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Archive for January 11th, 2010

Representatives from San Antonio’s CPS Energy and NRG Energy, their partner in the proposed South Texas Nuclear Project expansion, met this morning to try and reach a settlement on their $32 Billion lawsuit.  But CPS acting General Manager Jelynne LeBlanc-Burley apparently walked out of the meeting after learning that “neither Nuclear Innovation North America CEO Steve Winn nor NRG Energy CEO David Crane made the trip to San Antonio.

Update: Monday’s settlement meeting ended with no resolution. Cooperation fail.

Meanwhile, a new non-profit called the Ratepayer Protection Coalition announced its inception and intention to intervene in the CPS-NRG’s lawsuit.

Whaaaa? They can do that? Yes, according to attorney Karen Seal:

In Texas, citizen groups have the right to intervene in lawsuits like this if there is evidence of illegal activity like fraud and misrepresentation and if the behavior is expected to continue. We believe this to be the case. We hope to protect our interest as ratepayers, taxpayers and voters from continuing fraud and misrepresentation by all parties.

But why intervene? Orlando Gutierrez, president of the coalition, had the following to say:

Ratepayers are not represented in the legal proceedings between these parties, although they will bear the brunt of a bad settlement deal with higher electric bills.  There has been fraud and misrepresentation throughout this process. CPS withheld information and misled the public about the $4 billion cost increase throughout the series of eleven district meetings last year. Project partner NRG admits to misrepresenting costs for purposes of negotiation. Both partners deceived the City Council. Yet neither the Council, taxpayers, or voters have independent representation in the Court.

The Ratepayer Protection Coalition is seeking discovery information to “get to the truth” about the costs of the proposed reactors and available energy alternatives.

According to Greg Harman, reporter at the San Antonio Current:

CPS can’t represent the City of San Antonio, argues the Ratepayer Protection Coalition, a collection of familiar faces from the vindicated critics’ pool. Not only has CPS “conducted a campaign of misinformation, disinformation, and deception designed to convince the San Antonio community about the merits of pursuing nuclear power” but threatened the City Council “that a decision not to pursue the nuclear project would lead to the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars spent on the project to date by CPS Energy.”

In short, CPS has “dirty hands” and can’t represent the City of San Antonio in court, according to RPC’s complaint filed this morning in the 37th District Court, joining the CPS-NRG lawsuit as an intervener.

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By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.

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Great editorial in the Dallas Morning News this weekend. We couldn’t agree more :)

Editorial: Texas, a state of denial on pollution rules

To the surprise of no one, the Environmental Protection Agency announced tougher ozone limits this week. The move to tighten pollution standards had long been anticipated as evidence mounted to illustrate the serious health risks associated with smog exposure.

In Texas, a state with notoriously dirty air, the appropriate response from leaders would be to get to work. Significant changes must be made to comply with federal rules – not to mention, to protect the people who live here.

But instead of getting started, too many state leaders just got angry. They seemed shocked – shocked! – that the EPA would dare abide by the science showing significant consequences of allowing a less stringent standard.

Gov. Rick Perry stuck with his three-pronged approach to environmental regulations: deny, deflect, pout.

In his statement, the governor denied the need for tougher ozone limits, somehow conflating smog rules with carbon dioxide regulations and suggesting that flawed science spurred this week’s announcement.

In fact, scientists have found that ozone exposure damages our lungs and is linked to heart and respiratory illnesses. Smog can be deadly. By lumping ozone standards in with climate change legislation, Perry only confuses the issue.

The governor also deflected suggestions that the state has less than pristine air. He focused on Texas’ modest anti-pollution efforts, ignoring the fact that our skies are still dangerously dirty.

And Perry pouted, arguing that the EPA has made Texas workers and taxpayers a target. Some of Perry’s allies have echoed that idea, asserting that the new administration has been hostile to the state.

The EPA is not picking on Texas.

The same pollution standards will apply to every state. Inhaling smog-choked air is a dicey proposition, no matter where folks live.

Admittedly, complying with the new rules will be tougher for Texas than many other states. That’s because years of plugging our ears, closing our eyes and pretending that new pollution rules weren’t looming did not leave Texas in a state of preparedness.

Implementing the lower ozone limits will come at a cost. But, the EPA notes, the new rules should yield comparable savings by reducing illnesses, emergency room visits and lost work days resulting from ozone-related symptoms.

The state now must get started on a serious ozone reduction strategy. Deny, deflect, pout doesn’t seem to be working.

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By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.

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Op-ed originally published in Sunday’s Amarillo Globe:

Column – Andy Wilson: Perry spews hot air on warming

AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry’s recent essay (“EPA ‘science’ doesn’t add up in global warming equation,” Dec. 27, 2009) is full of hot air and not much else.

The governor’s outrage produces more heat than light, revealing his ignorance of science and penchant for quoting dubious and discredited economic studies funded by energy companies.

The real inconvenient truth is that Texas cannot afford to make meaningless political statements any longer, especially when there’s work to be done – carbon regulation is coming whether the governor throws a tantrum or not. We can shout at the wind or harness it into a clean energy future.

Planning for a low-carbon future now will pay dividends in the future as the world comes to Texas for the clean energy we can supply in abundance. But if we choose to pout rather than produce, we risk missing the clean energy train.

Already, Texas wind turbines are providing electricity, not to mention jobs and tax revenue, and we’re blessed with some of the best solar potential of any state. According to data from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, West Texas families pay less for their electricity, thanks in large part to all those wind farms. Peer-reviewed economic studies, including one by the Union of Concerned Scientists, show Texas families stand to save $980 annually in energy costs by enacting clean-energy legislation.

The scare-tactics scenarios the governor laid out use phony statistics from studies underwritten by dirty energy lobbyists who are afraid of competition from these low-carbon upstarts. If you dig deeper into these studies, even under their highest cost projections, U.S. economic growth remains robust and millions of new jobs are created, hundreds of thousands of which would be in Texas.

Given our high-tech, manufacturing, and energy leadership experience, Texas should be attracting green energy technologies already. But instead, we’re losing major solar and battery manufacturing to states which are less sunny but more savvy, such as Pennsylvania and Michigan.

Maybe Perry should spend less time posturing and complaining about science he doesn’t understand and more time enacting strong policies to attract clean energy jobs and industry to Texas, the same way Amarillo has in their recent announcement to bring as many as 750 new wind turbine manufacturing jobs to the area.

The truth about the hacked e-mails Perry references that purport to discredit global warming is this: It’s a tempest in a teapot, and every scientist knows it. If we’re looking for a “smoking gun” that disproves the settled science of climate change, we would need glaciers and ice caps to stop melting at record levels worldwide. We would need temperatures and drought throughout Texas to recede, rather than having the last decade be the hottest and driest on record.

Since we only depend on the research of scientists at the University of East Anglia, a town and university so small, I challenge you to find it on a map, for a very small portion of the corpus of scientific knowledge on climate change, we would need much more than a few choice words from scientists behaving badly to contradict that. To discount all climate science based only on these emails would be the same as disqualifying University of Texas from playing in the Rose Bowl because of the criminal misbehavior by one of their bench wide receivers.

But the good news is that whether you believe in global warming or not, all of our tools to solve it are the same tools we need to solve our current crises and create a better future for Texans.

Worried about unemployment? Energy security? The loss of American manufacturing? Clean energy development cuts into all of these problems, and just happens to help save the planet while we’re at it.

Everybody wins.

So at the start of a new decade, let’s be winners, not whiners. Texas should be getting in front of federal legislation and putting in place the policies that ensure that the nation will turn to us for their future renewable energy needs for the 21st century, the same way they have for the past century with oil and gas.

Doing anything less, Gov. Perry, certainly seems … well, un-Texan.

Andy Wilson is the Global Warming Program director for Public Citizen’s Texas Office.

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By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.

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With blue lips and chattering teeth, the Texas Progressive Alliance brings you a hot steaming mug of blog highlights for the week.

This week on Left of College Station: the filling deadline has ended and the primaries in the Brazos Valley are crowded with candidates. Also, a look at who tweets among the primary candidates for Texas Congressional District 17 and which does not want Left of College Station to follow their tweets. Teddy also takes a look at the modern day slavery of human trafficking, and how Houston has become one of the biggest hubs for the modern day slave trade. Left of College Station also covers the week in headlines.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson posts on the Texas GOP’s inability to govern and the opportunities that provides for Democrats, GOP divisions can bring Democratic gains in Texas.

The Denton County candidates are ready to go at the Texas Cloverleaf.

How does Texas compare with other states? A statistical analysis with graphs reveals the truth at Bluedaze: DRILLING REFORM FOR TEXAS.

Off the Kuff has a modest suggestion for how to handle Harris County’s current budget shortfall.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme agrees it’s time to put our money in community banks.

Thinking and acting both locally and globally, Neil at Texas Liberal sent membership donations to both Greenpeace and the Democratic Women of Denton County.

After a noted anti-gay and Republican activist filed to run as a Democrat against an unchallenged incumbent GOP county commissioner, investigation determined that the man used the wrong address and was disqualified from the ballot. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs has more on the story.

Bay Area Houston nominates Dave Wilson for the “Dripping with Hypocrisy” award with One Man. No Woman.

WhosPlayin has the story of a public servant who manages a $13 million facility, where he works for the taxpayer by day, and for the private club that rents the facility at night.

McBlogger sees some problems with Sen. Hutchison’s ad taking on 39% and some of the people making excuses for 39%.

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By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.

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The full documentary Fighting Goliath: Texas Coal Wars about the fight against the TXU coal rush in Texas is now online and Hulu. Watch it here. Or, if you’re not sold yet, check out this preview:

Fighting Goliath was produced by the Sundance Preserve and narrated by Robert Redford.  It features our very own Director Tom “Smitty” Smith and covers a years-long battle against coal that is still ongoing today.  As Redford has said about the film,

The heart of this film is really about issues of health, future generations and the value of our own land and resources. The film was made to support the story of the Texas coalition and their struggle against a giant power company. It is our way of giving other states and communities a model for what can happen when people take personal responsibility and get results. We want to let people know that they don’t have to give up hope.

Though 8 of the 11 TXU plants were canceled, the remaining 3 have been built and have begun operations – and they are dirtier than the 8 canceled plants combined. What’s more, there are 12 more coal plants either in the permitting process or being built in Texas – more new plant proposals than any other state in the country. Visit CoalBlock.org and StopTheCoalPlant.org for more information.

The film will also be shown on PBS during the months of January and February throughout Texas. Not all locations and times are solidified yet, but so far we have:

January 8, in College Station, Dallas, El Paso, Harlingen

January 9, in Houston

January 10, in Killeen

January 11, in Lubbock

January 21 at 8:30pm in Austin, Amarillo, Corpus Christi

Thursday, January 21 at 9:30pm and repeats Sunday January 24th at 1:30 pm for Waco

*Sometime* in January or February Midland/Odessa:

February 18 at 9pm in San Antonio

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By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.

Read Full Post »