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Posts Tagged ‘earth day’

Just before Earth Day, the House of Representatives once again demonstrated its commitment to protecting the fossil fuel industries that fund many of the members campaigns instead of protecting the people of our state from the devastating impacts of climate change by passing HB 788. The bill requires the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to permit greenhouse gas emissions, which cause climate change, but would remove the agency’s authority to limit such emissions.

You might wonder “what’s the point?”  The point is to take control of greenhouse gas permitting for Texas facilities from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and place it in the hands of our state environmental agency – which has a much cozier relationship with industry.  While EPA may ultimately prefer that states take responsibility for such permitting, we hope they wouldn’t support such a ineffective system as is proposed in HB 788.

Adding insult to injury, the author of the bill, Representative Wayne Smith, took advantage of the opportunity to spread misinformation.  Smith stated, “…the terms ‘climate change’ and ‘global warming’ are based on an unfounded science,” claiming this language was struck to remove the politics from the bill.  His remarks epitomizes a legislature that continues to threaten the health and safety of the people it should protect through weakened environmental regulations.

In fact, removing language which has been in Texas’ Health and Safety Code for 22 years which gives TCEQ the authority to limit greenhouse gases put the politics in the bill and took the science out of it.  Governor Rick Perry is an avid climate change denier and may have influenced the drafting of HB 788.

This type of misinformation does a disservice to Texas citizens who must endure the harmful impacts of climate change, such as drought, wildfires, sea-level rise and more volatile weather patterns. These changes have already cost our state billions of dollars and numerous lives.  Climate change is happening now and given the big jump in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions last year, we’re probably in for more harmful impacts than many predicted just a few years ago.

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This graph compares increasing CO2 levels (dark line) to increasing average global temperature over the last century (blue and red bars).

Although our efforts to stop or amend HB 788 in the Texas House were unsuccessful and it was disheartening to hear Representative Smith’s comments, Earth Day brought a refocusing on facts.

The Committee on International Trade and Intergovernmental Affairs held a hearing on Global Climate Change and Trade.  Attendance was sparse in the audience, but a stellar line-up of scientists, delegates, and business representatives took the witness stand to testify on the fact of climate change.

HB788 was mentioned in anonymous fashion as a bad greenhouse gas bill on several occasions.  But, the most glaring comments were directed at Texas’ lack of policy to address climate change.  Cynthia Connor, the Resource Security Policy Adviser for the British Consulate General in Houston spoke in serious tones.  Her message was that Texas has a responsibility to adopt climate change policies to protect $20 billion in Texas investments by UK-owned business, which are responsible for  70,000 jobs.

Almost all of the witnesses addressed Texas’ policy of climate change denial.  To their credit, most of the Representatives on the committee asked questions to confirm the scientific findings, how climate change affects Texas, and how our climate change policies compare to the rest of the modernized world.  The general consensus is that Texas lags far behind the rest of the world.  Texas fails to acknowledge the potential harms of climate change and ignores its responsibility to lead the nation in ethical energy policies as the top producer of oil and natural gas.

While these weren’t messages of hope, at least they were based in scientific facts and observations.  At least for a brief time, science was recognized in our state capitol.

We must each do what we can to reduce our personal impact and we must convince our elected officials that the time for climate change denial is over.

HB 788 is now being considered in the Texas Senate.

Email your Texas state senator to oppose HB 788 and protect Texas’ climate, economy and people.

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Earthday is coming up and we’d like to share two ways to support Public Citizen’s Texas office through EarthShare programs!

H-E-B Tear Pad Campaign

Earthshare HEB CampaignFor those who are able to give to EarthShare through your work place charitable giving campaign, we thank you.  For those who do not have that option, Public Citizen is pleased to announce that H-E-B has selected EarthShare of Texas to be the April beneficiary for its in-store coupon promotion for the fifth year in a row. As an EarthShare partner, Public Citizen will benefit from this promotion as well!

Whenever you shop at H-E-B from now until May 4, grab one of the tear-off coupons at the register to add $1, $3, or $5 to your total bill. Those extra dollars go to EarthShare, and at the end of the campaign, BikeTexas will get a portion of EarthShare’s total proceeds for the month. You can join in at any H-E-B in Texas. Support bicycle advocacy while you pick up your lettuce!

Reliant EcoShare Program

Reliant Energy customers also contribute to the EarthShare campaign making a donation every time a Texas customer purchases a carbon offset. All the Earthshare programs receives a portion of those donations.  If you live in a competitive electric service area that Reliant serves and are a customer, consider making Earthday year round by participating in their carbon offset program.

Public Ctizen is happy to be partnered with many organizations across this state who support making Texas a leader in clean, sustainable energy.  Thank you for supporting Public Citizen!

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YeeeeeeeeeeeeeeHaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

Today is a great day. Not only is this the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, but Austin City Council just gave every Texan  a reason to celebrate: Mayor Lee Leffingwell and City Council passed the Austin Energy Generation Plan!

After two years of hard work, enormous inclusive cooperation and citizen participation, the council unanimously approved the proposed Austin Energy Resource, Generation, and Climate Protection Plan.

City hall attendants saw rigorous public approval–and some misguided contention–of the plan’s affordability and the process’ public participation during the public discussion. Council broke for citizen communications and an executive session before returning to approve the proposal.

Mayor Leffingwell spoke strongly in favor of the bill for both its environmental and economic responsibility, saying that global climate change will be the defining challenge of our era. Although it is a global problem, he said, Austin has a responsibility to do its part because “the sum of local policy is global policy.”

I caught up with Public Citizen’s David Power, Ryan Rittenhouse and Matt Johnson outside along with Sierra Club’s Cyrus Reed celebrating the fruition of their tireless efforts.

Matt would like to thank all the members and supporters of the Clean Energy for Austin coalition for their hard work and dedication.

Congratulations! Go and celebrate Earth Day with jubilation!

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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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PUBLIC CITIZEN’s TEXAS OFFICE is a

Public Citizen is an Earthshare of Texas MemberApril is Earthday, give at HEB to Earthshare

Celebrating Earthday in April, look for this tearpad at HEBs and give to Public Citizen’s Texas office through Earthshare

Public Citizen’s Texas office is pleased to announce that H-E-B has selected EarthShare of Texas to be the beneficiary of its in-store coupon promotion for April, in recognition of Earth Day. This means that customers can tear off and add check-out coupons worth $1, $3, or $5 to their total bill.

In November, H-E-B’s San Antonio region stores will feature EarthShare of Texas — giving H-E-B’s San Antonio customers the opportunity to support environmental work in the San Antonio area.

Look for the EarthShare of Texas display and tear-off coupons at the check-out stands in your local H-E-B and Central Market stores beginning in late March through April.  Help support Public Citizen, EarthShare of Texas and the Texas environment!

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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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Longhorns and Aggies to create “green funds” that may soon be emulated statewide

Austin, TX – Progressives in America have been stunned over the last year as President Obama’s agenda has repeatedly faltered and the far-right Tea Party has emerged as a dominant force in public policy discussions. Given the failure to make progress on major national issues, perhaps it should come as no surprise that some progressives have turned to local solutions.

A shining example comes from the Lone Star State which may soon become the leading state when it comes to “green funds” on college campuses. Last week Texas’s two biggest rival colleges, Texas A&M and UT Austin, both passed student referendums in favor of raising fees to pay for environmental services on campus.

On Wednesday Longhorn students approved a $5 per semester fee hike, and on Thursday Aggie students followed suit with a $3 fee of their own. (more…)

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Original post found at the ReEnergize Texas blog, courtesy of Trevor Lovell:

At a hearing of the Texas Senate Committee on Higher Education today SB 2182, known as the green fee bill, “was reported favorably to the Calendars Committee by unanimous vote, clearing another hurdle on its way to becoming law.

Only two weeks ago the bill was looking badly wounded after staff working for Higher Education Committee Chairwoman Zaffirini (D-Laredo) noted “philosphical concerns” with the bill’s statewide approach to approving environmental service fees, prompting bill author Sen. Eliot Shapleigh (D-El Paso) to pull the bill from a scheduled hearing. In response and virtually overnight, ReEnergize Texas mobilized an Earth Week campaign, generating constituent phone calls from El Paso, Austin, San Antonio, College Station, and elsewhere throughout the state.

Aggie Adrienne Jones (seen here talking to US Rep. Lloyd Doggett) sent a letter supporting SB 2182

Aggie Adrienne Jones (seen here talking to US Rep. Lloyd Doggett) sent a letter supporting SB 2182

Walking into the Senate Higher Education Committee office on Earth Day, ReEnergize Texas Director Trevor Lovell was greeted by staff holding ironic smiles and saying “Our phones have been ringing off the hook… you wouldn’t have anything to do with that, would you?”
Adrienne Jones, seen here talking to US Congressman Lloyd Doggett, sent a letter supportin SB 2182

Aggie Adrienne Jones (seen here talking to US Rep. Lloyd Doggett) sent a letter supporting SB 2182.

By the following Monday SB 2182 had been set for a Wednesday hearing. Students from UT Pan America, South Texas College, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, and UT Austin wrote letters to the members of the committee, asking them to support the bill. (more…)

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I’m going to cross-post the following article from the Texas Observer’s Floor Pass blog whole hog, because it is just that good.  Look for Smitty’s quote in bold, and hold on to your hat :)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009
The Chosen Ones

posted by Susan Peterson at 03:12 PM

There’s a lot to celebrate this Earth Day when it comes to the Texas Legislature. Republicans in both chambers are carrying environmental legislation – if for no other reason than to stick it to the feds before the feds, under President Obama and a Democratic Congress, begin regulating the environment themselves. And Speaker Joe Straus has been a boon to environmental bills, as well, since he’s actually letting the legislators run the show in the House, unlike his predecessor.

The upshot? More good environmental bills and fewer bad ones.

Luke Metzger, director of Environment Texas, says there are just two main bad bills this session. Both would both speed up the permitting process for power plants. Rep. Dan Flynn’s HB 2721, which is being heard today in Environmental Regulation, would speed it up for nuclear plants. The other bad bill, Rep. Randy Weber’s HB 4012, would fast-track permitting for coal power plants.

And I know it’s unlike us to report good news, but Tom “Smitty” Smith, director of Public Citizen in Texas, says he is “suffering from a crisis of abundance” when it comes to all the worthwhile environmental bills this session.

“There are more good bills in the lege session than I can keep up with,” Smitty says. “It is reminiscent of the 1991 legislative session when Ann Richards was elected and there was a wave of reform. This is the best session I’ve had in 18 years.”

Hot damn!

But which of these good bills actually have a chance? Read about them after the jump.

(more…)

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earthdayFor your Earth Day enjoyment, Public Citizen, Sierra Club, and Environmental Defense have written a joint Op-Ed that has been published in both the Austin American Statesman & the Houston Chronicle.  So on this day of celebration, Let’s Begin a Better Future Now and Enact Energy Laws to Clear Air, Create Jobs!

Check it out:

Texas citizens get it.

More of us than ever are mindful of switching off lights, weatherizing our homes and doing all that we can to save energy. State legislators can get it too. This session, they have an opportunity and responsibility to save us even more money on our electricity bills, create thousands of green jobs and reduce pollution across the state. Our representatives now have less than six weeks to pass the best of nearly 100 bills that have been introduced on clean power and green jobs. These energy efficiency and renewable energy bills set the stage for rebuilding, repowering and renewing our state’s economy during tough times. They will build a sustainable future for Texas.

The energy efficiency bills contain plans for helping Texas families by creating jobs while reducing consumption of electricity in our homes and buildings. When our homes and buildings are well-insulated and our appliances more efficient, we don’t need to burn wasteful and damaging amounts of dirty fossil fuels for electricity.

An additional benefit to creating Texas’ new clean energy economy is that we can clean up our air and address climate change at the same time. As we provide new jobs installing clean energy technologies, we can decrease the public health risks and costs associated with the impacts of burning coal. (more…)

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Happy Monday everybody!  Check out the latest from our friends at Alliance for a Clean Texas.  Original post can be found here.

earthdayhouston1This week, ACT is happy to bring reports from two organizations doing great work on behalf of their local communities. In Houston, the Galveston-Houston Association for Smog Prevention (GHASP) is presenting Houston Earth Day – the City of Houston’s official Earth Day celebration – this Saturday, April 11th. This FREE day-long festival focuses on green-living and features hands-on activities for everyone. There will be an Earth Zone (highlighting air, land, water and renewable energy), an Environmental Education Zone, Kids Energy Zone, and Farmers’ Market. Additional information about Houston Earth Day and Mothers for Clean Air’s Earth Day 5k is available here.

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The Hill Country Alliance reports that they support HB 3265 which will be heard in House County Affairs on Monday April 6. This bill represents the culmination of 18 months of collaboration between 15 rural Hill Country counties; it provides this sensitive area with a set of tools to handle growth – particularly the stress placed on water resources.

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