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Archive for August 26th, 2009

boxingUPDATE: The streaming audio from last night’s event was, unfortunately, very hard to listen to — but folks who weren’t willing to wade through the feedback can watch our video of the town hall in its entirety, which we should be able to post in the next couple days :)

Tonight KSTX will host a Town Hall on Energy in San Antonio to provide the forum we’ve all been waiting for — an honest and open debate of whether or not SA should invest in two new nuclear reactors and the safe, clean alternatives that SA can choose to meet its future energy needs.

The Clean Technology Forum will provide an opportunity for a similar opportunity for this discussion — but at $50 a pop, only the most well-heeled San Antonians will be able to attend.  KSTX’s Town Hall, by contrast, will be free and open to the public.  Folks who would like to attend in person should plan on being at the McAllister Auditorium at San Antonio College (SAC) from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm — but if you can’t make it, never fear.  KSTX will be streaming the conversation live from their website www.tpr.org, as well as carrying the town hall on the radio at 89.1 FM. You can also submit your question on Facebook or Twitter — three cheers for interactivity!

Should be a good show — maybe even a bit of a sparring match, judging by the panelists.  In one corner we’ve got: Michael Kotara, Executive Vice President for Energy Development, CPS Energy and Mayor Julián Castro, who supports the nuclear option even though he would rather San Antonio own 20% rather than 40% of the new reactors.  In the other, Lanny Sinkin, Executive Director, Solar San Antonio and co-founder of Citizens Against Nuclear Power and Public Citizen’s own Tom “Smitty” Smith, whitehat extraordinaire and lifelong agitator of the nuclear bad guys (because, as Smitty likes to repeat “you’ve got to agitate to get the dirt out“).

Texas Vox will be on hand to videotape the town hall, and you can follow our tweets live from @publiccitizentx.  Be sure to look for a follow up blog post and video in the next couple days!

Our regular readers already know how we feel about the issue at Public Citizen: San Antonio citizens can’t afford the huge 50% rate hikes that would result from involvement in the proposed nukes at South Texas Project. The billions that San Antonio would sink into the nuclear money pit should instead be spent in San Antonio, creating local jobs in energy efficiency, retrofitting homes and businesses, and developing clean renewable energy technologies including solar, wind and geothermal power.

Hope you can make it out to the event, listen in, or follow up on our post and videos tomorrow!  Look for event details and panelist bios after the jump.

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Sen. Edward Kennedy was a dear friend of Public Citizen and a unique person in the Congress whose history and leadership will never be forgotten. Few did as much to advance civil rights and social justice issues as Sen. Kennedy, who also was an early and longtime champion of health care for all. Over the years, he worked with Public Citizen on issues key to the public health and safety. He conveyed a message to our members at our 35th anniversary, calling Public Citizen “an effective voice protecting the fundamental rights of all Americans.” In fact,the most effective voice over the past four decades was Sen. Kennedy’s.

For decades, Sen. Kennedy played a pivotal role on issues important to consumers. He was a leader in advocating health care reform, strong and effective regulation of drugs and medical devices, and maintaining injured consumers’ access to the court system. Sen. Kennedy also succeeded in expanding the Freedom of Information Act, thereby ensuring the public had access to more government records. In each of these areas, his leadership was invaluable to helping Public Citizen achieve its goals.

Along with Public Citizen, he was an early proponent of curbing the influence of drug companies over doctors. Almost 20 years ago, in December 1990, when the topic was largely unheard of, Sen. Kennedy held hearings on the bribing of doctors by pharmaceutical companies. His early leadership raised public awareness about the issue and paved the way for state legislation designed to curb industry influence over doctors.

He was a champion for so many and will be greatly missed.

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The US Chamber of Commerce wants to put the science of global warming on trial.  Not only that, they themselves claim they want this trial to be similar to the Scopes Monkey Trial where a Tennessee teacher was put on trial for teaching evolution, made even more famous by the play and film “Inherit the Wind.”

Seriously?  SERIOUSLY?

Because the only way to respond to this is through mockery and derision (surely they can’t actually be serious?), we present to you:

INHERIT THE HOT AIR!!! (a comedy in 3 acts)

We apologize for the numerous Saturday Night Live circa 1989 references (especially the somewhat obscure “Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer“) and the blatant callbacks to Inherit the Wind, and also ask people to please NOT place plastic bags on their heads and inhale deeply.  No Andys were harmed in the filming of this video and I was able to breathe freely at all times.  I promise.

On a serious note, what the Chamber is trying to do is to overturn and stall a process which is well underway.  In 2007, the Supreme Court in Massachusetts v EPA stated that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, it is linked to climate change, and the EPA should regulate it under the Clean Air Act.  In compliance with this ruling, (and only after delays by the Bush Administration which kept this action from occurring), the EPA earlier this year presented an initial endangerment finding, the first step in allowing them to regulate CO2 and other greenhouse gases.  They then opened the finding for public comment, which could be sent in by writing, and also held public meetings in Arlington, VA and Seattle, WA to gather public input.

According to documents posted at the Wonk Room, the US Chamber’s main argument is that previous public comment periods have somehow “Tainted” the process and that only an elaborate show trial, orchestrated by them and by putting their junk scientists on the stand, can eliminate the “taint.”  (And you know, “Tainted Endangerment Finding” was one of my favorite 80’s songs.)

So, according to the Chamber, public comment is bad, but the opinion of big business and their sham scientists can remove the stain from input by the witless masses.

All of this seems far too much like the plot of a Coen Brothers (or Marx Brothers) movie.  These are serious times which require serious thought and reflection, not comical misdirection.  But like the Fool in King Lear, only through comedy can we confront the tragedy that surrounds us and point out the serious misdeeds taking place.  And this sham by the Chamber of Commerce is even more destructive, because as long as we keep endlessly debating “Is It Happening?” we will never get around to “How Do We Solve It?”

In the words of Stan Lee, “Nuff Said.”

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