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The Texas Senate Committee on Natural Resources held its hearing at Houston’s City Hall.

The Texas Senate’s Committee on Natural Resources and Economic Development held a hearing in Houston Thursday, February 1st on two interim charges, the first being on hotel occupancy taxes and the second on regulatory barriers.

The second interim charge reviewed at the hearing states: Identify options to maintain our state’s competitive advantage and make recommendations to remove or reduce administrative or regulatory barriers hindering economic growth, including permitting or registration requirements and fees.

Public Citizen’s Houston-based organizer, Stephanie Thomas, was one of six people to provide invited testimony. Others included representatives from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), the Texas Chemical Council, the National Federation of Independent Business, and the National Energy Association.

Our role at the hearing was to comment on specific aspects of regulation, including the issue of expedited permitting. Public Citizen recommended sufficient funding to the regulatory agencies like TCEQ to thoroughly and effectively review permits. Public Citizen also brought forth issues in reducing public participation that may come from the expedition of permits.

Public Citizen also provided comment on Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s use of exceptional events for determining National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) designation, i.e. whether a location is in attainment or nonattainment for levels criteria pollutants. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, exceptional events “are unusual or naturally occurring events that can affect air quality but are not reasonably controllable using techniques that tribal, state or local air agencies may implement in order to attain and maintain the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. Exceptional events include wildfires, stratospheric ozone intrusions and volcanic and seismic activities.”

Public Citizen argued that the TCEQ should not use exceptional events to make it seem as though an area is in attainment of an air quality standard when it is not. This practice of using exceptional events to avoid nonattainment status is particularly dangerous because people still have to breath air pollution regardless of whether it comes from a refinery or it comes from agricultural fires in Mexico.

Many of what seems like regulations to industry are public safeguards, with tangible benefits to human health and quality of life.

To read Public Citizen’s written testimony, click here: Regulatory Barriers hearing comments – Public Citizen.docx.

Upcoming Texas Primary

The Texas primary for the 2018 general election is just around the corner on March 6, 2018. If you are not already registered, the deadline is February 5, 2018.  If you need to find out how to register or to check to see if you are already registered, click here.

Last month, the Texas Tribune put together a list that lets you easily see who is running in all the primary races in Texas .  This election cycle hundreds of candidates across the state have filed to run for public office for statewide, congressional and legislative offices and the State Board of Education.

Early voting begins Feb. 20. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote in the primary, the top two vote-getters will compete in a primary runoff on May 22.

Click here to find out what candidates are running in races you might be interested in.

If you are not sure which campaigns pertain to you, click here and enter your home address to see who currently represents you (includes information on the congressional, Texas state house and senate districts and other information).

Voter attitudes about Climate Change

In 2016, the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication started a survey that maps voter beliefs about climate change by Congressional districts and then by party affiliation.  You can see the results by going to the Partisan Climate Opinion Maps 2016

If you would like to see how candidates running for offices align with voters in your area feel free to ask candidates one or all of the following 8 questions from the Yale survey.

BELIEFS

Recently, you may have noticed that global warming has been getting some attention in the news. Global warming refers to the idea that the world’s average temperature has been increasing over the past 150 years, may be increasing more in the future, and that the world’s climate may change as a result. What do you think: Do you think that global warming is happening?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Don’t know

Assuming global warming is happening, do you think it is… ?

  • Caused mostly by human activities
  • Caused mostly by natural changes in the environment
  • Other
  • None of the above because global warming isn’t happening

Most scientists think global warming is happening.  Which comes closest to your own view?

  • Most scientists think global warming is happening
  • There is a lot of disagreement among scientists about whether or not global warming is happening
  • Most scientists think global warming is not happening
  • Don’t know enough to say

RISKS

How worried are you about global warming?

  • Very worried
  • Somewhat worried
  • Not very worried
  • Not at all worried

How much do you think global warming will harm people in the United States?

  • Not at all
  • Only a little
  • A moderate amount
  • A great deal
  • Don’t know

POLICY SUPPORT                     

How much do you support or oppose the following policies?

Fund more research into renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power

  • Strongly support
  • Somewhat support
  • Somewhat oppose
  • Strongly oppose

Regulate carbon dioxide (the primary greenhouse gas) as a pollutant

  • Strongly support
  • Somewhat support
  • Somewhat oppose
  • Strongly oppose

Require electric utilities to produce at least 20% of their electricity from wind, solar, or other renewable energy sources, even if it costs the average household an extra $100 a year

  • Strongly support
  • Somewhat support
  • Somewhat oppose
  • Strongly oppose

We hope this information will help you in making informed decisions and participating in the upcoming primary.

Public Citizen’s Texas office is engaged with cities across the state in developing Climate Action Plans. We were heavily involved in the development of the Austin Community Climate Plan (pdf download) and now we are participating in a similar effort in San Antonio. We are also looking at efforts to prepare for climate change in Houston and Dallas.

One of the drivers of city-level action on climate change today is the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda, sometimes known simply as the “Climate Mayors”. Mayors of six Texas cities—Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, San Marcos, and Smitville—have signed the Climate Mayors letter. Of those six, only Austin has completed a Climate Action Plan.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner (far right) is co-chair of the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda.

Fortunately for the rest of Texas, the Climate Mayors have provided guidelines on developing your city’s Climate Action Plan. Below, we look at the five big steps in municipal climate planning.

  1. Develop an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions.

An “emissions inventory” is an accounting of all the air pollution emissions a particular source or group of sources. A greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventory focuses on the pollutants responsible for climate change, chiefly carbon dioxide and methane. The inventory is important because it provides a starting point for the rest of the plan—a baseline of GHG emissions. As one popular saying puts it, “What gets measured, gets improved.”

Cities have an important choice to make when completing their GHG inventory: will they count all of the emissions within their borders, or just the emissions caused by municipal operations?

What’s the difference? Taking cars in Houston as an example, it’s the difference between the few hundred vehicles that the City of Houston itself owns and the 2 million + vehicles in the city in total. Many cities will lean toward inventorying only their own emissions, arguing that these are the only emissions that they are directly responsible for. But a complete inventory of all of the GHG emissions within a city’s borders can lead to a more comprehensive plan. A city can control its own vehicle purchases absolutely, but it can also enact policies that cause its citizens to buy cleaner vehicles. It could, for example, offer more charging infrastructure for electric vehicles.

  1. Establish a target for emissions reductions.

 Once a city has inventoried its GHG emissions, it’s time to set a target for emissions reductions. When the United States initially joined the Paris Climate Accord, it set a target of 26 to 28 percent emissions reductions by 2025, over a 2005 baseline. (Those baseline emissions included 6,132 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, so the CO2 target for 2025 would be between 3,267 and 4,538 million metric tons.)

According to the Climate Mayors, many cities have adopted “80×50” goals, committing themselves to reducing GHG emissions by 80 percent by 2050. Interim milestones are an important part of these goals, with most cities establishing their first milestone between 2020 and 2030.

Austin has adopted the goal of “net-zero community-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.” Note that “community-wide” emissions means all of the GHG pollution produced by everyone in the city, not just municipal operations.

  1. Prioritize and ‘bundle’ emissions reduction opportunities.

Next a city must identify, prioritize, and bundle its opportunities to reduce GHG emissions. Important considerations include political feasibility, cost, funding opportunities, ease of implementation, and timing. Also important are co-benefits of a given measure. Replacing old school buses, for example, reduces children’s exposure to harmful pollutants such as particulate matter.

A comprehensive plan will take into account existing efforts, ongoing state and federal obligations, and the long timeline (typically several decades) of a climate plan. Emissions reductions opportunities should also provide a reliable way to quantify emissions achieved. Once emissions reductions opportunities are scored and packaged, they should be integrated into a long term plan to achieve the goals set in step two of the process.

  1. Design an implementation plan.

 A city’s implementation plan will dictate exactly how it enacts the measures it has committed to in its Climate Action Plan. The strength of the implementation plan can distinguish “next generation” plans from earlier, less effective ones. It is here, in the details of implementation, that a plan will succeed or fail. The Climate Mayors have provide detailed examples of successful strategies for next generation plans. A common theme throughout its recommendations is “analytical rigor.” The plan should provide methods to quantify emissions reductions and a means to evaluate success.

  1. Establish a framework for monitoring success and refining the plan.

Analytical rigor will enable the final step in climate planning: monitoring success and refining the plan over time. The Climate Action Plan should provide, at its outset, a framework for quantifying the success of a given action. Detailed records should be kept and checked against milestones built into the plan’s reduction targets. If an action is not working, the plan should provide a method to change courses. Because climate action plans set goals decades into the future, regular review and refinement of a plan is essential.

These five steps may seem straightforward, but climate planning is a complex process. Fortunately, cities no longer have to go it alone. The Climate Mayors has aggregated the experience of dozens of cities and developed a robust set of recommendations for new climate planners (for example, 94 percent of cities with an existing plan said that, were they to revise their plan, transportation would be a “very important” area to consider). Public Citizen’s Texas Office offers its help to any city or group of citizens who are interested in climate planning.

Nationwide, 389 mayors have signed the Climate Mayors letter. If all of those cities developed robust plans, the United States could meet its targets in the Paris Accord without federal action. Several cities in Texas have begun the process, and we hope that they see it through to a successful Climate Action Plan.

Happy climate planning!

The Texas Tribune has put together a list that will let you easily see who is running in all the primary races in Texas which is fast approaching with only 8 short weeks to decide who you want to see running in the November mid-term election. Texas will be the first state in the country to hold its primaries with an election held on March 6th.  This election cycle hundreds of candidates across the state have filed to run for public office for statewide, congressional and legislative offices and the State Board of Education.

Early voting begins Feb. 20. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote in the primary, the top two vote-getters will compete in a primary runoff on May 22.

Click here to find out what candidates are running in races you might be interested in.

If you are not sure which campaigns pertain to you, click here and enter your home address to see who currently represents you (includes information on the congressional, Texas state house and senate districts and other information).

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2017 may set a new record for being the most expensive year for disasters.  Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria combined with devastating Western wildfires and other localized natural disasters caused $306 billion in total damage in 2017, with 16 separate events that caused more than $1 billion in damage each.

The record-breaking year raises concerns about the effects of future natural disasters, as scientists fear climate change could make extreme weather events more damaging.  This is especially concerning to Texas which pays the most out of all U.S. states on events like hurricanes, tornadoes, forest fires and many other natural threats according to a leading climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe from Texas Tech University.

There have been 91 disasters in Texas costing more than a billion dollars since 1980.  Hurricane Harvey, which sparked extreme flooding in Houston and the surrounding area in August and September, is estimated to have caused $125 billion in damage, the year’s most expensive disaster.

One key question is to what extent climate change may be driving the U.S. toward more numerous or more severe disasters.

NOAA experts and other climate scientists generally demur on this question, reluctant to apportion how much of the damage could be attributed to a changing climate as opposed to other factors. One key factor also known to be worsening damage is that there is more valuable infrastructure, such as homes and businesses, in harm’s way — along coastlines or in areas vulnerable to wildfire.  Since the population in Texas is expected to nearly double by 2070, one should assume that the infrastructure in vulnerable areas will also increase, meaning the cost of extreme weather disasters to the state will continue to climb.

In the coming year, climate advocates such as ourselves will need to continue to combat the ignorance, misconceptions, and downright falsities that plague climate activism. We are increasingly encouraged to find local communities taking the lead in this battle. Austin has already passed a climate action plan. San Antonio, Dallas and Houston are in the process of developing similar plans. These are large metropolitan areas, but smaller cities and towns can take similar actions. Below are actions you, your business and community can take to mitigate climate change. We encourage you implement what you can, and we will continue to update you on what is happening in the state and in local communities.

Climate Solutions for Your Home, Business and Community

Climate change is a dangerous threat to our communities, but the solutions are ripe with opportunity.

Vote

Climate change is a problem that will require policy changes. Voting and letting elected officials know that you support climate-friendly policies is critically important. Policy changes at all levels and types of government are needed. Pay attention and participate in decisions at your school district, city, county, state government and federal government. Do your research on political candidates – even those in down-ballot races – before going to the voting booth to make sure you are casting educated votes. Many of the solutions below will be most effective with comprehensive policies to support them.

Community Climate Plan

Setting goals for greenhouse gas emissions reductions and developing a community climate action plan can provide an organized roadmap of actions to take as a community and as individuals. A community climate plan should begin by conducting a full greenhouse gas emissions inventory. The process should be open and driven by public participation.

Energy Efficiency

Reduce the amount of energy it takes to heat and cool buildings by sealing cracks, adding insulation, sealing ducts, and replacing old air conditioning units. Use programmable thermostats to reduce energy waste while buildings are unoccupied.

Co-benefits: Electricity bills will be reduced and comfort improved. Local jobs can be created.

Government: Adopt and enforce the 2015 Energy Code. Retrofit government facilities. Adopt Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) to allow commercial customers to finance energy and water efficiency and renewable energy investments.

Homeowners: When purchasing a home, get an energy audit before closing. Get energy audits for existing homes. Utilize incentives from your electric utility to make efficiency upgrades.

Businesses: Do a full cost/benefit analysis of making energy efficiency improvements. Consider utilizing the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program to finance energy efficiency upgrades.

Renewable Energy

Purchase renewable energy for government buildings, homes and businesses.

Co-benefit: Fixed price contracts for wind and solar can protect against future energy price increases. Local jobs can be created.

Government: Buy or contract for wind and solar energy to power government facilities. Create community solar and solar group purchasing programs for residents.

Homeowners: Get a solar energy system installed at your home. Get at least three quotes and inquire about financing options. Or participate in community solar, where available.

Businesses: Get solar installed on unused roof space or on parking shelters. Consider utilizing the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program to finance on-site solar.

Transportation

Reduce vehicle miles driven by utilizing public transportation, and transition to electric vehicles.

Co-benefits: Public transportation increases mobility for low-income residents and reduces transportation costs. Electric vehicles eliminate local air pollution and are cheaper to maintain and operate.

Government: Fund public transportation (rail and busses). Transition your vehicle fleet to all-electric. Even electric heavy vehicles, such as garbage trucks, are becoming available. Make car chargers (including rapid chargers) available in public parking spaces.

Residents: Utilize public transportation, car-pooling, bicycles and walking whenever possible. Purchase an electric vehicle.

Businesses: Transition company fleets to electric vehicles. Provide electric vehicle charging for your employees and customers. Create a company car-pool program and incentivize employees to use it.

Waste

Reduce the amount of waste that goes into landfills. Composting keeps organic materials out of landfills, where they create methane – a powerful greenhouse gas. Recycling reduces the need for raw materials, which have a carbon footprint.

Co-benefits: Reduce the need for new landfills, which are unpopular in any community. Compost is a valuable fertilizer for lawns, gardens and farms.

Government: Establish a goal for reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills. Establish curbside recycling and composting programs, as well as drop-off locations. Provide recycling and composting receptacles wherever there are trash cans.

Residents: Utilize city composting, create or buy a backyard composter or utilize community composting at local community gardens. Recycle everything you can. Avoid buying disposable products and products with packaging that can’t be recycled.

Businesses: Provide recycling receptacles wherever there are trash cans. In restaurants, provide composting in the kitchen, and also for customers to use, if customers bus their own tables. Phase out products and packaging that are difficult or impossible to recycle. In restaurants, replace plastic straws, utensils and dishes with compostable products (or at least recyclable products).

PUC Executive Director Brian H. Lloyd submitted his resignation Wednesday, January 3, 2018, effective March 1st.

He framed his decision to leave as a personal, spiritual decision, and added that the March 1st date was intended to allow the PUC “sufficient time to deliberate” in considering applicants for his position.

Houston Mayor Turner, City Council Members, and community members displaced by Harvey speaking at a City of Houston press conference.

Months after Hurricane Harvey, Houstonians are still suffering. Over 5,000 people are not in their homes, some housed in hotels, others hopping between family or friends to ensure a roof over their heads. City of Houston urgently requests funding from the federal government to help the most vulnerable rebuild as well as to mitigate future flooding disasters.

As the U.S. House approved $81 billion for hurricane relief today, Texans await for the U.S. Senate to follow in their footsteps to help support hurricane-ravaged Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico. Yet this, according to Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, is not enough. He called the reluctance to fully fund the $61 billion aid request from Texas a “formula for failure,” stating that the current proposal will not do enough to help those most vulnerable. In order for Houston to become a stronger and more resilient city, it needs strong support from the state and federal governments.

Gov. Abbott’s request for $61 billion, which the House did not fully fund in their package, includes $12 billion for what’s known as the “Ike Dike.” The Ike Dike is a proposed barrier that would be constructed in order to reduce the impact of storm surge on the petrochemical plants and refineries that line Galveston Bay and the Houston Ship Channel. It would also include $466 million for the Port of Houston to “create resiliency” and harden the Houston Ship Channel.

Who Pays for Harvey?

While a 20 foot storm surge would no doubt create untold ecological, environmental, and health crises, the real impetus behind the Ike Dike is to protect the assets of the petrochemical industry, and this is $12+ billion  taxpayer-funded bailout. Public Citizen joins Center for Climate Integrity as part of a campaign called Who Pays for Harvey. Scientists have demonstrated that the rainfall and flooding from Harvey was made worse due to climate change-related effects. Furthermore, many of the major petrochemical companies that line the Houston Ship Channel have been aware of the impacts of climate change for decades, yet have actively funded denial campaigns to mislead the American public. Rather than another corporate bailout, government should hold corporations accountable for their role in climate change. Corporations should at the very least foot the bill for the infrastructure projects that serve to protect their assets, while leaving federal dollars to help the most vulnerable rebuild and put their lives back together.

Public Citizen will be closed for the holidays on Monday, December 25, 2017; Monday, January 1, 2018; and Tuesday, January 2, 2018.  We wish all of you a safe and happy holiday season and look forward to the new year.

By Lowell Ungar,  American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy Senior Policy Advisor

Although the tax bill passed by Congress today will bring the largest changes to taxes (and government revenue) seen in decades, we don’t expect the bill to have such a dramatic impact on energy efficiency.

The greatest impacts, both positive and negative, will likely come from the broad changes to tax and revenue. Some companies and families will have more money to spend on efficiency improvements (or on energy-using activities) as a result of the tax cuts; others will have less. The deduction for state and local taxes will be capped, which could make it more difficult for state and local governments to invest taxpayer dollars in efficiency upgrades and programs. Federal deficits will go up, which could increase pressures to cut agency spending, including on efficiency programs.

In addition, two specific provisions will have a relatively direct impact on energy efficiency investments, also both good and bad…

To continue reading ACEEE’s blog post about their take on the tax bill’s impacts on energy efficiency, visit: http://aceee.org/blog/2017/12/what-tax-bill-may-mean-energy

About ACEEE: The acts as a catalyst to advance energy efficiency policies, programs, technologies, investments, and behaviors. For information about ACEEE and its programs, publications, and conferences, visit aceee.org

The population in Texas is expected to nearly double by 2070, and the state is also particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change.  Because of this confluence of  threats (dense population and inherent exposure to a number of types of natural disasters that include, but are not limited to drought, flooding, hurricanes, tornadoes and wildfires), we are looking at a not so excellent future for a state with already strained resources.  It is important that the state look at mitigating the negative effects of population growth and climate change.

On November 29th, academicians, urban planning and environment experts discussed the future of Texas through the research initiative Planet Texas 2050  as part of the Environmental Science Institute’s 110th Hot Science Cool Talks. Panelists included UT mechanical engineering professor Michael Webber, urban revitalization strategist Majora Carter and leading climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe from Texas Tech.

Planet Texas 2050 researchers are tasked with planning for the sustainability of Texas and include faculty and staff researchers from UT’s Jackson School of Geosciences, Environmental Science Institute, College of Liberal Arts and more.

According to the Environmental Science Institute director Jay Banner, global warming is creating more frequent and intense natural disasters such as droughts and hurricanes. Coupled with a quickly rising population, the impacts could affect many aspects of Texan life including health, the economy and even our supply of barbecue.

Webber said he believes we can view natural disasters and a rising population as an opportunity to not only become more sustainable, but also to get rich doing it through properly managing and profiting off of Texas’ large supply of renewable energy resources.

Webber added that while Texas needs to decrease carbon dioxide emissions, which worsen the effects of climate change, people can utilize wind energy and experiment with more sustainable technologies. He said moving away from using automobiles, which are a large contributor of greenhouse gases, is a great step to take.

Looking at the destructive nature of Hurricane Harvey, he went on to suggest a silver lining.  “Let’s not replace all 500,000 cars that were wiped out by Hurricane Harvey,” Webber said. “Let’s not repeat the mistakes of the past but use these challenges to get better.”

Hayhoe also said moving away from our old ways is important in preparing for the future.

“The future is different, so trying to invest in coal today is like trying to invest in a horse buggy,” Hayhoe said.

Hayhoe pointed out that Texas pays the most out of all U.S. states on events like hurricanes, tornadoes, forest fires and many other natural threats.

The panelists were overall optimistic for the future of Texas while still emphasizing the intensity of the challenges ahead.  Public support for the findings of these experts will go a long way to ensuring our elected officials take note and lead us into a more sustainable future.

An intrepid group from Environment Texas, joined by staff of the Texas office of Public Citizen, staged a protest in front of the federal building in Austin, Texas protesting provisions in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act – H.R.1 (115th Congress for 2017-2018), which the Senate passed early Saturday morning, that would change federal law on a matter that has little to do with the tax code. The bill authorizes the sale of oil and gas leases in a section of the ANWR on Alaska’s North Slope, the coastal plain that faces the Arctic Ocean. The Senate bill will now be reconciled with the House version in conference so there is still an opportunity for you to let your Congresspersons and Senators know that you oppose this measure.

This morning is as close to artic weather as we get in Central Texas these days (43  ̊F, windy and raining) and that’s me across the street taking this picture

Note: Today Governor Greg Abbott designated the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality as the lead agency to administer $209 million of funding from the Volkswagen (VW) settlement. The money is intended to remedy harm caused by illegal emissions from VWs by reducing air pollution through purchase of clean vehicles. The Healthy Port Communities Coalition and its members are asking for that money to be spent on electric vehicles and infrastructure.
TCEQ’s press release: https://www.tceq.texas.gov/news/releases/gov-abbott-selects-tceq-to-distribute-209-million

Statement of Adrian Shelley, Director, Public Citizen’s Texas Office

Governor Greg Abbott has a chance for a trifecta here: create jobs, reduce pollution, and lower operating costs for local governments. The Volkswagen settlement can make this possible. Because Volkswagen polluted Texas with illegal emissions from diesel vehicles, the top priority for using settlement funds is to remove old, dirty diesel vehicles from the road. These vehicles should be replaced with all-electric vehicles (EVs) in order to save lives and help Texas meet federal air pollution standards.

The Volkswagen settlement funds also provide an economic opportunity for Texas. Texans build trucks, heavy duty equipment, and batteries. Texans have the technical know-how to build electric vehicle infrastructure. Electric vehicles built and sold in Texas will consume energy produced in Texas. Furthermore, these vehicles will get cleaner as electricity production in Texas gets greener. Compressed natural gas vehicles aren’t going to get any cleaner over time—they will still continue to produce the carbon dioxide and methane emissions responsible for climate change. EVs also save money over the life of the vehicles because their fuel and maintenance costs are much lower. There is no comparison: Electric Vehicles are the best option for Texas.

Investing in electric vehicles and infrastructure now will reduce costs in the long term. Government fleets will pay less for fuel. EVs can be charged with clean, renewable energy produced right here in Texas. This is the future, and Governor Abbott has an opportunity to seize it now.

Statement of Rev. James Caldwell, founder and executive director of Coalition of Community Organizations:

The Healthy Port Communities Coalition implores the Governor and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to leverage funds from the Volkswagen penalties to purchase electric vehicles, which are the cleanest vehicles available today, to reduce emissions and to help provide relief to communities breathing in toxic air every day.


Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C., with an office in Austin, Texas.

The Healthy Port Communities Coalition advocates for the health and welfare of Houston Ship Channel communities, and includes Air Alliance Houston, the Coalition of Community Organizations, Public Citizen, and Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services.

 

Wishes you a safe and happy
Thanksgiving Holiday

And when you return, join us to start the rest of your holiday celebrations at
The 10th Annual Austin Green Holiday Party
Presented by Barr Mansion & The Shades of Green Radio Show

Wednesday, December 6th, 2017 from 6-10pm
Hosted and Sponsored by Barr Mansion
10463 Sprinkle Rd., Austin, TX 78754 (www.barrmansion.com)

Advance Tickets $25.00, ($30.00 at door)
(Tickets include snacks, dinner, all drinks and live music)

Co-Hosted by:

Join us for the Austin green mixer of the year, our 10th, can you believe it?  Hosted this year by 18 great organizations (including Public Citizen), this event is a fun place for area environmentalists to come together, celebrate, scheme and prepare for the new year.

Magical music by Seu Jacinto, a group introducing and developing traditional Northeastern Brazilian culture to Central Texas. Seu Jacinto pays homage to the masters of the Brazilian folk musical traditions of forró, coco, cavalo marinho, and many other Northeast Brazilian rhythms.

Experience how our hosts and sponsors Barr Mansion are at the nexus of a merging of the environmental and food movements while enjoying a buffet featuring a variety of their seasonal, all-organic favorites.

It’s been a crazy year so let’s “regroup”, have some fun and get ourselves ready for  2018. We look forward to seeing you there!

Who Pays for Harvey?

I wrote recently about the difficulty of “blaming” any particular storm on global climate change. I pointed out there that scientists don’t usually reach conclusions in the form of: “X definitely caused Y.” Particularly when complex global systems are involved.

That remains true, but research recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences makes a pretty strong claim about the link. Researchers assert that climate change made a storm such as Harvey six times more likely. That’s a startling figure.

We are also gaining insight about the causes of climate change–more specifically, about who caused climate change. A recent report by researchers at the Climate Accountability Institute asserts that just 90 companies are responsible for two-thirds of all man made carbon dioxide and methane emissions since 1854. The report found that Chevron, ExxonMobil, and BP were each individually responsible for 2 to 3 percent of all carbon emissions for the period 1880-2010. Only the country of Saudi Arabia had a larger contribution, with more than 3 percent.

These recent findings lead us to one conclusion: if we know climate change is causing major storms, and we know which companies are responsible for climate change, shouldn’t we start holding them accountable?

Harvey will cost taxpayers in excess of $100 billion. The City of Houston, the state of Texas, and the federal government have all committed millions to the cleanup effort. But it won’t be enough. Houstonians are already paying for Harvey. When will climate polluters pay their fare share?

We launched WhoPaysForHarvey.com with our colleagues at the Center for Climate Integrity to ask that question? Together we’ve started a pledge that we’re asking you to sign? Do you believe its fair for the entities that caused climate change to pay for its effects? Do you think fossil fuel companies have gotten off the hook, despite knowing for decades (#ExxonKnew) about the harm they were causing?

If you agree with us, please sign our pledge. This won’t be the last severe storm Texas endures. It’s time we started planning for the future, instead of rebuilding the mistakes of the past.

Who Pays for Harvey?

Barr Mansion & The Shades of Green Radio Show Present
The 10th Annual Austin Green Holiday Party

Wednesday, December 6th, 2017 from 6-10pm
Hosted and Sponsored by Barr Mansion
10463 Sprinkle Rd., Austin, TX 78754 (www.barrmansion.com)

Advance Tickets $25.00, ($30.00 at door)
(Tickets include snacks, dinner, all drinks and live music)

Co-Hosted by:

Join us for the Austin green mixer of the year, our 10th, can you believe it?  Hosted this year by 18 great organizations (including Public Citizen), this event is a fun place for area environmentalists to come together, celebrate, scheme and prepare for the new year.

Magical music by Seu Jacinto, a group introducing and developing traditional Northeastern Brazilian culture to Central Texas. Seu Jacinto pays homage to the masters of the Brazilian folk musical traditions of forró, coco, cavalo marinho, and many other Northeast Brazilian rhythms.

Experience how our hosts and sponsors Barr Mansion are at the nexus of a merging of the environmental and food movements while enjoying a buffet featuring a variety of their seasonal, all-organic favorites.

It’s been a crazy year so let’s “regroup”, have some fun and get ourselves ready for  2018. We look forward to seeing you there!