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Senator Brian Schatz will lead the Talkathon  Photo by Audrey McAvoy, AP

Senator Brian Schatz (D – Hawaii) will lead the Talkathon
Photo by Audrey McAvoy, AP

Tonight, 28 US Senators will stay up discussing climate change all night to get Congress to ‘wake up’ to the realities of the issue.

The so-called talkathon is scheduled to begin after Senate’s last votes today and continue until 9 AM tomorrow morning. During the night the Senators, comprised of 26 Democrats and 2 Independents, will be tweeting from the talkathon using the hashtag #Up4Climate, hoping to get the attention of Congress and the American people.

The talkathon is organized by the Climate Action Task Force, a group launched in January whose goal is to take an aggressive stance on climate in Congress, and led by Brian Schatz (D – Hawaii).

You can follow the Senate’s Climate Change Talkathon on Twitter with the hashtag #Up4Climate and sign the Climate Action Task Force’s petition here.

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If you live in the Houston area, you may be in the danger zone of a toxic chemical facility, and oil and chemical industry executives are trying to keep it that way. These toxic chemical facilities are vulnerable to accidents or terrorist attacks, even though safer alternatives are available. Now Congress is considering industry-backed legislation (HR 908) that would deny the Department of Homeland Security authority they have requested to require high risk facilities to prevent chemical disasters by using safer, available alternatives.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee could be voting on this within days, and your representative, Congressman Gene Green, is a critical vote.

Call Congressman Green’s office today and ask him to VOTE AGAINST HR 908. (202) 225-9903

If you can eliminate the risk of chemical disaster or the consequences of a terrorist attack, you should, right? Well if Congress passes this legislation, that common sense thinking will be held hostage for up to seven years.

This legislation also contains huge loopholes. It would exempt 500 port facilities including 125 refineries, as well as 2,400 water and waste-water treatment facilities. These facilities put millions of people at risk and will not be covered if this bill is passed.

Disaster prevention should be the heart of any chemical plant security legislation. A comprehensive approach should be taken that closes the current loopholes, requires the highest risk facilities to switch to safer alternatives, and gives workers and communities the ability to hold these facilities accountable.

An independent analysis of comprehensive legislation passed in 2009 showed that the bill would create jobs and provide a stimulus for local governments.

Congress should stop wasting its time and risking our lives with seven more years of delay, and should focus on constructing a comprehensive approach that focuses on preventing chemical disasters in Houston, and around the Country.

Call Congressman Green’s office today and ask him to VOTE AGAINST HR 908. (202) 225-9903

After you call his office, send him an email through our main website.

Not sure if you’re in Congressman Green’s district (district 29)? Check out the map. Still call even if you aren’t in his district. Though voices of his constituents are the most effective, anyone living in Houston should be concerned with this issue and you have every right to let him know your concerns.

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The Senate is about to hear legislation pertaining to coal ash waste regulation. There is an amendment proposed to slash EPA’s funding so that they cannot enforce safeguards at coal ash waste landfills. The following is a message from our friends with Environmental Integrity Project. Please take a few moments to contact your senator and let them know you want enforcement of regulations on these very hazardous and dangerous waste sites.

Dear Friends,

Thank you for helping to influence 183 Representatives in the US House to vote against Congressman McKinley’s amendment to eliminate EPA’s funding to regulate coal ash as a hazardous waste.  Eighteen Representatives were Republicans switching ranks to vote against their party’s leadership and for safe water.

Within one week we MUST defeat this amendment likely to be proposed to the budget bill (Continuing Resolution) that is brought to the floor of the Senate, or this egregious proposal to slash EPA’s funding could become a reality – leaving EPA unable to enforce basic safeguards at toxic coal ash dumps such as liners, covers or monitoring and thousands of American communities nearby in harm’s way.

Nearly a half million Americans submitted comments on the EPA’s proposed coal ash rules with a majority of them in support of safeguards.   More than a thousand concerned citizens who traveled to 8 day-long EPA hearings supported these safeguards.  Clearly, Americans have voiced their support FOR protection of our drinking water and public health by the US EPA.

Please call your Senators today and urge them to vote NO to any amendments to cut the US EPA’s authority to protect our health from toxic coal ash.
Use this link to find phone numbers for your Senators – you just need to type in your zip code: http://www.contactingthecongress.org/

1.  Tell your Senators you want them to respect the rule-making process and the comments that their constituents submitted on the EPA coal ash regulation.

2.  Tell them to let the US EPA to do its job and protect public health.

3.  Ask them if you can count on their support for basic safeguards to protect public health from toxic coal ash.

After you make your call, please let us know you’ve made the calls and what their offices said.  Send your responses to: [email protected].

Please let your US Senators know today that Americans throughout the country want to be protected – call them immediately and tell them to uphold our right to safe drinking water.

Thanks for your continuing help and please spread the word.

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

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Lawrence Lessig, Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

Lawrence Lessig, Professor at Harvard Law School, is coming to Austin to speak on the corrosive influence of Money in Politics.

Lawrence Lessig, Professor at Harvard Law School, is coming to Austin to speak on the corrosive influence of Money in Politics, thanks to our good friends at the Coffee Party Austin.  Seating is limited, and having a ticket will guarantee you a seat. However, if you do not get a ticket, there will be some seats left for those no-show ticket holders. We want to fill the room, so even if you don’t get a ticket, show up and chances are you can get in.

We’ve decided to give these away in a fashion befitting both Dr. Lessig and the Coffee Party, via social media. We will give away some via our Twitter, some on our Facebook, between now and the weekend. So friend us or follow us for your chance to score some of these fabulous prizes.

If you’ve never seen a Lessig presentation, you need to.  Watch this brief clip, via Lessig’s FixCongressFirst Youtube page:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTpd9Nf-uSo]
We’ll be giving tickets away several times a day Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, so keep a watch on our Twitter/Facebook for your chance for guaranteed entrance to what will definitely be an amazing evening.
MORE DETAILS:

Professor Lessig’s presentation will be followed by a panel discussion, moderated by the Quorum Report’s Harvey Kronberg, featuring (more…)

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Today, the US House Administration Committee voted the Fair Elections Now Act out of committee.  San Antonio Representative Charlie Gonzalez cast a decisive vote in favor of the bill, putting a bill that would give optional public financing to all Congressional candidates for further than it has ever gone before.

Tell Charlie Gonzalez how you feel– thank him for his vote and leadership by calling his office at (202) 225-3236 (DC) or (210) 472-6195 (San Antonio).

Unfortunately, in the Senate, Republicans continued to filibuster the DISCLOSE Act.  They did this a few months ago, too. At the time Public Citizen’s Craig Holman had this to say about it, and we think it’s still apt.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MsCSjRslmm4]

Texas Senators Cornyn and Hutchison voted in favor of corporate special interests who want to hide how they’re pulling the strings in Washington, and I think you should tell them so.

And because no punchbowl for Fair Elections would be complete without some corporate tool laying a dookie in it, enter Texas Rep. Joe Barton, who you may remember apologized to BP, feeling the oil-spilling giant had been mistreated by Congress.  Well, he’s still apologizing to corporations, now saying that his committee should hold hearings on Fair Elections Now, which he’s already made up his mind on (hint:  he ain’t fer it.) This is nothing more than a massive delay tactic, just like the time he made a rule that all amendments to Waxman-Markey be read aloud in committee, so the committee hired a speed-reader.

In any case, we still have a lot to be happy about.  There is some possibility we could get a full vote on Fair Elections Now before the end of the year in the House– if your member of Congress hasn’t publicly stated they will support it, they need to hear from you!  And if they have stated their support, call them anyway and thank them for standing up to special interests.

By the by, I’ll be at the National Coffee Party Convention in Louisville the next few days, where I’ll be presenting on a couple of panels about these very issues.  If you want to participate virtually, you can!  From Coffee Party’s email:

The big news today is that we are LIVE STREAMING the convention from Louisville starting at 8:30 AM ET tomorrow (Friday). Convention participants, both in person and via webcast can interact via Twitter (#CoffeeParty), Facebook, on our convention website, main website and on our newly created Ustream channel.

CLICK HERE for today’s press release about added speaker John Avlon, and HERE for Monday’s release about Lt. Dan Choi and Fair Elections Now.

We are especially excited about livestreaming the Mock Constitutional Convention on Saturday from 10:30am-4:30pm co-chaired by Lawrence Lessig and Mark McKinnon.

To read about the speakers, CLICK HERE. To review the schedule of events, CLICK HERE. To read about the break-out sessions, CLICK HERE.

You can still REGISTER online. You can also register in person at the registration desk when you arrive at the Galt House.

We are currently raising funds for the following purposes: $5,000 for Audio/Visual expenses, including production and live-streaming costs that are allowing us to document as many workshops and panel discussions as we can, which will become on-line educational tools available to the public.

It would be tremendously helpful if you could donate for this. $5, $10, $20, any amount would help.

DONATE

The convention and the web cast will wrap up Sunday night with a viewing party of MTV Networks’ television world premiere of “9500 Liberty.” This is the film that Eric Byler and I co-directed that documents how the extremists dominated the debate over immigration in Prince William County, VA in 2007 & 2008 and how the silent majority organized and restored balance to the government. On Sunday, the film will be broadcast to 100 milion homes across America.

This video explains how the lessons of 9500 Liberty inspired the creation of the Coffee Party. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8sQUYarTig

See you in Louisville, or, we’ll see you online! And, thank you so much for being part of the Coffee Party community.

Good night, good luck, and see you around the coffee pot.

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

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Recently, I learned about a good website that tracks the flow of corporate energy money in Congress. The website is a great tool for someone who is interested in knowing who gets what from who and if you are a Texan you will get to see your state initials in many places in the website. The website ranks Congressmen according to how much money they receive from dirty energy corporations but unlike Texas’ football rankings, these rankings don’t make me proud.
There are six Congressmen and women who rank among the top recipients of dirty energy money. Three of them are from Texas, two of which occupy the top two ranks on the list. The top recipient is John Cornyn, next is (Guess who) Joe Barton, and also on the list, the former Republican Governor candidate , Kay Bailey Hutchison. It would make sense why Texas was one of the loudest states in voicing opposition to the offshore-drilling moratorium and it make sense why a guy like Joe Barton would apologize to BP in front of the whole nation while maintaining a straight face.

There are many key findings in the website and the numbers are staggering. Besides listing the “dirtiest politicians,” Dirty Energy Money lists “Dirtiest Congresses,” and “Big-Spending Companies.” So far, this 111th Congress has only collected about 14 million dollars in contributions from dirty energy companies which are much less than the 22 million contributed to the 110th Congress but 2010 is not over yet.

Dirty Energy Money also compares the funds received by both parties from the different energy industries. It also compares votes on major energy legislation while showing how much money the Yeas received verses the Nay’s.

Visit the website, you will find many revealing facts about the two parties, Congress, companies, and the politicians involved. It is definitely a good resource for you to look at before you cast you vote in November.

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

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Please join us in supporting ILoveMountains.org in their ongoing campaign to bring a halt to Mountaintop Removal (MTR) Coal Mining. There is a bill in front of the House of Representatives that would do a great deal to help stop this incredibly destructive operation.

As you probably know, MTR is one of the most ecologically destructive practices on the planet (and that’s saying a lot). It completely destroys huge sections of the Appalachian forests and mountains which are the second-most biological diverse region on the surface of planet Earth (second only to the tropical rain forests). (more…)

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This just in from EPA:

LOS ANGELES – U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson will announce today in a keynote address at the California Governor’s Global Climate Summit that the Agency has taken a significant step to address greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under the Clean Air Act. The Administrator will announce a proposal requiring large industrial facilities that emit at least 25,000 tons of GHGs a year to obtain construction and operating permits covering these emissions. These permits must demonstrate the use of best available control technologies and energy efficiency measures to minimize GHG emissions when facilities are constructed or significantly modified.

The full text of the Administrators remarks will be posted at www.epa.gov later this afternoon.

UPDATED: that text is now available here.

“Wow” would be an understatement.  This on the heels of the release of Senator Kerry and Boxer and their climate bill.  Here’s my statement on that subject:

Sept. 30, 2009

Reaction to Boxer-Kerry Climate Change Discussion Draft

Statement of Andy Wilson, Global Warming Program Director, Public Citizen’s Texas Office

The Boxer-Kerry draft includes some important measures to address climate change and create new green jobs, but it is simply not sufficient to solve climate change or create the green jobs revolution we need. While an improvement in some ways over Waxman-Markey and its billions in giveaways to polluting special interests, the discussion draft put forth by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.) still punts on many of the most contentious issues, such as how and to whom emissions allowances will be allocated or auctioned. Waxman-Markey started off similarly strong and vague but was weakened as it went through the committee hearing process. Sen. Boxer must work to strengthen the bill as she guides it through her Environment and Public Works Committee hearings.

The discussion draft calls for a 20 percent reduction in greenhouse gas pollution from 2005 levels by 2020. This is a slight improvement over the 17 percent called for by Waxman-Markey, but is far short of the goals our best science tells us we need to make. Specifically, the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change tells us in order to avoid the worst of global climate catastrophe, we need to cut our pollution levels 25 to 40 percent below 1990 levels.

Japan will cut its emissions 25 percent by 2020; the EU has signaled it may meet or beat that goal. Why would we set ourselves to lag behind the rest of the world? We must win the technology races in manufacturing advanced energy technology so we do not replace importing oil with importing solar cells.

The draft should be applauded for including strong language to protect consumers and protect the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) authority to regulate emissions in the future.

Among the changes we recommend to the draft are alterations to address these problems:

Allowances should be auctioned 100 percent. President Obama’s budget continues to show revenues from a 100 percent auction and EPA analysis of Waxman-Markey found this to be the least regressive method of implementation.

Subsidies for nuclear should be removed. Despite recent findings by Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Commissioner Jon Wellinghoff that the United States will never need to build another traditional power plant, the bill spends considerable space on (Subtitle C, Sec 131) and would allocate significant resources to nuclear power. Nuclear is neither as carbon-free nor as safe as the draft language claims. Neither is it cost-effective. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated half of all federal loan guarantees for nuclear loan guarantees will fail, meaning any extension of these guarantees is a pre-emptive bailout of the nuclear industry leaving the taxpayers on the hook for up to half a trillion dollars.

The draft still relies on more than two billion tons in offsets – actually expanding permitted offsets from the Waxman-Markey language. This has huge potential consequences. It means that despite the intent of the draft, we could conceivably end up having failed to reduce emissions at all – and with major questions about whether alleged offsets were even achieved. While the offset oversight language is considerably better than in Waxman-Markey, it still is troubling that we are relying on offsets rather than actually decreasing our pollution.

The draft does nothing to improve vague language in Waxman-Markey, which could effectively grandfather more than 40 proposed coal-fired power plants, including up to a dozen in Texas alone. These proposed plants would be exempted from new performance standards in the bill, while a plant built just three years from now will have to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by half.

With Kerry-Boxer maintaining EPA’s right to regulate CO2 as a pollutant, this sets the table nicely to try to get a bill passed which will both solve climate change and create the new energy economy we need.  We just need to improve the ground of the special-interest-riddled Congress.  Tip of my hat to Paul Krugman and Tom Friedman for their articles on this earlier this week about the severity of the problem that faces us and the relatively lame responses by our government.  As a palate cleanser, please to enjoy this 15 second video from [adult swim] about what the REAL problem may be:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUAUnjhB7l4]

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At 10 a.m. EDT today, a grave test for our democracy began. Whether you’re taking to the streets or hanging our printed poster in your window, help us show the media, the Supreme Court and Congress that citizens across the U.S. won’t stand for more corporate influence in politics. Send your photos, videos, blog posts and stories to [email protected]

rollforwebYour pledges to protest have been inspiring, and we are anticipating a lot of rabble-rousing today. But our work is only just beginning. Some time before the end of the year, we expect the Supreme Court to make its decision. We hope that the justices will rule on the side of the public interest.

But if the justices decide to open the floodgates to corporate money in politics, we ask you to please be prepared for bigger and bolder action.

Beginning today, we are asking you to help us collect pledges to protest any decision that increases corporate influence in our elections. If you’re taking to the streets, please download and print our printable Pledge to Protest. If you aren’t in the streets, you can still protest by warning your network of friends, family and colleagues and asking them to pledge to protest any decision by the court that gives corporations more advantage over citizens.

Please send us photos, video and stories to [email protected] so we can share your outrage.

Stay tuned to hear about the protests happening across the country today and the impact you had.

Thank you for all you do!

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The US Chamber of Commerce wants to put the science of global warming on trial.  Not only that, they themselves claim they want this trial to be similar to the Scopes Monkey Trial where a Tennessee teacher was put on trial for teaching evolution, made even more famous by the play and film “Inherit the Wind.”

Seriously?  SERIOUSLY?

Because the only way to respond to this is through mockery and derision (surely they can’t actually be serious?), we present to you:

INHERIT THE HOT AIR!!! (a comedy in 3 acts)

[vimeo 6282295]

We apologize for the numerous Saturday Night Live circa 1989 references (especially the somewhat obscure “Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer“) and the blatant callbacks to Inherit the Wind, and also ask people to please NOT place plastic bags on their heads and inhale deeply.  No Andys were harmed in the filming of this video and I was able to breathe freely at all times.  I promise.

On a serious note, what the Chamber is trying to do is to overturn and stall a process which is well underway.  In 2007, the Supreme Court in Massachusetts v EPA stated that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, it is linked to climate change, and the EPA should regulate it under the Clean Air Act.  In compliance with this ruling, (and only after delays by the Bush Administration which kept this action from occurring), the EPA earlier this year presented an initial endangerment finding, the first step in allowing them to regulate CO2 and other greenhouse gases.  They then opened the finding for public comment, which could be sent in by writing, and also held public meetings in Arlington, VA and Seattle, WA to gather public input.

According to documents posted at the Wonk Room, the US Chamber’s main argument is that previous public comment periods have somehow “Tainted” the process and that only an elaborate show trial, orchestrated by them and by putting their junk scientists on the stand, can eliminate the “taint.”  (And you know, “Tainted Endangerment Finding” was one of my favorite 80’s songs.)

So, according to the Chamber, public comment is bad, but the opinion of big business and their sham scientists can remove the stain from input by the witless masses.

All of this seems far too much like the plot of a Coen Brothers (or Marx Brothers) movie.  These are serious times which require serious thought and reflection, not comical misdirection.  But like the Fool in King Lear, only through comedy can we confront the tragedy that surrounds us and point out the serious misdeeds taking place.  And this sham by the Chamber of Commerce is even more destructive, because as long as we keep endlessly debating “Is It Happening?” we will never get around to “How Do We Solve It?”

In the words of Stan Lee, “Nuff Said.”

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round upThe Congress may be in recess, but the Texas Progressive Alliance is always in session. Here’s the weekly roundup of blog highlights.

Off the Kuff takes a closer look at the crimefighting plan of Houston Mayoral candidate Annise Parker.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson encourages everyone to get involved in lobbying their elected officials and engaging in the political process in You get out of it, what you put into it.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme says John Cornyn is full of sh*t!

Neil at Texas Liberal is in Chicago. He has no notion of how to insert a link in an e-mail with the WordPress iPhone application. Neil hopes you and yours are having a nice summer. Neil will be visiting the Indiana State Fair this week. He’ll be the guy in a Houston Astros hat. (Note: link to Neil’s site inserted by link roundup editor.)

The Texas Cloverleaf looks at why whitey in Denton County is scared of ACORN.

Over at McBlogger, Mayor McSleaze is having some issues with churches that closely resemble Vegas casinos.

Following his return from North Korea with two American journalists, PDiddie at Brains and Eggs came to the realization that Bill Clinton is The Most Interesting Man in the World.

Over at TexasKaos, Libby Shaw gives us chapter and verse on the “Obstructionist Politicians on the Take and Corporate Teabaggers who are attempting to sabotage Health care reform. Well worth the read and viewing…..

WhosPlayin reports on an eventful week in North Texas: Drafted Congressional Candidate Jennifer Giles attended a town hall meeting for Rep. Michael Burgess and asked a question that earned her some air time on CNN.

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meltingAction Alert!

Climate change legislation currently being debated in Congress will prove a boon to the coal and oil industries, will fail to protect consumers and may very well not even curb global warming.

Lawmakers have conducted closed door negotiations with polluters.

The result: The bill was radically altered to accommodate the financial interests of big energy corporations while giving nothing new for the environment or for working families. Lawmakers have decided to give away most of the pollution allowances for free for the next two decades – an approach that would hurt working families and households the most. It will deprive the government of the money needed to invest in clean technologies and thwart the very goal of curbing global warming.

This is hardly the transformation this country needs to jump-start its economy and curb climate change. This is more of the same old wait-and-see, special-interest-bailout approach that has gripped Washington, D.C., for ages.

Tell your representatives that climate change legislation should not be weakened by the corrupting influence of big money, and that the people’s business should be done in front of the people.

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Excellent news from San Antonio!

One:  According to a new poll by the Willie Velasquez Institute, the majority of Texans are in favor of the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACESA), the big cap and trade bill currently being debated in Congress.

Two: Latino leaders and organizations in San Antonio have formed a coalition called Tejanos for a Better Future to promote climate change mitigation and adaptation from a Latino perspective.

Hope Texas leadership **cough, cough Charlie Gonzalez and Gene Green** is listening because it looks as if ACESA will be voted out of committee tonight, and these Congressmen’s’ opportunity to hold heavy sway over this legislation is fast reaching an end.

WCVI Calls for Congressmen Green and Gonzalez to Vote for Landmark Climate Change Bill

San Antonio, TX – The William C. Velasquez Institute (WCVI) recently completed a flash poll of registered voters in Texas Congressional Districts 20 and 29 and the preliminary findings imply strong support for the landmark Climate Change bill, American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACESA).

WCVI, which held Latino Leadership meetings in San Antonio and Los Angeles on April 25th and in Houston on May 21st to discuss this bill, is urging community members to contact Representative Charlie Gonzalez’s and Gene Green’s Offices to support the bill. As members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, they hold important swing votes, which could be scheduled as soon as today.

Further, WCVI, along with other Latino leaders, have formed Tejanos for a Better Future, a coalition of leaders and organizations in San Antonio. Its goal is to promote climate change mitigation and adaptation from a Latino/Hispanic perspective.

The climate crisis will disproportionately impact Latinos. ACESA, now being discussed in Congress will create new economic opportunities for our community through green jobs and a new green economy.” said Antonio Gonzalez, WCVI President.

Preliminary survey data shows 58% of voters support the ACESA. An overwhelming 87% of voters want to see Texas increase its production and use of renewable energy and 95% want to see the state become more energy efficient. And finally, 55% of voters believe green house gases can be reduced while creating economic opportunities and jobs at the same time.

Added Gonzalez, “The work of Tejanos for a Better Future is very timely with the climate change legislation moving through the US House of Representatives this week. This bill is vital to our planet and to Latinos, and we have high expectations that Congressmen Gonzalez and Green will support a strong bill that protects the environment and our community.”

WCVI plans to hold additional Climate Change briefings in Arizona, California and Texas. For more information, call 210-922-3118 or visit www.wcvi.org.

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Over the weekend we had a little more time to look over the language in the American Clean Energy and Security Act, and have found it wanting.  Check out this thoughtful statement from our Energy Program Director for the skinny on the bill and what went wrong:

Statement of Tyson Slocum, Director of the Energy Program at Public Citizen

The climate change legislation that will be debated this week is a huge disappointment. Not only will it prove a boon to energy industries, but it won’t protect consumers and may very well not even curb global warming. The first draft, penned months ago, was on track to accomplish these goals, and we applauded it as a great start. Since then, however, lawmakers have met in secret with representatives of the coal and oil industries and facilitated industry efforts to gut the bill.

The Obama administration got it right when officials released a budget that would auction 100 percent of pollution allowances. As long as pollution allowances are auctioned, the government will have the revenue necessary to mitigate energy price increases through rebates while having money to invest in the sustainable energy infrastructure we need to end our reliance on fossil fuels.

This was further reinforced by President Obama’s selection for the new chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Jon Wellinghoff, who said that “we may not need any” new nuclear or coal power plants because we have yet to harness the capacity of renewables and energy efficiency.

But the House of Representatives has not followed the administration’s lead.

When Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) released a draft climate bill in March, we praised it as a great first step but noted that it needed to be improved during the committee mark-up process.

But instead of a transparent process involving debate and voted-upon amendments, committee leadership conducted closed-door negotiations with polluters. The result: The bill was radically altered to accommodate the financial interests of big energy corporations while giving nothing new for the environment or for working families. This is hardly the transformation this country needs to jump-start its economy and curb climate change. This is more of the same old wait-and-see, special-interest-bailout approach that has gripped Washington for ages. (more…)

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shockingNEWSFLASH!  Carbon Dioxide emissions may represent a threat to public health or welfare.

Shocking, I know.  But what is old news to the rest of us, released in the form of a proposed endangerment finding by the EPA, is actually a really big deal.  Environmentalists and concerned citizens alike have been waiting years for this announcement.  In 2007, as a result of the landmark Supreme Court case Massachusetts v. EPA, the court ordered the EPA administrator to determine if greenhouse gas emissions could “cause or contribute to air pollution which may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare.”  The Bush Administration delayed reacting to this order, but Friday EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson signed a proposed endangerment finding which identified six global warming gasses that pose a threat to human health.

The finding will now enter a 60-day comment period, and have no immediate regulatory effect, but could give the EPA power to regulate CO2 under the Clean Air Act.

According to the EPA’s official statement,

Before taking any steps to reduce greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, EPA would conduct an appropriate process and consider stakeholder input. Notwithstanding this required regulatory process, both President Obama and Administrator Jackson have repeatedly indicated their preference for comprehensive legislation to address this issue and create the framework for a clean energy economy.

After years of global warming being the elephant in the room that the government would not address, the EPA’s proposed finding finally gives the agency the ability to take action on climate change — though as stated, everyone would rather Congress take care of business.  Hopefully, this finding will light a fire under cap-and-trade negotiations.

Its kind of like when my mother used threaten that she’d clean my room herself if I didn’t get cracking — which I knew meant she would just come in with a trash bag and clear everything out.  The EPA could straight up regulate carbon dioxide — but few people would really be happy with the result, most environmentalists included.  By creating new policy, Congress is simply better equipped to deal with our greenhouse gas emissions than the EPA.

So sorry Congress — no more reading the comics you found with the dust bunnies under the bed.  Go clean up, or Mom’s going to start vacuuming.

But don’t take my word for it.  Andy Wilson (Citizen Andy, if you will), Global Warming Program Director here at the Texas Office, wrote a statement on how this finding relates to the big picture, and Texas specifically.  Check it out!

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