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Posts Tagged ‘texas observer’

In the evening following a day of rolling blackouts, the Texas Democracy Foundation, publishers of the Texas Observer, identified and introduced to the community a new generation of progressive leaders for Texas. 

We are proud to announce that our very own Andy Wilson and Trevor Lovell were named to be among this year’s Next Generation Leaders.

Andy Wilson

Andy Wilson

Trevor Lovell

Trevor Lovell

 

Click here to read the Texas Observer’s article.

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If I had a nickel every time we put out a statement saying something along the lines of “Governor Perry is blowing hot air about climate change”…I could probably only really buy a candy bar. Or a coke — a Mexican coke in a bottle, preferably, to be drunk as I eat a fried avocado taco on a Friday afternoon (mmm, thanks Perry).

But this week our dear Gov was at it again. Tuesday morning he joined Attorney General Greg Abbott and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples to announce a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency’s(EPA) endangerment finding for carbon dioxide. We had plenty to say about it, which has already been posted this week, but I think that I like the way Forrest Wilder over at the Texas Observer put it best:

Perry is up to his neck in pseudo-scientific gobbledygook and he’s bringing Attorney General Abbott and Ag Commissioner Todd Staples along with him. The (“frivolous“) lawsuit today is neither a legal nor scientific document. It is a political one: poorly-reasoned, poorly-sourced and containing enough tin-foil hat conspiracies to block a Mexican border blaster.

Check out his blog post for the nitty gritty on the legal brief (“filled with footnotes, giving the appearance that it’s been carefully researched. But on closer inspection many of the references are to rightwing blogs, “studies” by armchair climate analysts, and obscure anti-climate groups like the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition.”)

Luckily we heard about Perry’s press announcement with just enough time to sweep in and have the last word. Officing 3 blocks from the capitol does have its perks. Along with Sierra Club, we were able to stake out a good spot outside the Governor’s Press Room and hold an impromptu reaction press conference by the West Trashcan. With members of the press gathered around, Smitty (our director, of course!) and Eva Hernandez from Sierra Club gave statements crying foul on the Governor’s tomfoolery, and even issued a symbolic “citizen’s citation” to Perry for endangering the health of Texans and the climate. Perry didn’t come out to accept it himself, but did send a policy aide in his honor. Good thing too; we were worried we’d have to slip it under his locked and barred door (not exactly the climactic press moment we were looking for). Check out the video though, editing courtesy of our newest media intern Patrick! Don’t worry, you’ll get to meet him soon enough.

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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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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.

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no-new-coal1Yesterday morning we held a press conference to highlight the importance of the proposed coal moratorium bill, SB 126, sponsored by State Sen. Rodney Ellis, and its companion bill in the house, HB 4384, sponsored by Rep. Allen Vaught.

SB 126 , which went into committee late Tuesday night, would put a temporary moratorium on authorizations for new coal-fired power plants that do not capture and sequester their carbon emissions.  If all of Texas’ 12 proposed coal plants were built, they would emit an additional 77 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.  Top climate scientists, most notably James Hansen, have advocated for a coal moratorium as one of the top priorities to address climate change.

This legislation would also give Texas time to take a breath, see what federal carbon legislation will come down from Washington, and re-evaluate our energy plan.  We expect carbon emissions to be given a price as a result of a federal climate change bill, and this would make the energy from coal considerably more expensive.

Floor Pass, the Texas Observer’s legislative blog, reports:

Environmentalists support these bills, but some feel they could be stronger. Both bills grant exceptions to facilities that capture and sequester some of the carbon dioxide they produce. Vaught’s bill mandates that a minimum of at least 60 percent of the carbon dioxide must be captured and sequestered in order for the exemption to apply. Ellis’ bill does not specify the amount.

“We definitely would support 100 percent reduction of carbon dioxide,” says Karen Hadden, director of Sustainable Energy and Economic Development Coalition. “We should not be adding carbon dioxide to our air at this point in time. It’s too risky in terms of climate change. Companies can do it, and they should.”

Representatives from communities currently fighting coal plants were on hand to discuss how this legislation will protect their families from dangerous health effects such as asthma and increased autism rates and improve local air quality.  It was really moving to hear community members telling their own stories of how proposed coal plants would affect their lives.  If you’re interested in hearing their stories, check out the video feed from the press conference. Look for March 25, Press Conference: Senator Rodney Ellis.  That’s us!

The story got picked up in a couple other media outlets.  All the news that’s fit to link:

“Foes take power plant fight to Austin” by Denise Malan, Corpus Christi Caller Times

“Texas coal opponents call for a temporary moratorium on new plants” by Barbara Kessler, Green Right Now

And if you STILL WANT MORE, check out our press release after the jump.

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radiationsignI have been remiss in my duties as Blog Lady because I haven’t told you anything about the slated Andrews County nuclear waste dump.  Oh, you hadn’t heard?  TCEQ approved a “low-level” radioactive dump out in the lower panhandle.  There wasn’t a contested case hearing — and citizens of Eunice, New Mexico, the closest town to the dump, haven’t been able to officially voice their opposition because they don’t have standing under state law.  The dump is also only licensed for 15 years, after which all that toxic waste will be the responsibility of the state.  Aaaaand the dump will be accepting waste, not just from Texas, but from all over the United States.

Check out the press release below for more information.  If you happen to live near Odessa, be sure to swing by Big Daddy’s Grill and Bar at 6 PM —  D’Arrigo will be speaking there this evening.  She will be joined by Dr. Terry Burns, with the Permian Basin Sierra Club, who will discuss health concerns, Rose Gardner – a concerned citizen from Eunice, New Mexico, the city nearest the radioactive waste dump, and SEED Coalition Director, Karen Hadden.

For a truly beautiful article on this issue, be sure to read Forrest Wilder’s Waste Texas: Why Andrews County is so eager to get dumped on in the newest Texas Observer.  That boy can really write.

Vince Leibowitz over at Capitol Annex also has a really good post on the legislative history of the dump.

Radioactive Risks for West Texas

Odessa, Texas – Texas environmental organizations hosted speaker Diane D’Arrigo, Radioactive Waste Project Director for the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) at a press conference today. She discussed the risks posed to Texans living near the so-called “low-level” radioactive waste dump in Andrews County.

“Low-level radioactive waste could remain dangerous for hundreds of thousands to over a million years,” said D’Arrigo. “Texas’ waste dump in Andrews County calls for a private company to manage a low-level dump, but the company would only be licensed to operate it for 15 years. They could then renew their license or decide to close the dump and walk away, leaving a toxic mess to the state of Texas. This could also happen if the company just folds up and vanishes into the night.” (more…)

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choirThe Texas Observer just ran an article on the top ten issues the Texas Legislature should address this session. Anybody want to guess what number two was?

If you guessed climate change… you’ve probably been reading this blog.  And you’d be right!

The Observer expects for Texas leaders to more amenable to climate change action than they have been in years past. Their reasoning?

Congress and the Obama administration have signaled that major federal climate change legislation is in the works. The Obama package will give Texas a choice: lead or get left behind,” says state Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso. “Luddites need to move away and let leadership take the day.”

The article continues:

As the nation’s top emitter of carbon dioxide, Texas arguably has the most to lose and the most to gain from federal action, says Bea Moorehead, executive director of Texas Impact, an interfaith advocacy group. States that move sooner to cut their greenhouse-gas emissions will have an easier time adapting to a carbon-restrained world. Advocates like Moorehead want to build on the successes Texas has had with wind power and energy conservation by pushing incentives for the solar industry and expanding efficiency standards. Such measures, they say, will create jobs and cut air pollution while replacing sources of greenhouse gas.

I was particularly excited about this article because we’ve been singing the same tune in informational handouts to all your legislative members.

If you agree that this is the message your legislators need to hear, loud and clear… TELL THEM SO.  We can print out brochures and hand them to legislative staffers, and the Observer can print articles on what they think the legislature ought to be doing, but ultimately, politicians respond to what their constituents want.

This is a novel idea, I know.  You’re thinking; “But Sarah, I’ve been wanting politicians to pursue a whole host of progressive policies for years, and they haven’t happened.”

Well, have you every straight up asked?  Politicians aren’t mind readers, you know.  Sometimes we’ve got to count ourselves lucky if they are readers at all.  So if you want them to know what you want, you’ve got to tell them.  When you contact your legislators, they take it much more seriously than a small record of your personal opinion.  As few as five personal letters can key a legislator in that an issue is important.  Just ten letters can lead them to think they’ve got “constituent trouble” and cause them to support or vote against a particular bill.

Visit the website Who Represents Me? If you know your address, it will only take about 30 seconds to know who your legislators are as well.  Write them a letter.  Or pick up the phone and give them a call.  You probably won’t get to speak with your rep directly, but you can definitely ask for the staffer that works on energy and give them your two cents.  Make your voice be heard!

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