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Archive for May 12th, 2009

Hey hey, looks like ReEnergize Texas was featured in a recent article on the New York Times’ Green, Inc blog.  Check it out:

College Students Clamor for “Green Fees”

By Kate Galbraith

College students often protest when administrators threaten to raise their fees.

But rising numbers of students seem willing to self-impose a “green” fee, to help the environment and purchase renewable energy. The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education posts a list of universities that have such fees, which generally hover around $3 to $5 a semester but have increased to $40 a term in the case of Northland College in Wisconsin.

Portland State University is currently voting on whether to establish this kind of fee.

In some states like Florida and Texas, students at public universities have been foiled in their efforts to impose green fees. That is because any fee increase must be approved by the state legislature. The back-and-forth process can easily take four years, according to Trevor Lovell of ReEnergize Texas, a youth coalition pushing for measures to address climate change — by which time the student body will have (hopefully) turned over.

A bill backed by ReEnergize Texas is working its way through the Texas state legislature that would allow university students to impose green fees more easily.

A similar bill in Florida just failed.

“The economic woes of our country coupled with an increase to tuition for state universities, made the members hesitant to enact any more new fees this session,” said Zachary Keith, who coordinated the green-fee effort in Florida, in an e-mail message.

He vowed to try again in the next legislative session, and noted that referendums at big Florida universities have shown solid support.

Texas is trying to avoid Florida’s legislative fate. Amanda Grosgebauer, who has chaired the environmental issues committee at Texas A&M, wrote a letter to the legislature stating that in March, 76 percent of students at her university had favored increased environmental services. “That is more student support for one issue than in the history of the University,” Ms. Grosgebauer wrote, in a letter provided by ReEnergize Texas.

“In the past our efforts have hit against a wall of political preferences — environmental issues are seen as a leftist, radical or an unreasonable luxury,” Ms. Grosgebauer continued. “We are tired of hearing that excuse.”

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Smitty MugSustainLane, an on-line “people powered sustainability guide”, recently wrote an in-depth profile piece on Public Citizen’s own Tom “Smitty” Smith.  For an excellent glimpse of the man behind the machine, our very own white-hat-wearing fearless leader and official “American Changemaker,” check out the following:

‘Smitty’ Wrangles Texans for Environmental Battles

by Amy Linn, SustainLane Staff

Tom “Smitty” Smith is one of the leading lights in the environmental movement, in his home state of Texas and beyond.

A large part of wisdom is awareness; another is putting awareness to good use. Taking both those skills—and using them to win countless battles for people and the planet—has made veteran activist Tom “Smitty” Smith one of the leading lights in the environmental movement, in his home state of Texas and beyond.

For 24 years, Tom “Smitty” Smith has been the Texas director of Public Citizen, a consumer and environmental watchdog group that weighs in on nearly every eco-issue, whether it’s fighting the construction of new coal-fired power plants (an ongoing struggle), pushing for renewable energy (one of the group’s major success stories), or combating global warming. Name a progressive battle in Texas, and Smith’s been there, won that.

It’s a path he says he was primed for by his childhood amid the farm belt of Champaign, Ill. In his 20s—before the word “green” meant anything but a color—Smith fought for anti-pollution laws; after graduating college, he stayed on the eco front lines.

What sparked his interest in this tough (and, on bad days, Sisyphusian) line of work?

“My parents,” he says, without hesitation. “When I was a kid we went for walks every Sunday. And they taught me how wonderful nature was, and how little damage it took to the balance of our ecological system to turn a pure little stream into a muddy slough. And they taught me about the impact of pesticides on birds and animals.” (more…)

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Check it out!  Texas Vox is now a proud member of the Texas Progressive Alliance, a group of bloggers, blogs, and Netroots activists.  We demand to be taken seriously (and occasionally dance around to The Final Countdown with knives in our teeth).

Alliance photo

Our membership also means that you can look forward to Weekly Round-Up of tasty posts from Alliance members.  Here’s round one:

The city of DISH, TX is one of several municipalities that have already adopted a resolution calling for the repeal of Big Oil’s exemption to the Safe Drinking Water Act. TXsharon gives DISH a high-five and hopes your group, organization, club, city or county will do the same, at at Bluedaze: DRILLING REFORM FOR TEXAS

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is glad the internets have Texas Progressive Alliance! The Republicans have their house of cards and a crazy base.

BossKitty at TruthHugger sees danger in the watered down, dumbed down attempt to educate students by committee. Sanitized History, Truth or Consequences is an example of why education needs serious attention.

Houston political reporter Jane Ely passed away this week. PDiddie collected some recollections of her life at Brains and Eggs.

WhosPlayin was totally absorbed in the municipal elections in Lewisville, and was glad to see conservative radio talk host Winston Edmondson soundly defeated by 30 points in his bid to turn Lewisville into the next Farmers Branch.

Is it a good idea to give TXDOT it’s own taxpayer funded investment bank? Yeah, McBlogger doesn’t think so, either.

Over at TexasKaos, lightseeker thinks it is time to reconsider moral absolutism in politics. He talks about how Obama made progress on this issue nationally and how his tatics may apply in Texas. Check out his posting: Moral Absolutism and Politics – What Obama’s Victory Has to Say to Texas Progressives

Off the Kuff takes a look at the latest polls in the GOP gubernatorial primary.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson has a wrap-up of the action taken on the TxDOT Sunset bill in the House last week, CDA/PPPís kicked to House Transportation Committee.

Neil at Texas Liberal writes that using Twitter in politics may well have the effect of further isolating a narrow elite from the larger mass of folks.

Vince at Capitol Annex discusses the rightwing’s email lobbying campaign against legislation that would have subjected the State Board of Education to Sunset review provisions.

Teddy (aka LiberalTexan) at Left of College Station was back after a month long hiatus and blogging as one of the newest members of the Texas Progressive Alliance. This week Left of College Station covered the Bryan City Council Election (despite being uncontested), and the College Station City Council election campaign for Place 4 and Place 6.

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