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Archive for the ‘Global Warming’ Category

San Antonio rally to support signing on to the Climate Mayor’s pledge. Photo by Brendan Gibbons /San Antonio Express-News

With the recent election of Mayor Ron Nirenberg and six new council members, San Antonio is much better positioned now than it was a few months ago to take a leadership role in combating climate change.

At its first meeting, the newly sworn in council adopted a resolution committing to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adopting the goals the U.S. set in the Paris Climate Accord under President Obama. As a result, Mayor Nirenberg added his name to a pledge from over 350 U.S. mayors in the Climate Mayors association, stating their commitment to climate action, even though President Trump has committed to remove the U.S. from the agreement.

Local action to reduce greenhouse gas emission is more important than ever, both to compensate for the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, and because the climate crisis is becoming more and more urgent all the time. A majority of Americans live in cities, and cities – especially large cities like San Antonio – have the ability to directly control or influence systems that are responsible for significant greenhouse gas emissions. Cities have control over energy codes for buildings, local transportation planning, land use plans, and waste collection. And some cities – including San Antonio – have the added benefit of owning their own municipal electric utilities.

San Antonio has taken the first step of publicly committing to take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help the U.S. meet the commitment it made to the rest of the world. The next step is to set specific goals for greenhouse gas reductions and develop a plan to make that possible. Because there is a lot of infrastructure that isn’t controlled by cities that will continue driving up greenhouse gas emissions under Trump’s industry-friendly policies, cities are going to have to be very aggressive to keep the U.S. as a whole on track to meet its Paris goals. Even before Trumps election, cities have been adopting aggressive greenhouse gas reduction goals and plans to meet those goals. In 2014, the Austin City Council adopted a goal for the entire Austin community to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 or sooner, if possible.

Now is the time for the San Antonio City Council to keep up the momentum by adopting an aggressive greenhouse gas reduction goal for the community and starting the process of developing a climate action plan to achieve the adopted goal. Given that San Antonio controls the electric utility that serves the city, a net zero greenhouse gas goal should be given strong consideration. Both adequate funding and a framework that will allow broad and meaningful community participation in development of the plan will be important.

Public Citizen is part of a coalition working to promote adoption of a San Antonio climate action plan. If you live in San Antonio and want to get involved in this work, email me at [email protected]

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UPDATE – The Senate Business & Commerce Committee will meet at 9:00 AM, Saturday, July 22, 2017 in the Texas capitol hearing room E1.016 to hear testimony on SB 14 by Hall – relating to a property owner’s right to remove a tree or vegetation.  If you are in Austin  this weekend, considering stopping by the capitol and testifying or even just registering your position against this bill at one of the House registration kiosks in the capitol extension.  (do this before the hearing starts at 9:00 AM to make sure your position is documented.

Contributed by Citizen Rita

Recently in Dallas, two developers made the mistake of butchering trees on two different sites causing an uproar in both North (pictured) and South Dallas. This action currently violates Dallas’ tree ordinance which could be put in jeopardy if Governor Abbott gets his way. Photo by Rita Beving

This week marks the start of the Special Session at the Texas Legislature.  Governor Abbott has put forward a wish list of twenty agenda items including a bill that would prevent cities from regulating what property owners can do with trees on private land.

Already during the 85th legislative session, bills attempted to take an axe to local control and city tree ordinances including one by Representative Workman (HB 1572) who devised a bill to allow trees to be cut down if the owner felt a tree(s) posed a “fire risk.”  Other bills such as one by Senator Kolkhorst (SB 744), would have given developers more latitude in a city that imposes a tree mitigation fee by allowing developers to apply for a credit if they plant trees elsewhere, instead of paying the mitigation fee.  Both bills failed to become law, though Kolkhorst’s bill made it all the way to the finish line, only to be vetoed in the end by Governor Abbott.

Perhaps the Governor’s veto pen was triggered with an aspiration to deal trees a more fatal blow with a sweeping bill in the Special Session to take total local control away on all city tree ordinances across the state.  Abbott has tapped Senator Bob Hall of Rockwall, who unsuccessfully tried to take away cities ability to have bag bans, as his champion to carry the tree ordinance ban in the Senate (SB 14).  In the House, Abbott recruited  Representative Workman, the author of the failed tree fire risk bill, and whose roots (pardon the pun) are in the construction business, to head up the efforts (HB 70).

There are more than 50 cities in Texas with ordinances that protect trees on private property that would be affected if this proposed legislation passed.

Thwarting the preservation of mature trees is not only short-sighted but also short changes the value of a property.  Numerous national surveys including one by the University of Washington show that towering trees increase the value of a property by 7 to 19 percent.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one healthy tree next to one’s home can provide the cooling effect of ten air conditioners operating 20 hours a day.  According to the USDA Forest Service, trees properly placed around a building can reduce air conditioning costs by as much as 30% and can save between 20 to 50% of the energy used in heating.

Trees help our urban climate in many ways.  They keep cities cooler and reduce air pollution, as less fossil fuel is needed to generate electricity to air condition buildings. Trees also help clean the air by taking in carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen.  Additionally, trees contribute to improving the health of our local communities by collecting and hold dust pollution.

Management Information Services has estimated that the average value of the 60 million plus street trees in this country have an average value of $525.00 per tree.

So what’s not to like about trees, especially beautiful mature ones?

Well, critics speculate that Governor Abbott wants this bill partially out a personal vendetta against the City of Austin which told him that he couldn’t chop down a pecan tree in his backyard without replacing it or paying into the reforestation fund.  It’s also been said that the Governor thinks protecting trees is a “socialist” view and that it “violates private property rights.”

Tell Governor Abbott he needs to see the forest through the trees and realize the “green” in “green.” Abbott shouldn’t use a personal incident to destroy the value that the rest of us see and realize on our properties by taking away the power of local municipalities to pass and execute their tree ordinances.

Urge your Texas Legislator to block any attempts during the special session to eliminate cities’ abilities to protect old growth trees to cool our homes and in turn, our cities.

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Last week, U.S. Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL), succeeded in rushing his Yucca Mountain high-level radioactive waste dump legislation past the Environment and the Economy Subcommittee he chairs.

Now the bill (HR 3053, the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendment Acts of 2017) moves on to the full U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee.  Full committee mark up is currently expected to take place next Wednesday, June 28th.

If passed there, it would then move on to the full House floor for consideration. If ultimately passed into law, H.R.3053, the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2017, would launch unprecedented thousands of truck, train, and/or barge shipments of irradiated nuclear fuel, through 45 states, bound for Nevada. These shipments would pass through the heart of many major cities. They would also pass through 370 of the 435 congressional districts across the U.S.!  But before that, it would expedite the opening of centralized interim storage sites for radioactive waste in Texas and/or New Mexico, multiplying the risks.  WCS has applied for a site in Andrews County Texas and the Eddy Lea Energy Alliance, working with Holtec, has applied for a site near Hobbs and Carlsbad, NM.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry just dropped a bombshell proposal this week, at a U.S. House hearing, to also do interim storage at the Nevada Nuclear Weapons Test Site, before ultimately burying the wastes at Yucca, all against the state’s will, without its consent.

Each shipment, whether to a permanent storage site or one of the proposed “interim” storage sites, represents a potential Dirty Bomb on Wheels risk, whether due to severe accident or intentional attack. The hazardous gamma radiation that could be emitted would expose persons who are too close (e.g. living along the shipping route, getting stuck next to a shipment in traffic, etc.) to a myriad of health impacts.  Transportation routes to either the proposed west Texas or New Mexico interim storage sites would likely have nuclear waste traveling through the DFW metroplex area, Houston and San Antonio, depending upon where the waste originated.  This is an issue that Texans should weigh in on.  Dallas, Midland, San Antonio and Andrews County have already passed resolutions asking that radioactive waste not be transported through  their communities.  What can you do?

Urge your U.S. Representative to block this dangerous legislation, by voting against HR 3053 and urging their U.S. House colleagues to do the same.

The bill itself: http://docs.house.gov/meetings/IF/IF00/20170628/106210/BILLS-1153053ih.pdf

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Janis and Evan Bookout speaking in support of renewable energy to protect the climate (Photo courtesy of Al Braden, www.albradenphoto.com)

Yesterday morning, Austinites took time out of their day to show up at City Hall and let the Austin City Council know that we expect real leadership when it comes to adopting an updated Austin Energy Resource, Generation and Climate Protection Plan.  Many joined us in a call for carbon-free by 2030, and 75% renewable energy by 2027 goals.  The other common theme we are supporting is the need for additional programs to make the benefits of distributed solar accessible to low-income residents, renters and those in multifamily housing.

Join us at the public hearing on August 10 to call for a rapid transition to clean, renewable energy, while improving equity.

This process started last November with the creation of the Electric Utility Commission Resource Planning Working Group (which was partially appointed by Austin Energy).  But after months of meetings, the working group recommendations (which have been endorsed by Austin Energy) fall well short of leadership on either climate protection or energy equity.  The recommendations call for only 65% renewable energy by 2027, limited or no increases for energy efficiency, local solar and energy storage goals, and no solid commitments to improve access to distributed solar.

Thankfully, the Austin City Council is the board of directors for Austin Energy, so we all get a chance to weigh in with our elected officials to call for a plan that represents Austin values – doing right by our planet and our neighbors

That’s what the public hearing is for, so please mark your calendar.

At least 32 U.S. cities have committed to a 100 percent renewable energy goal and 5 have already achieved this goal.  If Austin is to claim leadership on combating climate change, a commitment to 100% carbon-free energy is needed.  This, of course, implies that all of Austin Energy’s fossil fuel generators would need to be retired.  That would include the natural gas-fired power plants at Decker Creek and Sand Hill, both located on the east side of Austin.  This would improve air quality in the city and end our utility’s contribution to fracking, which is responsible for groundwater contamination, air pollution (including methane – a powerful greenhouse gas), earthquakes and destroyed roads in Texas and other states.  With all of these harmful side effects of energy production, it is those with the fewest options and opportunities – those with the least among us – who are hardest hit.  It’s on all of us – as Austinites – to stop contributing to these negative outcomes as quickly as possible.

Daniel Llanes, of PODER – People Organized in Defense of Earth and her Resources, speaking in support of a transition away from fossil fuels to renewable energy to protect the climate; and for greater and more diverse public input (Photo courtesy of Al Braden, www.albradenphoto.com)

As we transition to clean energy, we can and should ensure that the benefits flow to everyone in our community.  As the price of solar energy has increased, more residents and businesses are going solar to reduce their bills and their impact on the environment. There is now financing available for those who can’t pay up front, making solar accessible to middle-income residents.  That’s good news, but solar has still been out of reach for those with poor credit, renters and those living in multifamily housing (either apartments or condominiums).  Making solar accessible for these populations is challenging, but utilities, governments and non-profits around the country are digging in to find solutions.  San Antonio’s CPS Energy already has a successful solar program, called Solar Host, which is accessible to low-income residents.  What we want is for Austin Energy to take on these challenges and embrace new solutions.  Local solar goals should be expanded and incentive budgets maintained to make solar an option for Austinites at all income levels and in all types of housing.

If these ideas speak to your values, please come to the public hearing on August 10 to speak your mind.

Goals are only useful if they are high enough to spur innovation and action beyond what is already happening.  We want Austin to be ambitious in taking on climate change and equity.

Here’s what we’re asking for (3rd column):

 

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Oppose Texas House Bill 2662

UPDATE:  HB2662 Passed with an amendment by the author that took all the bad elements out and left reporting by TCEQ in.  Thanks for all of you who took action.  You made a difference.

The Texas House of Representatives is set to vote on a bill that could allow for the expansion of radioactive waste disposal in Texas.

That’s right – some Texas lawmakers actually want to bring more radioactive waste to our state.

Ask your Texas state representative to vote “no” on House Bill 2662 to stop the unnecessary expansion of radioactive waste disposal in Texas.

Most states fight to keep such waste from being shipped to their communities, but Texas lawmakers are more worried about helping out the private company that owns the disposal site than protecting Texans.

Waste Control Specialists (WCS) is already deep in debt and looking for a buyout. It defies all reason to let a failing company expand in such a dangerous line of work.  

If the company goes bankrupt, Texans will be left to foot the bill for cleaning up or continuing to store this radioactive waste.

Email your Texas state representative now to oppose this bad bill.

 

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Texas: The Next Solar Frontier

Networking event at last year’ Solar Power Texas

Mark your calendar for Solar Power Texas, June 13-14, 2017 in Austin, Texas. With solar booming in the Lone Star stateleading the U.S. in use of renewable energy, increasing your visibility and company in the Texas market is more important than ever.  Click here for registration information or click on Texas_Infographic(1) for a flyer on the event.

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The U.S. EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation (OAR) is holding a public meeting via teleconference on April 24, 2017 so that we can listen and learn from those directly impacted by our regulations. The focus of this teleconference will be on air and radiation actions only. We invite you to provide input on these rules during the public teleconference. Information on joining the teleconference and submitting comments through the docket are below. For questions about this process, please contact [email protected].

OAR’s public teleconference will be an operator assisted call. The call with start with brief remarks from EPA and the remainder of the call will be dedicated to listening to public input. Participants wishing to speak or listen do not need to register in advance for the teleconference. To hear the opening remarks, please dial in 10 minutes before the start time. You may call into the teleconference at any time during the three-hour period.

If you wish to speak, at any time, you may nominate yourself to speak by hitting *1 on your phone. Your name will be added to a queue. Speakers will be asked to deliver 3 minutes of remarks and will be called on a first come, first served basis. OAR will do our best to hear from everyone who wishes to speak. The teleconference will be transcribed and will be added to the docket. If you do not have the opportunity to speak on the call, please submit your input to the EPA-wide docket (docket number: EPA-HQ-OA-2017-0190; https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=EPA-HQ-OA-2017-0190). OAR will give equal consideration to input provided through either of these methods.

For more information on upcoming public engagement opportunities offered by other EPA offices please visit: https://www.epa.gov/laws-regulations/regulatory-reform

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You might think that an industry that manages to reduce electricity prices, create over 23,000 Texas jobs and reduce air pollution all at the same time might have just about universal support.  But no.  Every time the Texas Legislature is in session, there’s an attack on the Texas wind industry.  This session is no exception.

Email your State Senator to keep wind energy growing in Texas.

Texas State Senator Donna Campbell of New Braunfels is leading the charge against wind energy with Senate Bill 277 (SB 277).  The bill would create 35 mile zones around military facilities with aviation operations in which wind farms wouldn’t be eligible for economic development tax credits that are available to many businesses across the state.

The stated reason is to protect military facilities and their operations from any interference from wind farms.  That would mostly be wind towers obstructing flight paths and the spinning wind turbines causing radar to malfunction.  These sound like problems worth fixing until you learn that there’s already a fully functional solution in place.

The Department of Defense Already Has a Solution

The Department of Defense (DoD) is aware of the potential conflicts between wind farms and other energy infrastructure and it’s operations has has developed a process for evaluating and mitigating any impact from such development.  The DoD Siting Clearinghouse examines each proposed wind farm evaluates possible impacts based on it’s specific design and location and the specific activities and infrastructure at nearby military facilities.

Every wind farm doesn’t have the same impact because those details very widely.  If the DoD Siting Clearinghouse determines that there would be an impact, the wind developer either has to find a new location, make changes to the design of the wind farm and/or pay for infrastructure upgrades at the impacted military facility.  DoD Siting Clearinghouse staff made clear in their March 2015 report to Congress that this project by project review is the only effective method of protecting its operations:

Generic standoff distances are not useful.  Due to the wide variety of missions and the variability of impacts on different types of obstructions, it is not possible to apply a ‘one-size-fits-all’ standoff distance between DOD military readiness activities and development projects.

Wind and Military Installations Are Successfully Coexisting

The Clearinghouse process is working.  In Nueces County, Texas, a proposed wind farm was evaluated and a determination made that there would be conflict with Navy training missions in Corpus Christi and Kingsville.  The Clearing house worked with the wind developer and agreement was reached that allowed the installation to go forward.  Turbines were excluded from certain areas and the developer contributed money for studies and infrastructure upgrades.  This kind of win-win outcome is the benefit of a thoughtful policy that respects the variability in each situation.

Texas wind farms within 25 miles of military air bases

Map created by The Wind Coalition

SB 277 gives no consideration to the fact that many wind farms can and do operate within 35 miles of military bases with no conflicts.  It’s also possible that a wind farm further away could have impacts.  Over 39% of existing Texas wind capacity is found within 30 miles of a military facility.  This proposed “buffer zone” is clearly not needed.  SB 277 is a bill with a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist.

Email your State Senator to keep wind energy growing in Texas.

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Yesterday, Tuesday, February 21st, the Bexar County Commissioners (in San Antonio) unanimously approved a resolution opposing transport of high-level radioactive waste and consolidated storage or disposal in Texas or New Mexico.  Here’s the final clause:

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that Bexar County does not support or consent to consolidated interim storage of radioactive waste in Texas and nearby New Mexico, or the transportation of high-level radioactive waste on our railways or highways for the purpose of consolidated storage or permanent disposal of high-level radioactive waste in Texas or New Mexico.

The resolution was carried by Commissioner Tommy Calvert, who explained the risks of transportation of high-level radioactive waste through San Antonio and other communities that would be on transportation routes if WCS gets a consolidated storage license.

San Antonio folks who testified were Russell Seal and Meredith McGuire with Alice Canestaro-Garcia and Loretta Van Coppenolle, ready to testify.  Tom “Smitty” Smith of Public Citizen led the testimony. Commissioner Paul Elizondo pointed out the history of opposing radioactive waste transport in San Antonio in previous years and seconded the motion to pass the resolution, which passed without further discussion.

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This was an amazing week of organizing in West Texas / New Mexico. Lots of people and organizations came together to work toward halting the radioactive waste dumping threat. Waste Control Specialists (WCS) wants to dump 40,000 tons of this deadly waste, parking lot style, and store it for 40 to 100 years in the desert, where climate extremes and fracking abound. What could go wrong?

This week there were two Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) hearings on the radioactive waste storage license for Waste Control Specialists, one in Hobbs (Feb. 13th) and one in Andrews (Feb. 15th). The message came through loud and clear from local and regional folks – WE DON’T WANT IT!   The Department of Energy (DOE) tried to tell the rest of the country that Andrews wants this waste – but the people in targeted communities never got to vote. The Andrews County Commissioners took action with a resolution that hardly anyone knew about until recently, which is not informed consent.

A local activist who lives just outside of WCS’s site and her family have been speaking up and taking action for years. She spoke to the Mayor and City Council of Eunice on Valentines’ evening, and spoke at both the Hobbs and Andrews NRC meetings – on the 13th and 15th.  Eunice is the closest city to the WCS site – only 5 miles away. The proposed Eddy Lea Energy Alliance (Holtec) consolidated storage project would be nearby as well.

Another concerned citizen has led efforts in Andrews for two years now.  He was joined by an 80 years old newly minted activist who is  full of life and fire. A young Mom from Andrews.  her family and friends have now jumped in and become involved, and others in the community are speaking out now as well. Former State Representative Lon Burnam has made numerous trips to the West Texas region to organize and connect people.

Citizens in Midland and Odessa organized two local meetings and a press conference, and then participated in both hearings. They made a huge impact too, and have raised concerns about the risk of radioactive waste trains and water contamination. A local artist gave a beautiful and empowering speech in Hobbs and brought friends in from Roswell.

A member of the Dallas League of Women Voters got the National League of Women Voters to support her strong statement of opposition to radioactive waste dumping and delivered it beautifully, to the applause, standing ovation and sign waving of an appreciative crowd.

Diane D’Arrigo from Nuclear Information and Resource Service and Kevin Kamps from Beyond Nuclear were invaluable, helping get information out to concerned citizens, speaking powerfully and providing detailed accurate information to reporters. We’re so grateful to them for their key role and for coming all this way to help out.  Tom “Smitty” Smith and Public Citizen were also key in organizing, strategizing and getting materials and information out.

The star of the night in Andrews was young man who took the microphone and spoke boldly, with his mother supporting him with an arm around him. It was moving and powerful.

Reporters from E&E News, the Midland Reporter-Telegram, Odessa American, Andrews County News and 3 television stations came out in Andrews.

WCS had speakers at the hearings, but many were employees or people who seem likely to have had contracts or financial benefit. The usual backers, such as the Andrews Industrial Foundation, went to bat. The WCS folks outnumbered us, but we were strong in numbers, organized, vocal and clear in our message – an amazing feat in towns where this type of organizing hasn’t happened in recent history. It’s been an honor to know and work with everyone involved, and to learn so much from amazing local folks! There will be future organizing meetings going forward and everyone is invited.

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The following sites have had serious radiation leaks:

  • The Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant (PGDP) site in Kentucky listed as a Superfund site on the National Priorities List (NPL) in 1994.[i]
  • The Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington State is today America’s most contaminated nuclear site.[ii]
  • The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) had a leak after 15 years of operation that took 3 years and $500 million to clean up.[iii]
  • The Pantex Plant is the primary United States nuclear weapons assembly and disassembly facility.  Since 2000, $171 million in compensation and medical bills has been disbursed to more than 1,300 workers and families since the energy employees’ compensation program began.[iv]
  • Fernald uranium production facility is the site of one of the largest environmental cleanup operations undertaken in U.S. history.  It was added to the U.S. EPA’s National Priorities List of Superfund Sites most in need of cleanup in 1989.  The cleanup was completed after 28 years and cost $4.4 billion.[v]
  • Savannah River Site (SRS) produced tritium, plutonium and other special nuclear materials for national defense and the space program. Past disposal practices caused site contamination. Cleanup efforts have been underway since the 1980s.  Site cleanup completion is currently scheduled for 2065.[vi]
  • Beatty was the nation’s first federally licensed low-level radioactive waste dump. It opened in 1962 and closed in 1992.  In October of 2015, that site caught fire.  The commercial operator of the closed radioactive waste dump was troubled over the years by leaky shipments and oversight so lax that employees took contaminated tools and building materials home, according to state and federal records. [vii]
  • West Valley Demonstration Project is a nuclear waste remediation project focusing on the cleanup and containment of radioactive waste left behind after the abandonment of a commercial nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in 1980.  Despite over 30 years of cleanup efforts and billions of dollars having been spent at the site, the property has been described as New York’s most toxic location in 2013.[viii]

 

 

Radioactive exposure can lead to birth defects, cancers or deaths.

Radioactive accidents or leaks can lead to water contamination and billions of taxpayer dollars for never-ending cleanup.

 

 

 

Dangerous radioactive waste could be coming to your community soon.  For the health and safety of your children and grandchildren, join us…

Learn more at these Town Hall meetings:

  • Wednesday, February 8th, at 7 pm, at the Outlaw Grill, 1007 Main St. Eunice, NM
  • Thursday, February 9th at 5 PM, at Martinez Bakery, 206 E. Florida Ave.. Midland, TX
  • Thursday, February 9th, at 7 pm, at the Midland Democratic Party,601 S. Main, Midland, TX
  • Saturday, February 11th, at 11:30 am at La Hacienda Cafeteria, 421 W. Broadway St., Andrews, TX

Speak out at one or both of the NRC public meetings and request a public hearing:  (Open House will be at 6 pm)

  • 7-10 p.m. MST, Feb. 13, at the Lea County Event Center, 5101 N. Lovington Highway, Hobbs, N.M.
  • 7-10 p.m. CST, Feb. 15, at the James Roberts Center, 855 TX-176, Andrews, Texas.

Find the WCS License Application at www.regulations.gov and search for Docket ID NRC-2016-0231.

For more information go to: www.NoNuclearWasteAqui.org

[i] https://cumulis.epa.gov/supercpad/cursites/csitinfo.cfm?id=0404794

[ii] http://strangesounds.org/2014/04/what-if-a-quake-strikes-hanford-nuclear-site-is-defenseless-against-earthquakes.html

[iii] http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2017/01/10/wipp-nuclear-waste-repository-reopens-for-business/#2e0681234b5c

[iv] http://www.star-telegram.com/news/state/texas/article49500030.html

[v] http://www.fluor.com/projects/fernald-environmental-remediation

[vi] https://cumulis.epa.gov/supercpad/cursites/csitinfo.cfm?id=0403485

[vii] https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/oct/25/radioactive-waste-dump-fire-reveals-nevada-troubled-past

[viii] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Valley_Demonstration_Project

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Public Citizen Honors Tom “Smitty” Smith

 

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After more than three decades of extraordinary work running Public Citizen’s Texas office, “Smitty,” formally known as Thomas Smith, is hanging up his spurs. Smitty is a Texas institution and a national treasure, and on February 1st, we celebrated him right.

Over 200 people attended a retirement dinner for Smitty at the Barr Mansion in Austin, TX on Wednesday evening.  Friends and colleagues from around the state who had work with Smitty on issues over his career that included clean energy, ethics reform, pollution mitigation, nuclear waste disposal, etc came to pay homage to a man who had dedicated his life to fighting for a healthier and more equitable world by making government work for the people and by defending democracy from corporate greed.

Mayor Adler and Council members Leslie Pool and Ann Kitchens

Travis County Commissioner Brigid Shea and Smitty

Dallas County Commissioner Dr. Theresa Daniel and Smitty

During the evening, Austin Mayor – Steve Adler, Travis County Commissioner – Brigid Shea, and Dallas County Commissioner – Dr. Theresa Daniel presented Smitty with resolutions passed by the City of Austin, Travis County Commissioners Court and Dallas County Commissioners Court all of which acknowledge Smitty’s contributions to their communities and the state of Texas.

 

 

 

Adrian Shelley (front left) and Rob Weissman (front right) at Tom “Smitty” Smith’s retirement event.

Public Citizen’s President, Robert Weissman, thanked Smitty for his service to Public Citizen for the past 31 years and introduced the new director for the Texas office, Adrian Shelley, the current Executive Director of Air Alliance Houston.

Smitty’ impending departure fromPublic Citizen will leave a big hole in advocacy for progressive issues here in Texas, but both Smitty and Robert Weissman expressed confidence that Adrian would lead the Texas office forward into a new era of progressive advocacy.  Adrian is a native Texan from the City of Houston. He has served as the Executive Director of Air Alliance Houston since 2013. He first worked with Air Alliance Houston as a legal fellow in 2010, then as a Community Outreach Coordinator in 2012. In that time, Public Citizen has worked closely with Air Alliance Houston through the Healthy Port Communities Coalition (HPCC), a coalition of nonprofits and community groups which advocates policies to improve public health and safety while encouraging economic growth.

So be assured that Adrian and the Texas staff of Public Citizen are committed to carrying on the battle for justice, for democracy, for air clean and  energy and for clean politics. We can and will protect our children and the generations to come. For this, we can still use your help.  You can make a tax deductible donation to the Texas office of Public Citizen to help us continue his vital work on climate, transportation, civil justice, consumer protection, ethics, campaign finance reform and more

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Adrian ShelleyAdrian Shelley, who has served as executive director of Air Alliance Houston, has been named the new director of Public Citizen’s Texas office, Public Citizen announced today.

Shelley replaces Tom “Smitty” Smith, who is retiring after 31 years of championing consumer rights and clean energy policies. Smith’s retirement was announced in September. He has remained at the helm while the organization searched for a new director.

Shelley has run Air Alliance Houston (AAH) since April 2013. Under Shelley’s leadership, the organization made significant progress in the fight for clean air and a healthy future in Houston. AAH is a founding member of the Healthy Port Communities Coalition, of which Public Citizen is a member.

“Smitty is a hero of mine, and I am honored to continue his work in Austin,” Shelley said. “As a native Texan, I look forward to advocating on behalf of all Texans.”

Shelley replaces Smith, widely known around the state Capitol as the man in the white hat. Smith’s work has led to reforms that have improved public health and safety, protected consumers’ pocketbooks and helped curb climate change.

“Texas and America are better places thanks to Smitty’s work,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “Smitty’s breakthrough advocacy and initiatives in Texas pioneered achievements in clean energy, renewables and consumer protection that have spread across the nation. There’s no replacement for Smitty, but we’ve found a superstar of the next generation in Adrian, and are looking forward to seeing him innovate new pathways to progress.”

Added Smith, “Adrian is a star in the environmental movement. He has proven to be a strong leader who is smart, dedicated and very tactical. He’ll go far. I am very pleased he has been chosen to be my replacement.”

Shelley will remain in Houston with Air Alliance Houston while that organization finds a new executive director.

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The Press Officer will work with the Director and other staff in the Texas office to develop press strategies that will augment our organizing and policy work, will provide rapid response when events warrant it, and will execute day-to-day press strategy utilizing social and traditional media. The primary topics of most media work will pertain to global climate change, air quality, renewable energy, fossil fuels, nuclear waste, and ethics. Some work will be statewide, while other campaigns are focused on specific cities, counties or regions. A substantial focus will be on using traditional and social media to educate residents of the greater Houston area about air pollution and promote opportunities for people to take action in support of clear air solutions.  Promoting our clean energy campaigns will also be a primary focus. This is a one year grant contingent position and will be based in Austin.

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Reprinted from Appliance Standards Awareness Project

This week, the California Energy Commission (CEC) approved first-in-the-nation energy efficiency standards for computers and computer displays, or monitors (CEC factsheet). These new standards, which reflect several years of collaborative work by the computer industry, California investor-owned utilities, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Consumer Federation of America, other consumer organizations, and regional energy efficiency organizations should help save energy worth billions of dollars each year that would otherwise be wasted by the desktops, laptops and other computer equipment that consumers and businesses use every day.

California’s new computer standards are the latest in a long and very successful history of state level actions, dating back to the original refrigerator efficiency standards in the 1970s. California’s standards often become models for other states as well as the nation. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has begun a process of developing national computer efficiency standards, but has not yet published a proposal.

The computer industry has a good record of improving their products’ energy efficiency and participated constructively in the development of the new California standards. The standards will promote further innovation and the widespread adoption of existing energy-saving computer and monitor technologies. Manufacturers have expressed confidence that they will be able to achieve the new energy efficiency requirements, according to the New York Times.

Of course, computer manufacturers serve national and international markets. Rather than offer computers with different efficiency levels in California, manufacturers may upgrade national product lines to meet the California standards, especially if other states decide to follow suit. Based on the CEC’s estimates for California, we extrapolate that if manufacturers sold only compliant computers and monitors nationally, savings would reach up to 20,000 gigawatt hours of electricity annually by 2027, or enough to supply 1.6 million U.S. homes. NRDC further describes the standards and their benefits for California and the nation in their blog post.

The California computer and monitor standards do not cover tablets, game consoles, televisions, larger servers, or computers used to control industrial machines. Different energy efficiency requirements will come into effect for various product types from 2018 to 2021 with a first tier of energy efficiency requirements for the most common computers becoming effective on January 1, 2019. A second, stronger efficiency level for this equipment kicks in on July 1, 2021.

California’s new standards acknowledge the challenge of setting energy efficiency requirements for rapidly evolving technologies like computers and monitors. Since consumer preferences for additional features and computing power may change over time, the California computer standards are designed to be flexible with allowances and exemptions to support innovation. However, these allowances and exemptions could potentially reduce the expected energy savings under some scenarios. To address this possibility the CEC issued an adoption order directing Commission staff to conduct rigorous market monitoring of “specific features and types of computers and monitors” using the state’s appliance efficiency database system. If the market develops in ways that significantly reduce the expected energy savings, CEC can revise the standards in the future.

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