Posts Tagged ‘las brisas coal plant’

Las Brisas Energy Center, a proposed pet coke power plant, is still in the midst of a protracted permitting process which most recently has taken the form of a state hearing. Opponents have claimed that projected pollution from the proposed plant has been under-estimated by engineers. Testimony ended in the hearing last Thursday, and closing statements have been ordered by January 22. At this time, the two judges, Craig Bennett and Tommy Broyles, will have 60 days to issue a recommendation to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), which will ultimately make the final decision. The hearing ended with testimony from Joseph Kupper, an engineer, who was not able to confirm his calculations concerning the particulate matter projected to come from the plant.

Las Brisas might be seen as one battle in the conflict which has been escalating between the EPA and the current Texas air permitting program.

Dr Al Armendariz was scheduled to give testimony in this hearing on November 6th; however, he did not appear due to his recent appointment as Regional EPA Administrator. Dr Armendariz was appointed by Lisa Jackson just the day before. He most recently was a faculty member at Southern Methodist University in the Environmental/Civil Engineering department and has been an outspoken critic of past EPA oversight in Texas.

Dr Al Armendariz

Now, as concerned citizens, Dr Armendariz claims we should worry that “Texas has allowed big utilities and industry to operate any way they want to for decades.” We hope for the best as Dr Armendariz takes on this job with the EPA, which he is already getting on with – some say that by the end of the month the EPA will most likely “declare that Texas’ air permitting program lacks adequate public participation and transparency.”

The EPA sees three areas in which Texas fails to meet standards:

1) Public participation and transparency, which do not adhere to Clean Air Act regulations.

2) Flexible air permits given to many industrial operations (including the Fayette power plant).

3) Greenhouse gas emissions, recently brought into regulation under the Clean Air Act.

So best of luck, Dr Armendariz. If we let the numbers, facts and models speak for themselves, Texas could certainly be a cleaner place for all.

J Baker


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

Read Full Post »

AUSTIN – Public Citizen Texas will be honoring the recipients of this year’s Texas Outstanding Public Service (TOPS) Awards at the organization’s 25th anniversary dinner today. The awardees are local visionaries, recognized experts and celebrated advocates who have aided in the effort to help Texas realize a more environmentally conscious and sustainable energy future.

Those receiving the TOPS Awards were chosen by Tom “Smitty” Smith, director of Public Citizen Texas, and his staff based on their accomplishments and contributions to the overall health, safety and democracy of all Texans. This year’s lineup of winners includes two journalists, three legislators, two activists, a whistleblower, a legislative aid and a man whose lifetime of achievement merits the finest award of all.

Winners of this year’s awards include Roger Duncan, general manager of Austin Energy, Austin American-Statesman reporter Claudia Grisales, San Antonio Current reporter Greg Harman, state Reps. Dave Swinford and Rafael Anchia, citizen activists Gerry Sansing and Dr. Wes Stafford, state Sen. Wendy Davis, whistleblower Glenn Lewis and state legislative staffer Doug Lewin.

Duncan will receive this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Duncan is a true visionary who has not only blueprinted the greening of the Austin City Council but also of the city’s public utility. He successfully transformed Austin Energy and set standards for the rest of the nation. He has been a major player in the fight for green issues for more than three decades – starting with his journey as a student activist in the 1970s, serving two terms as a member of the Austin City Council in the 1980s and eventually leading the city’s environmental department for nine years as the assistant director. Duncan is considered the architect of several of Austin’s nationally acclaimed energy efficiency and renewable energy programs, including GreenChoice and the Green Building Program. Furthermore, under Duncan’s leadership, Austin Energy adopted ambitious goals to bring more solar energy to Austin, committing to the development of major solar generating capacity. Duncan was also one of a few people to realize early on that the city of Austin had the potential to reduce urban air pollution by using plug-in hybrids. He assembled a coalition of potential buyers of plug-ins in the country and implemented a program at Austin Energy that offered an incentive package for such hybrids. Although he has announced his planned retirement for next year, it will not be surprising to see him in some sort of leadership role in the city in the near future.

In a quote from Duncan published in the Austin Chronicle last month, he said, “Today, it is time for me to return to my original role as an involved citizen of Austin.” Public Citizen Texas welcomes him as such (more…)

Read Full Post »