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2014-11-02 Plastic Bags in Tres - Public Domain ImagesOn January 8th, Governor Abbott announced his intention to rollback regulations that ban fracking for oil and gas, ban the use of plastic shopping bags, and limit which trees property owners can cut down on their land. Unfortunately, although many Texas cities have local control laws in place, Abbott appears to have the support of much of the Texas Legislature in this effort to restrict home rule. With the opening of the Legislative session last month, we have seen the opposition to local control begin to mount.

Representative Phil King, (R- Weatherford) has introduced two bills that, if passed, would restrict cities from adopting municipal ordinances. Specifically, HB 540 would give the Attorney General the right to review local petitions before they are placed on the ballot. In other words, Attorney General Ken Paxton would decide whether local petitions or referendums in cities across Texas would break federal or state laws. Cities would not be able to place items on the ballot if the Attorney General found them to violate any of these laws. King’s second bill HB 539, relates specifically to the banning of oil and gas activities, and would require cities to pay the state back for any lost in revenue due to the passage of a city ordinance. If passed, both HB 540 and HB 539 would make it very difficult for cities to ban practices such as fracking in their own backyards

On the Senate side, Senator Konni Burton (R – Tarrant) introduced SB 440 that would restrict a county or municipality from prohibiting hydraulic fracturing treatment of oil and gas wells. Even worse, Senator Don Huffines (R – Dallas) introduced SB 343, that expressly bans local governments from implementing an ordinance, rule or regulation that conflicts with an existing state statute. In other words this bill would effectively end local control and have far reaching consequences way beyond environmental ordinances.

Governor Abbott and his Texas oil and gas industry backers argue that allowing local control over fracking risks creating a patchwork of regulations in different cities instead of a comprehensive solution to solve an issue that is paramount in our state.

Conversely, towns advocating for local control to solve environmental problems say they, not the state, should be able to decide the terms of matters that affect the health and well-being of their residents. And they are well within their rights to do so. Texas is a state with a long standing proud tradition of home rule and when our state agencies don’t do the best job of protecting Texans and taking responsibility for the clean- up cost of industrial operations, local governments should have the power enact home rule.

One of the targets for the attack on local control is the ban on plastic bags currently in place in ten Texas cities including Austin and Dallas; an ordinance Governor Abbott calls overregulation. However, these bans reflect the fact that the majority of residents in these ten cities simply want to make an effort clean up their cities and it’s cheaper to stop using so many single-use plastic bags than to pay people to pick them up. If people don’t want to see bags in their trees, they should be able to take action.

The Legislature this session wants to crack down on municipal ordinances passed by local governments around the state. However, these are ordinances that have been deemed necessary by the cities and have the support of the majority of their residents. As the attacks mount in the Legislature, it will be important for local leaders and citizens to show their support for local control or else risk that right being taken away.

ozone-moleculeThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to reclassify the Dallas-Fort Worth area (DFW) as being in severe nonattainment of the original 8-hour ozone standard of 84 parts per billion. The proposal will be published for public comment in the Federal Register in seven to 10 days. Upon publication, a 30-day public comment period will begin.

EPA has been coordinating closely with Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), North Central Texas Council of Governments, elected officials and statewide environmental organizations in preparation for today’s proposed action. While DFW’s air quality has steadily improved as its population grows, the area missed a June 2013 deadline to attain the 1997 ozone standard. Because the area did not meet the deadline of June 15, 2013, to attain the 1997 standard, the Clean Air Act requires EPA to reclassify DFW as a severe nonattainment area.

TCEQ has developed a clean air plan for the revised 2008 ozone standard and is expected to submit that plan to EPA for review by July 2015. A copy of the proposed plan is publicly available – click here to access it .

DFW air quality has significantly improved over the last decade. Ten years ago, the 8-hour average was 98 parts per billion (ppb); the preliminary value for 2010-2014 is 81 ppb. During that time, DFW has also been among the fastest-growing regions in the country. The area’s achievement came through a combination of federal measures to clean up fuels and reduce emissions from engines, state measures to reduce emissions from stationary sources, and efforts of the public during ozone season—including using public transport, refueling in the evenings, and properly maintaining their vehicles.

Ground-level ozone is created by chemical reactions between nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds in the presence of sunlight. In DFW, mobile sources such as cars and trucks are the biggest emitters of ozone “ingredients.” Breathing ozone can trigger a variety of health problems, particularly for children, the elderly, and people of all ages who have lung diseases such as asthma. Ground-level ozone contributes to the formation of smog, and can harm sensitive vegetation and ecosystems.

Click here to read more about ground-level ozone and its adverse health effects:

Obama Reject Keystone XLThe Keystone XL pipeline would result in the release of 1.3 billion tons of climate destabilizing pollution over its expected lifespan — and that’s even before the oil gets burned overseas.

This information presented in the State Department’s final review of Keystone contributes to the overwhelming evidence against approving the tar sands pipeline.

In fact, President Obama has more than enough information to determine that the Keystone pipeline is not in our national interest.

Tell President Obama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline once and for all.

1.3 billion tons of carbon emissions.

That’s the equivalent of putting another 120,000 cars on our roads — every year, for 50 years.

We simply cannot afford to spew that much more climate-disrupting pollution into our atmosphere.

Any day, the president could make a decision on whether to allow this disastrous project to go forward.

That’s why we must keep the pressure on: Sign our petition to President Obama urging him to declare that the Keystone XL pipeline is not in our national interest.

For over six years, the Keystone XL pipeline has been under a long controversial discussion due to its numerous environmental concerns, including jeopardizing clean water along the pipeline all the way from Canada to Texas. Recently, the Environmental Protection Agency has raised even further environmental concerns due to the possible increase of greenhouse gas emissions if the pipeline is built. Plunging oil prices make the alternative of transporting the tar sands oil by rail uneconomical. Building the pipeline would offer a cheaper method of transport and would therefor increase greenhouse gas emissions.

Alberta tar sands operation in 2008 - Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Alberta tar sands operation in 2008. Photo from Wikimedia Commons

EPA Assistant Administrator Cynthia Giles’ letter calls for both the Department of State and President Obama’s attention to the EPA’s review of the proposed $7 billion pipeline. Tar sands have significantly greater total greenhouse gas emissions than other crude oils. The emissions equate to 1.3 to 27.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year, which is “equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions from 5.7 passenger vehicles or 7.8 coal fired power plants,” according to Giles. “Over a 50-year lifetime of the pipeline, this could translate into releasing as much as 1.37 billion more tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.”

President Obama has continuously promised citizens that the pipeline’s entire potential climate hazards would be considered during his decision-making for Keystone, further supported in his speech back in 2013 regarding climate change.

Despite Obama’s inferred veto, there is still continued support for the Keystone pipeline. Companies like TransCanada, the energy company trying to build the international pipeline, claims that the drop in global oil prices will soon pass and that there has been a decrease in Canada’s gas emissions, but the company’s other claims, particularly about job creation have proved false.

Despite concerns about the project, the Senate has approved the Keystone Bill to start building the pipeline, further dividing the chamber and highlighting the Senators’ different stances on climate and environmental issues. The Obama administration is currently evaluating the nation’s comments along with the EPA’s review. Because Keystone crosses international borders, President Obama holds the ultimate right to either approve or reject the proposal.

Our colleague Hillary Corgey had to work hard to become the person she wanted to be. She was smart and wanted to make a difference and she set out to make herself into policy expert.

Hillary earned her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Government from the University of Houston in 2010. During college, she worked at the Houston SPCA, volunteered for Armando Walle’s campaign and then served as an intern in his Houston office. She then went on to earn a Master of Arts degree, also in Political Science and Government from Texas State University in San Marcos in 2012.

Hillary speaking about the health impact of ground-level ozone at the EPA Haze Rule Hearings in Austin on January 13, 2015. Photo by Matt Johnson.

Hillary speaking about the health impact of ground-level ozone at the EPA Haze Rule Hearings in Austin on January 13, 2015. Photo by Matt Johnson.

Hillary started as an intern in Public Citizen’s Texas office in the summer of 2012 and quickly proved herself to be an asset to our team. She stayed on as a contract worker and then as a full time member of the staff.

Hillary’s experience growing up with asthma and struggling to breathe the polluted Houston air made the work personal to her. She gradually became more confident and took on public speaking and working with coalition partners, in addition to research. Research was where she excelled most though. She was able to dig up more interesting and useful facts in a shorter time than anyone else in the office.

Hillary’s dedication to her job and to improving conditions for those on the front lines of environmental injustice made her a good co-worker.

Hillary was also an interesting person to be around. She had unique ideas and very definite opinions about many things. She was a true independent. Hillary could be funny, but she had a very dry sense of humor, so you might have missed it if you weren’t expecting a joke. Her personal interests included heavy metal music, fantasy role-playing games, zombies and comics, and chicken – especially fried chicken. And Hillary liked guns; she was even a member of the NRA.

Hillary Corgey in front of Texas FlagHillary was loyal to those who made it into her inner circle and kind to people in general. She especially loved her grandparents, and took her grandmother’s death hard last year. She made her way through that hard time though, and emerged from it more able to forgive. She seemed to more often be thinking of the needs of those whom she was close with than her own needs.

Hillary died at the much too young age of 27 and will be sorely missed by her friends, family and colleagues.

A memorial in Hillary’s honor will be held at 1 P.M. at the Rothko Chapel at 1409 Sul Ross St in Houston on Thursday, February 5th.

The family has asked that in lieu of flowers, a donation be made in Hillary’s name to Public Citizen. A check may be mailed to Public Citizen Foundation at 1600 20th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009 or you can donate via the link on the Houston Chronicle obituary by clicking here.

If you wish to send condolences to the family, please fill in the form below:

Dallas sitting in smogThe Environmental Protection Agency is holding a public hearing in Arlington today on the proposed update on ground-level ozone regulation. It is important for EPA to hear from every person, since the proposed updates will affect everyone, especially children, the elderly, and those affected by asthma.

While environmentalists and public health activists alike are hopeful for the Clean Air Act, there has been heavy criticism on the high prices needed for the new regulation and a fear that the restrictions will cost Americans their jobs.

However, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy promises that the Clean Air Act’s benefits outweigh its costs. Furthermore, scientific findings prove that the Clean Air Act will all around counteract health and environmental hazards. According to the American Lung Association, the effect of ground-level ozone is similar to having sunburns on the lungs. Smog could lead to lung diseases, asthma attacks, interference with reproduction and development, and overall, increased hospitalizations and premature deaths.

“Special-interest critics will try to convince you that pollution standards chase away local jobs and businesses”, McCarthy says, “but, in fact, healthy communities attract new businesses, new investment, and new jobs.”

The Clean Air Act will help decrease financial issues caused by health ones, such as missed work days and medical costs, proving that the Act’s expenses will be overshadowed by its numerous benefits.

Those that live in Dallas and Arlington have had to breathe hazardous air, leading to a plethora of groups at risk including a number of 670,217 children under 18 and 224,990 adults 65 and over. EPA will thus be holding a public hearing today in Arlington, which has earned an “F” in ozone pollution according to American Lung Association.

Back in 2009, the ozone was a part per billion lower than it is today. The Clean Air Act can prevent the running average for ozone from increasing from strengthening the ozone pollution limit. So help protect the public health of not only the 2,453,843 people at risk in the Dallas area, but also the public health of children, the elderly, and adults all around the world. Help by attending the EPA hearing today at:

Arlington City Hall 
101 W. Abram Street
Arlington, Texas, 76010

Tom “Smitty” Smith (left), Director of Public Citizen’s Texas office testifies at EPA hearing in Arlington, Jan 25, 2015.

Ozone pollution, known as smog, harms our communities, because when we breathe smog, we get more asthma attacks, more heart failure, more chronic bronchitis, more respiratory infections, more hospital visits, and more missed school days.

There’s good news, though. The U.S. EPA recently proposed national standards for smog that would help protect public health. We have a chance to show support for this health protective standard by attending and speaking at an upcoming public hearing on the smog standard in Arlington, Texas.

Will you consider joining us to speak up about why clean air matters to you?

Who: Texas moms, dads, families, aunts, uncles, grandparents, children and supporters.

What: Speak briefly (5 minutes or less) to EPA staff members about why clean air matters to you. We will support you every step of the way to let you know exactly what to expect, and to help you prepare for the day.

Where: Arlington, Texas
Arlington City Hall
101 W. Abram Street
Arlington, Texas, 76010

When: Jan. 29: Arlington, Texas. Each hearing will begin at 9 a.m. and continue until 7:30 p.m. local time . If you decide to join us, you will be assigned a specific time of your choice to come speak and could leave directly after you deliver your comments.

Why: EPA needs to hear from families, not just polluters, about the importance of protecting our children’s lungs. Your voice matters. Your comments will be entered into the official docket for the smog standard, and will be taken into consideration as EPA finalizes the standard.

If you’d like to get more involved in helping make sure Texans can breathe easier, please fill in the form below:
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P2PPosterNew

Film screening of Pay 2 Play: Democracy’s High Stakes.

This documentary follows filmmaker John Ennis’ quest to find a way out from under the Pay 2 Play System, where Politicians reward their donors with even larger sums from the public treasury — through contracts, tax cuts, and deregulation.  Along the way, he journeys through high drama on the Ohio campaign trail, uncovers the secret history of the game Monopoly, and explores the underworld of L.A. street art on a humorous odyssey that reveals how much of a difference one person can make.   This entertaining film is a layman’s guidebook to taking back our democracy.

Date: Wednesday, January 21

Time: beginning at 6:30 PM

Where:  Alamo Drafthouse in the Village Shopping Center at 2700 W. Anderson Lane

Agenda:
6:30-7:00 meet and greet and order dinner
7:00-8:30 show film
8:30-9:30 panel and audience discussion

Panelists Include:
Tom “Smitty” Smith, Public Citizen Texas;
Craig McDonald, Texans for Public Justice;
Sara Smith, TexPIRG;
Todd Jagger, Wolf-PAC; and
Caroline Homer, Move To Amend

Buy Tickets ($10.25)

Coalition for Sensible SafeguardsThe Coalition for Sensible Safeguards strongly opposes the Regulatory Accountability Act (RAA), which the House passed on Tuesday. They are urging members of Congress to oppose it and The White House  has issued a veto threat for the Bill . This innocuous-sounding bill is designed to undermine our nation’s environmental, public health, workplace safety and consumer financial security protections – not improve them.

The RAA would rewrite dozens of laws, including the Clean Air Act, the Consumer Product Safety Act and the Food Safety Modernization Act by requiring federal agencies to put corporate profits ahead of the health and safety of American workers and families. Agencies would have to produce highly speculative estimates of all the indirect costs and benefits of proposed rules and do the same for any potential alternatives. What counts and does not count as an indirect cost or a potential alternative? The bill leaves that up to the imagination of industry.

In addition, the RAA would hamstring the work of agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission, the National Labor Relations Board, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The bill would subject their work to review by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, which is infamous for delaying, diluting and blocking important new safeguards. Federal agencies already take years to issue health and safety standards. The dozens of cumbersome requirements added by this bill would make that process even longer.

Any high-stakes rule that miraculously made it through these roadblocks would face unprecedented challenges. The RAA would allow industry lobbyists to second-guess the work of respected scientists through legal challenges, sparking a wave of litigation that would add even more costs and delays to the rulemaking process – while putting the lives, health and safety of millions of Americans at risk.

The costs of blocking crucial standards and safeguards are clear: The Wall Street economic collapse, the Upper Big Branch mine explosion in West Virginia, the West Fertilizer Company explosion in West, TX, countless food and product safety recalls and massive environmental disasters including the Dan River coal ash spill in North Carolina and the Freedom Industries chemical spill in West Virginia are just some of the most recent examples.

It’s no wonder polling shows that Americans want better enforcement of our nation’s rules and standards. Congress should listen to the public and stop trying to sabotage the safeguards that protect us all.

To learn more about the potential effects of the bill, see the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards’ 2011 report: Impacts of the Regulatory Accountability Act. The latest version of the bill has been partially revised, but the problems at the heart of the bill remain.

It’s a new era for the Austin City Council in more ways than one.  Not only does the Council have geographic representation for the first time ever, but the almost entirely new Council (Kathie Tovo is the only returning member) has proposed a significant overhaul to the way in which the body does its job.  These changes were presented at a press conference with all 10 Council members and Mayor Adler last Thursday.

Austin City Council press conference. Photo by Kaiba White 1/8/15.

Austin City Council press conference. Photo by Kaiba White 1/8/15.

The proposed changes are in response to several often repeated complaints.  The first is that Council meetings are unreasonably long – an average of 9 and a half hours in 2014, according to a city auditor report.  This results in some Council decisions being made late at night after a full day on dais.  The second complaint is that there is little to no certainty about when any specific item will be taken up at Council meetings.  Coupled with the long meetings, this means that members of the public who wish to speak on an item have a difficult time doing so because can’t spend all day at a Council meeting.

A third concern is that by the time an item comes up at a Council meeting most, if not all members have already made their decisions and that speaking for or against an item isn’t likely to change the outcome of the vote.  This perception (along with the time commitment required to participate) likely discourages many from showing up to share their views.

IMG_6859Council’s proposals are intended to address these complaints head on by expanding opportunity for public input earlier in the process and reducing the length of Council meetings.

Instead of most items going directly to the full Council for consideration, most items would first be assigned to a committee and would receive a public hearing in committee.  The larger number of proposed Council Committees should reduce the length of any one meeting and make it more feasible for members of the public to participate.  Time sensitive items or items that don’t receive timely attention in their assigned committee could still be sent directly to the full Council.  And even if an item received a hearing in committee, any 4 Council members could still request a second hearing before the full Council.

Council has also proposed to assign certain topics, such as zoning to meetings that will focus on those issues, in order to allow members of the public to more easily hone in on which meetings they want to attend.  Executive sessions would generally be reserved for a special meetings to keep meetings flowing and waste less of the public’s time.

As advocates of good government, Public Citizen supports these proposals and has just a few suggestions:

  1. The Council Committee on Austin Energy should remain a committee of the whole – with all Council members, including the mayor, serving on it.  Austin Energy is the City’s most valuable asset, accounts for a majority of budget allocations and contributes significant revenue to the city’s general fund, which pays for the bulk of the city’s services, such as parks, firefighters, and libraries.  In 2013, the public spoke clearly in favor of Council retaining control over Austin Energy, instead of transferring governing authority to an unelected board.  Since Council serves as the board of directors for Austin Energy, all Council members should be fully engaged in governing the utility.
  2. A subcommittee of the Committee on Austin Energy should be created to study and propose options for modernizing Austin Energy’s business model.  The mayor and several other Council members have indicated that they wish to find ways for Austin Energy to remain viable in the long run.  One significant challenge is an eventual future when many more customers will have their own solar systems on their homes and businesses and will purchase less energy from the utility, but will still rely on the utility to maintain a working power distribution grid.  Utilities in other states and countries are beginning to tackle the problem of retaining sufficient revenue while selling less electricity.  Establishing an Austin Energy Business Model subcommittee will ensure that Council is focused on ensuring the long-term financial stability of Austin’s most valuable asset.
  3. Council should stet an expected timeline for holding public hearings on items that are assigned to committees.  We suggest that a public hearing should be held within 30 days of an item being assigned to a committee.  This will ensure that the committee process fosters meaningful and timely public engagement, as it is intended to do.

Please email the Council members to let them know that you support their proposed changes and these suggestions from Public Citizen.

According to NOAA and NASA, 2014 was the warmest year on record.  A new report names 2014 as the warmest year since records were first kept in 1880.

Across all land and ocean surfaces, the average temperature was up 1.24 degrees Fahrenheit over the 20th century average, according to numbers released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). That caused 2014 to pass the previous record-holders: 2005 and 2010. The warmest December since 1880 helped push 2014 into record territory. The same conclusion was reached by NASA, who also called 2014 the warmest year on record in a separate analysis released on Friday.

Hazy iew from the South Rim of the Chisos in Big Bend National Park, Texas. March 25, 2010. Photo by Kaiba White.

Hazy view from South Rim of the Chisos in Big Bend National Park, TX. Photo by Kaiba White, 3/25/10.

EPA will be holding a public hearing in Austin on Tuesday, January 13 on their regional haze rules proposal.  This is a chance for any member of the public to speak up in favor of reducing air pollution for coal-fired power plants in Texas to improve visibility in our region’s most important national lands.  Impacted areas are Big Bend and Guadalupe Mountains National Parks in Texas and Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.

Whether you spend time in these beautiful places and want to improve them for everyone to enjoy or are concerned with the health impacts (particularly respiratory illness) that are cause by this same air pollution, we hope you’ll make your views known.

EPA has proposed some strong protections for Texas and Oklahoma national parks and wilderness from haze pollution, but they could do more!  Ask EPA not to exclude any old coal plants, as they have done and to make sure that nitrogen oxides emissions, as well as sulfur dioxide emissions are controlled at all facilities.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015
Open House: 1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Public Hearing: 4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Where: Eastview Campus, Austin Community College, Building 8500, Room 8500
3401 Webberville Road, Austin, Texas 78702

Be a Public CitizenAs the start of the 84th Texas Legislative Session approaches, we’re looking to add a couple more passionate advocates to our team.  As usual, we’ll be working primarily on energy, environmental and ethics issues.  If you want a good learning experience with an opportunity to make a difference, read on.


Environmental/Energy Research/Social Media/Administrative Assistant

Public Citizen’s Texas office seeks an organized and motivated person to provide research, social media and light administrative assistance to a former Texas State Representative that will be volunteering with us for the Legislative session.

Duties will include assisting a former state representative with social media (Facebook and Twitter), Capitol office visits, research, and some light administrative work – mostly helping to keep things organized. This will include research on radioactive waste and fracking, but could include other topics as well. The assistant will help develop factsheets and blog posts based on this research. The assistant will be asked to track bills as they are filed and move through the legislative process and to help distribute materials to state legislative offices.

Qualifications: Ability to commit to 25+ hr/week through June 1; Professional business attire required most days; Desire to make a difference; Great writing and communication skills; Ability to use computer programs, such as Word, Excel, and Power Point; Ability to stay organized; Ability to work with a team; Self-motivation; Desire to learn is a must; Background in energy, environmental issues, politics, economics, or public policy is helpful, but not required

To Apply: Send a cover letter detailing why you want to work with Public Citizen, your resume, and a writing sample to Kaiba White at [email protected]


Environmental/Energy Policy and Advocacy Internship

Interns work with the Texas Legislature, the media, and other public interest groups to change laws and educate the public on environmental issues, especially those relating to energy use.
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WHEN:   January 30—31, 2015

WHERE:  Sheraton Galleria , 2400 West Loop South Houston, TX 77027

JOIN US…In learning how to use TRI data sources to protect communities.  The goal of the TRI Regional Workshop is to educate communities, students, industry professionals, academicians, and public health officials on how to access and navigate the EPA TRI data source to improve environmental conditions and policies in environmental justice communities. Regional case studies will be incorporated into the work- shop training.

TRAVEL ASSISTANCE: Limited travel scholarships are available on a first come first served basis. Apply early.

LODGING  Sheraton Galleria is the conference venue. Register early.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Dr. Denae King Texas Southern University Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs, (713) 313-4804 or [email protected]

REGISTER:  Click here to Register For the Workshop

HOSTED BY

TSUdillard university

FUNDED BY: EPA

 

 

Solarize Wells Branch

Solar fever is spreading in the Austin area!  A passionate group of solar supporters is working to bring more solar to Wells Branch.

Solarize Wells BranchIt all started with a solar fair on October 28.  A couple passionate Wells Branch residents put together a great event with speakers and tabling by local solar companies, Austin Energy and Oncor (Wells Branch is split between the Austin Energy and Oncor service areas).  About 200 people from the community showed up to learn more about solar.  As one of the speakers, I provided some basic information and introduced the solarize concept – where members of a community work together to get educated about solar and pool their buying power to contract for a discount with a solar company.

Now, an enthusiastic group of Wells Branch residents have created the Solarize Wells Branch group.  They’ve already put out a request for proposals from solar installations companies.  They’re working to get residents signed up to participate in the program.

We talk a lot about policy solutions for improving the environment and human health, but direct individual action is really important too.  Going solar saves water, reduces air pollution, helps fight climate change and will save you money.  If you live in Wells Branch or a nearby neighborhood, check out the Solarize Wells Branch flier and the Solarize Wells Branch website for lots more detailed info.  Enrolling will get you connected with the organizers, who will help get your questions answered.  Don’t worry though – this doesn’t in any way commit you to actually purchasing a solar installation.