Archive for July 18th, 2008

A new study from Tom Brikowski, a geosciences professor at the University of Texas at Dallas, and Drs. Yair Lotan and Margaret Pearle, urology professors at UT Southwestern Medical School, printed in this week’s issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, made an interesting conclusion. More global warming will mean more kidney stones. For those of us who are at risk for or have a family history of kidney stones (it’s because of all the Diet Coke I drink), this is even more worrisome.

The good news is we can easily change our diets and reduce other risk factors. Switching to non-carbon producing forms of energy and transportation may not be quite so easy. However, just like kicking a bad Diet Coke habit. we can get ourselves off of oil and especially coal by making new investments in renewable energy.

Kidney stones are just the beginning of the health problems we can prevent by stopping global warming. We can prevent the spread of previously tropical and exotic disease like malaria and West Nile virus that can migrate as the climate changes. By stopping greenhouse gas pollution we can also stop the pollution that leads to asthma, emphysema, and other lung ailments. And by investing in efficiency and renewable energy now, we can have cheaper energy and get more bang for our energy buck.

Read the story in the Dallas Morning News on this subject here.


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An intern brigade (Adrien, Melissa, and I) traveled out to South Austin earlier this month to show Public Citizen support at the San Francisco de Asis Episcopal Church’s ribbon cutting ceremony for their solar panel installation. On top of the good work of this church’s affiliated mission, El Buen Samaritano, which provides health care and education for the church community, San Francisco de Asis is now doing good for the wider community as a producer of clean energy. And Reverend Jose Palma says the solar panels will save the church $10,000 a year (!!) in electric bills.

The church has also made this installation their own—the solar panels on the roof form the shape of a cross.

Adrien and I with Reverend Jose Palma--if you look closely you can see the solar panels forming a cross on the roof of the church building behind us

Adrien and I with Reverend Jose Palma--if you look closely you can see the solar panels forming a cross on the roof of the church building behind us

Laura from Austin Energy told us that the City of Austin’s funding of solar rebates is what makes these kind of installations possible. Although Austin Energy and CPS Energy in San Antonio offer good rebate programs and all Texas residents are eligible for a small federal rebate, the state of Texas has yet to establish a comprehensive rebate program so that all Texans can take advantage of the abundant sun here.

The More You Know:

CBS News recently aired this report on the future of solar energy:


If you are interested in installing your own solar panels you can check out the websites for the Texas Solar Power Company (who installed San Francisco de Asis’ panels) or Mehr Solar’s Texas page.

Related links:

– Natalie Messer

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You so CRE-Z

So the Public Utility Commission of Texas announced today that they will go with Scenario 2 on CREZ (Competitive Renewable Energy Zone).

This explains what’s going on pretty well.


CPS Energy looks kind of ridiculous in it. They originally endorsed Scenario 1b (the least amount of transmission to be considered), but last week the Express-News reported on their change of tune.

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Today’s Dallas Morning News editorializes about banning phthalates, (pronounced THAL-ates), a chemical made from petroleum that makes plastics bendable and has already been banned in Europe, California, Washington, and even Mexico. Among the top products that use phthalates in their plastics? Children’s toys. As a father of two children under the age of 3 whose toys invariably end up in their mouths, whether these post a health risk is of obvious concern to me.

Both the House and Senate overwhelmingly passed legislation to reform the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which oversees product safety and consumer protection, but the Senate’s version included a phtalate ban- the House’s version did not. Now, while in the conference committee designed to reconcile the two versions of the bill, special interests are attempting to keep the phthalate ban out of the final bill.


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