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Archive for April 24th, 2009

Charlie Gonzalez Update!!

Tomorrow morning at the King William Parade in San Antonio, we’ve got a great opportunity to put some pressure on Congressman Charlie Gonzalez to support strong cap and trade legislation.  Done right, a cap and trade bill would bring San Antonio thousands of green jobs, increased energy efficiency programs, and renewable energy.  Done wrong, it would force families and consumers to pay for industry and utilities’ right to pollute without a considerable reduction in carbon emissions.

So far, Congressman Gonzalez has come out in support of the latter :( He is a swing vote on this issue, and how he decides to vote may influence many other important legislators.

Lucky for us, we’ll have him as a captive audience at the parade tomorrow.  He’ll be riding on a float in the parade, and that’s our
chance to make an impact when he least expects it.

Please join us tomorrow morning.  We’ll be meeting up at the 8 AM at the San Antonio Peace Center, at 1443 S. St. Mary’s — but don’t let the early hour scare you, if you can’t make it out before breakfast, the parade doesn’t start until 10.  Come by — we’ll have banners, materials to make a signs, and sign on letters.  Costumes are encouraged — after all it is a party :)

Free parking will be available at 1901 S Alamo Street.

For more information on this issue, check out the following statement from Andy Wilson, our Global Warming Program Director on how U.S. Rep. Charlie Gonzalez Wants to Give San Antonio’s Municipal Utility a Free Ride

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According to a Bloomberg article this morning, San Antonio Representative Charlie Gonzalez has joined

a group of Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee (who) want to give utilities free permits for all their existing carbon emissions, according to people familiar with a plan sent to the committee’s chairman.

The article continues:

Representative Rick Boucher of Virginia sent the four-page list of recommendations to Henry Waxman, the committee’s chairman and the author of draft climate-change legislation that some of his fellow Democrats are seeking to temper, said the people, who declined to be identified before the plan is made public. Courtney Lamie, Boucher’s spokeswoman, didn’t respond to e-mail and phone messages.

Waxman’s measure would establish a cap-and-trade system of pollution credits designed to cut carbon dioxide 20 percent from 2005 levels by 2020. He needs to win the support of Boucher and the other Democrats pushing for changes in his plan because no Republicans are likely to vote for it, Representative Gene Green, a Texas Democrat, said yesterday.

“It’s all about the consumer,” said Representative Charles Gonzalez of Texas, whose San Antonio-area district has oil and gas operations. “It’s also the economic interests of a member’s district or region.”

Charlie Gonzalez just doesn’t have his facts straight on this one.  If you’re really concerned about consumers, giving away pollution credits for free is about the worst way you can write this bill.  Giving away allowances would force customers to pay for industry and utilities’ right to pollute without even cutting carbon emissions.  There is a right and a very wrong way to write a good climate change bill, and Charlie is supporting the wrong way.

EPA’s most recent analysis say that giving away pollution credits is “highly regressive”, meaning it hurts low-income families the most.  At best, this is a bailout and a free ride for the polluters.  At worst it will create windfall profits for huge energy companies at the expense of every lower and middle income family in Texas.  However, an auction fixes these problems.  EPA continues:

“Assuming that the bulk of the revenues from the program are returned to households, the cap-and-trade policy has a relatively modest impact on U.S. consumers. . . . Returning the revenues in this fashion could make the median household, and those living at lower ends of the income distribution, better off than they would be without the program

A good climate change bill will create billions of dollars of revenue by charging large polluters for the dangerous pollutants they’ve been emitting for decades.  This money could then be returned to taxpayers, particularly low-income households, to protect them from any price increases that energy industries may try to pass through to consumers.  Another portion of the money could also be used to pursue aggressive energy efficiency programs, so that citizens can save even more money by using less electricity.  Every dollar spent on energy efficiency will then also help reinvigorate local economy by putting people back to work doing energy audits and retrofitting inefficient homes.

Congressman Charlie Gonzalez needs to hear that what consumers really need is energy efficiency, renewable energy, lower electric bills and less pollution — not more industry giveaways.  So far, it looks like he’s only heard from the lobbyists for the big polluters.  We’ve heard that  Congressman Gonzalez will cast a deciding vote on whether Texans will be given the tools to forge a new, green economy, or left unprotected from the worst effects of extreme weather and high energy prices.

Congressman Charlie Gonzalez is the swing vote on this issue.  Please pick up the phone and call him.  The phone number for his DC office is (202) 225-3236 and his office in San Antonio is (210) 472-6195.  You can also email his office from his website

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Representative Mark Strama has crafted a genius amendment to HB 3405. The bill, co-authored bypicture-1 Representative Swinford and Representative Anchia, calls for an incentive program for solar power generation through surcharges on utility bills, and Mark Strama is looking at how Texas Schools specifically could benefit from the construction of solar panels on their rooftops.

Strama pointed out that schools are already architecturally perfect for laying out photovoltaic panels. School’s roofs are almost completely flat and in direct sunlight — So why not blanket them with solar panels?

And talk about two birds with one stone—Strama’s plan would also help out with that ever-present issue of funding for Texas education. Not only would schools save on utility bills, but they could actually generate revenue. Energy usage is cut back during the summer months when school is out of session, and that extra energy could be sold right back into the grid at a profit.

Some schools already have some solar panels in place, but these systems are paltry in comparison to Strama’s vision. With over 8,000 schools in Texas, can you imagine how that would affect Texas’ distributed solar production?

Of course, the price tag is the only factor that could hold this plan back. Still, with so much energy savings in the future, this one looks like it will be tough to shove under the table.

Watch KXAN’s news coverage here.

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