 116 years of state records.
Texas is literally on fire. Over 3.6 million acres have burned in wildfires topping the record 1.8 million acres burned in 2010 with less than four months left. There’ve been over 21,000 fires in Texas and wildfires in the state for 300 straight days. The Bastrop fire has been burning out of control for six days and nearly 1,400 homes have been destroyed 30 miles from the state capitol leaving Austin in clouds of toxic smoke.
Climate change is caused by man-made greenhouse gas emissions. Coal plants are the largest industrial source of carbon dioxide (CO2), the chief global warming gas. Texas’ 19 coal-fired plants are the worst industrial cause of life-threatening, climate triggered perils that we are experiencing. Texas coal-fired plants emit over 150 Million Tonsof CO2 every year – over 99% of Texas coal plant air pollution — is currently unregulated. Defended by Governor Perry, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) and the Texas Public Utility Commission, the Texas coal plants are continuing to heat our atmosphere, fueling the drought conditions leading to wildfires and putting 24 million Texans in harm’s way.
Texans’ health and lives are at risk! Governor Perry and his appointees who lead Texas state agencies must address the biggest root cause of climate change in our state – coal plant CO2 emissions.
OZONE, TOO Beside smoke from wildfires, 18 million Texans are breathing harmful ozone. Ozone is caused when nitrogen oxide emissions from factories like coal plants mix with volatile organic compounds in sunlight creating ground-level smog. According to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), Texans have suffered 56 bad air days in 2011 when the ozone levels were unsafe.
By fighting federal safeguards against ozone, Governor Perry and state agency leaders are denying that serious problem too. They need to wake up to the reality of our ozone problem and help, not hinder, efforts to clean up our air and cool the atmosphere.
To Governor Perry, ERCOT, and PUC, we say: Wake up!
The price tag for drought and wildfire destruction is too high. Losses to Texas’ agriculture alone were about $5.2 billion before the Labor Day weekend fires. We now face greater costs. Ignoring climate change and fighting, rather than supporting, clean energy solutions is costing Texans lives, homes, and jobs.
FIRST RESPONDERS COMMITMENT On the campaign trail, Governor Perry has repeatedly criticized public works programs like the New Deal, yet Texas firefighters fought to protect the beautiful cabins built by New Deal workers in Bastrop State Park this week.
Perry, ERCOT, and the PUC need to respond like our brave fire fighters putting out the blazing wildfires across Texas. The Governor and state leaders must recognize and extinguish the root cause of these problems – the massive burning of coal in coal-fired power plants in Texas. There’s a safer, cleaner, cheaper way, Governor, and the stakes are too high to continue to allow the burning of dirty coal.
Neil Carman, PhD Chemist, Sierra Club Clean Air Program Director, September 9, 2011
Are you ready to defend Texas from a foreign invasion?
A foreign oil company named TransCanada wants to use eminent domain against East Texas landowners to build a risky and dangerous tar sands pipeline connecting Canada to Texas. In addition to threatening our Texas watersheds, tar sands oil will endanger our air quality. It has 11 times more sulfur and nickel, six times more nitrogen, and five times more lead than conventional oil.
If Texas wants to lead the 21st century clean energy economy, then we must move beyond toxic tar sands oil.
Join us this week for public meetings across Texas. If you can't make it, please go online to sign our petition: www.tarsandspetition.com
HOUSTON Thursday, December 16
9:30 - Refinery tour
11:45am - Press Conference
Noon - Volunteer luncheon
Hartmann Community Center at Hartmann Park
9311 E. Avenue P, 77012
Thursday, December 16
6:30 - 8:00pm
Lufkin City Hall, Room 102
300 East Shepherd Avenue, 75901
NACOGDOCHES Friday, December 17
8:30 - 10:00am
Java Jack's Coffee House
1122 North Street, 75961
TYLER Friday, December 17
12:30 - 2:00pm
Sweet Sue's Family Restaurant
3350 South Southwest Loop 323, 75701
Friday, December 17
4:00 - 5:30pm
1708 South Jefferson Ave, 75455
DALLAS Saturday, December 18
La Madeleine Cafe
11930 Preston Rd, 75230
Texans from across the political spectrum are uniting to defend the Lone Star State from the tar sands invasion. Please spread the word about these upcoming public meetings.