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Posts Tagged ‘Tennessee’

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has agreed to close 18 coal units over the next 6 years. This is a major victory in the battle for clean air, particularly in regards to TVA, who has been sued many times for their air pollution violations as well as being responsible for one of the worst environmental disasters in history: the TVA Kingston Coal Ash spill. Hopefully this signifies a shift overall throughout the country, and throughout the world, away from coal and towards an energy system based on renewables instead of fossil fuels.

My favorite quote so far comes from this Time article:

If there is a war on coal, environmental forces may have just won the Battle of Midway.

You can also read more about this accord at The New York Times.

For those of you around Texas and throughout the United States, take this to heart: we are winning the fight against coal and we will continue to win as long as we keep up the pressure. Our best thoughts go out to all the folks gathered at Power Shift 2011 (going on all weekend) – you all have something to celebrate tonight!

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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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TODAY is our National Coal Ash Day of Action -  please ask the White House to allow the US EPA to finally regulate coal ash as the hazardous waste it is. Currently, coal ash is less regulated than household trash!  This toxic waste stream has never been regulated and that must change, now.

1.  Please send an email to President Obama:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact

2.  Call the White House:
  • Comments: 202-456-1111 – leave a message
  • Switchboard: 202-456-1414 – talk to an operator
  • FAX: 202-456-2461

This toxic waste is often stored in wet, slurry impoundments  like this TVA one that failed just over a year ago in Tennessee. Such facilities post the risk of catastrophic failure – the TVA disaster was labeled one of the worst environmental disasters in history by the EPA. Toxic sludge can leech and runoff into nearby watersheds over the course of years, contaminating the ecosystem. The ash is also sometimes stored in dry landfills, as is often the case in Texas. While these landfills don’t pose the same catastrophic risk of slurry impoundments, they still contaminate the environment through leeching, runoff and by the wind blowing the toxic dust off the piles.

It is extremely important that Texans call in because Texas tops the list of states at risk from coal combustion waste. The coal industry is attempting to get dry-ash landfills exempted from new regulations – and most of the coal ash in Texas is stored in this fashion. It is the same, exact, toxic substances in both storage facilities, the only difference is whether or not you mix it with water. ALL coal ash waste MUST be regulated as the hazardous waste it is. (more…)

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rickperryEarlier this week, Governor Perry announced that he would, in fact, call back legislators for an extended special session.  What exactly this session will cover (voter ID? please no!) remains unclear, but the Governor has committed to addressing the “sunset safety net” bill that was left on the table.

The Houston Chronicle reports,

The governor had hoped to avoid a special session to keep intact the Texas Department of Transportation and the Texas Department of Insurance, as well as three others that were not renewed, but calling lawmakers back to the Capitol proved to be the only option.

The other agencies are the Texas Racing Commission, which regulates horse and dog tracks; the Office of Public Insurance Counsel, which represents the public in insurance rate cases; and the State Affordable Housing Corporation, which links low-to-moderate-income people with potential home purchase lenders.

The five agencies are set to go out of existence on Sept. 1, 2010, because the legislation reauthorizing them did not pass.

If the specter of having no department at all for transportation, insurance, or affordable housing is scary enough to call a special session, I wonder what other issues the Governor will decide are important enough to address in a special session.

Certainly of note is the specter of Texas losing its leadership role in creating jobs tied to clean energy.  According to a new study by Pew Charitable Group on the clean energy economy, Texas ranks 2nd in businesses (4,802) and jobs (55,646) tied to the sector.

This is an exciting piece of information, especially considering that the clean energy industry grew twice as fast as the rest of the economy over the last decade.  Furthermore, Pew cited our renewable energy policies as a critical aspect of the state’s wind power explosion.

This information makes it even more painful that we weren’t able to pass similar legislation to jump-start Texas’ solar economy.  Especially when as soon as the session ended with solar still on the table, Tennessee Senators started saying they would be happy to take the solar jobs Texas snubbed.

Senator Jim Kyle of Memphis was actually quoted as saying, “Legislators in Texas have yanked the welcome mat for an industry that could pay huge dividends for their economy.  To any company that had an eye on Texas, we say come on up to Tennessee.”

Salt, meet my wounds.  Not only has Texas missed out on a great economic opportunity, but now we’re going to be one-upped by Tennessee? Unacceptable.

But with a special session upcoming, Texas may have another chance to revisit that solar legislation — which, by the way, passed with bipartisan support.  Everyone was on board for solar, we just ran out of time to get the nuts and bolts right.  Tragic.

Senator Rodney Ellis of Houston recently announced that he would like for the special session to take up lost clean energy legislation.  In a statement earlier this week, he said

Texas became rich from fossil fuels, but we could easily lose our position as an energy leader because of fossilized thinking. We could create far more wealth and jobs from wind and solar energy, but only we aggressively pursue clean energy opportunities. Unfortunately, we missed a golden opportunity this session one the governor should address if he calls a special session.

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