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Archive for November 29th, 2010

Texas is at risk of becoming the nation’s radioactive dumping ground. 

The new proposed rules were posted in the Texas Register on Friday, November 24th and the public comment period is through December 26th.  In the meantime, the Texas Low Level Radioactive Waste Compact Commission (TLLRWCC) has scheduled a public hearing on the import/export Rule on December 9th (Thursday) at 10 am.  The meeting will be on the TCEQ campus at 12100 Park 35 Circle, Building E, Room 201 in Austin. (more…)

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According to the British energy giant BP, the cost of generating power by capturing the sun’s energy will fall about 10 percent a year in the next decade until it equals the expense of producing electricity by burning fossil fuels.

As conventional fuel prices rise and solar power falls, generation costs may reach parity in as little as five years for some fossil energy sources, Vahid Fotuhi, Middle East director of BP Solar, said at a conference in Abu Dhabi yesterday. Solar power costs about 20 cents a kilowatt-hour now, he said.

BP’s conviction about this shift in energy parity is evident in their own policies.  They installed about 200 megawatts of solar capacity last year and intend to add 300 megawatts of that generation source this year. BP is also looking at pursuing large-scale solar projects in the Middle East.

To read more about BP’s plans to move forward renewable energy projects in the Middle East, click here.

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People will have through Dec. 26 to provide feedback to a rule published by the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission (the Commission) this weekend that could allow radioactive waste to be shipped from around the country to Andrews County for storage.

As proposed, the rule would give up to 36 states the ability to apply for the disposal of low-level radioactive waste at the Waste Control Specialists site in Andrews County. Presently the guidelines allow only Texas and Vermont — both states part of the compact that was initially established in 1998 — to ship waste there.

On Nov. 13 the Commission voted to allow for the publishing of the rule.  The rule was published in the Texas Register for public review on the Friday after Thanksgiving.  Comments being submitted on the document must be e-mailed or postmarked by midnight on Dec. 26, said Margaret Henderson, interim executive director of the commission.

Public Citizen believes the rule puts Texans in danger. The comment period should be longer than 30 days and the adoption of the rules should be put on hold at least until the Legislature convenes in January.

The comment period taking place now is the last step before the rule is accepted.

We will post additional information on how to comment with some suggested topics later this week.

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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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Bennie Fuelberg, former Pedernales Electric Co-op GM - AAS Photo

With last week’s conviction of Tom Delay, is it too much to hope that another Texas scoundrel gets justice, too?

Less politically charged but no less important, for PEC Director Bennie Fuelberg will go on trial in Fredericksburg, where the trial was moved because the judge decided Fuelberg was unlikely to get a fair trial if tried in Pedernales territory.  He was probably right.

Patrick George of the Austin American Statesman wrote extensively about the trial and the actvities leading up to the trial  this morning.

From the Austin American Stateman article:

In what is arguably the climax to more than three years of lawsuits, grand jury indictments, legislation, allegations of corruption, congressional hearings, reforms and resignations at the Pedernales Electric Cooperative not to mention newspaper stories detailing it all the utility’s former chief executive will go on trial today in Fredericksburg.

Before his June 2009 indictment on felony theft and money laundering charges, former Pedernales General Manager Bennie Fuelberg was one of the Hill Country’s most prominent citizens. Now, his name is often tossed about by co-op leaders and employees as synonymous with scandal and cronyism.

The trial, prosecuted by the Texas attorney general’s office after a Hill Country district attorney stepped aside, could be the completion of Fuelberg’s fall from grace — or it could result in his exoneration.

Fuelberg, who ran the nation’s largest member-owned electric utility for more than 30 years, is charged with misapplication of fiduciary duty in excess of $200,000, theft of property in excess of $200,000 and money laundering between $100,000 and $200,000. The first two charges are first-degree felonies that carry a penalty of up to 99 years in prison if convicted; the last charge is a second-degree felony that carries up to 20 years.

Fuelberg and the co-op’s former outside counsel, Walter Demond, were indicted on identical charges last year after a five-month grand jury investigation. Demond will be tried after Fuelberg. Both have pleaded not guilty. The grand jury’s term has since expired, and no other indictments have been handed up.

The criminal charges stem from accusations that the men arranged for thousands of dollars of co-op money to be paid to relatives of Pedernales executives. According to the indictments, payments exceeding $200,000 went to Curtis Fuelberg, Bennie Fuelberg’s brother, and William Price, the son of former Director E.B. Price. (more…)

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We’re always pleased to post what’s going on with blogs around the state from our friends at the TPA.  Lots of blog posts seemed to revolve around the conviction of Tom DeLay, which we would like to point out that we posted on first here.

The Texas Progressive Alliance hopes you got your recommended allowance of tryptophan last week as it brings you the blog highlights.

Off the Kuff celebrates the DeLay verdict.

Bay Area Houston has a visual suggest to the Judge in the Tom DeLay trial on what to do with DeLay.

Did employers or their representatives provide ‘assistance’ to their employees as they voted in La Joya? CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme would really like to know.

Public Citizen over at TexasVox is getting ready for the Sunset hearings on the TCEQ and Railroad Commission coming up December 15-16 by looking at a national report which gives Texas’ regulatory agencies a D-.

Lightseeker raises a red flag over the morphing of the MSM coverage of Tom DeLay’s conviction. In his piece entitled The DeLay verdict – Politics as usual? Crime and Punishment? Why it Matters he argues that this is simply a case study in why we find it so hard to get our message out. Either out of boredom or malice or laziness or simple lack of time or understanding the MSM often carries water for the other side in how they cover/frame important issues. He wonders what can be done?

Republicans in the Texas Legislature filed a series of anti-immigrant bills, so, Stace at DosCentavos asks the question: Are You Willing to Boycott Texas? It’s a serious question that will come up as these bills go through the process and quite possibly get to the floor.

Sen Jeff Wentworth pre-filed legislation for the coming session that eliminates straight-ticket voting. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs thinks he’s a lone voice of reason on the right.

Reverend Manny at BlueBloggin takes an in depth look at freedom of speech. On the whole, the September FBI crackdowns are symbolic, and a local reminder, of an international repressive wave against transparency, criticism and rational, open dialogue. The Front Lines of Reality: An International Perspective on the Battle over Free Speech.

WhosPlayin brings you a video tour of one of the modern drilling rigs that one company is using to drill in urban areas in the Barnett Shale.

Neil at Texas Liberal visited Austin this past week. He enjoyed his late night drive back home to Houston a great deal. Neil liked this ride so much, he wrote a blog post listing seven reasons the ride was so enjoyable.

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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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