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Posts Tagged ‘SEED Coalition’

SAN ANTONIO – The newly formed Re-Energize San Antonio Coalition called on CPS Energy to meet a set of conditions before following through with an October rate hike.

Describing the hike as an increase that will “unfairly burden residential taxpayers,” coalition members called on CPS to take steps to reduce pollution, waste and costs for consumers.

The coalition presented its demands in a petition handed off to the utility during the Monday, Sept. 9 CPS Rate Case Input Session held at the TriPoint Grantham Center.

“We oppose the rate hike because it promotes unsustainable growth, driven by dirty energy, on the shoulders of the poor and working class folks who already pay the most for energy costs relative to income and quality of housing stock,” said Dr. Marisol Cortez, scholar-in-residence at the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center.
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The newly formed Re-Energize San Antonio Coalition put its opposition to CPS’s proposed rate hike on the record during a Sept. 9 citizen’s input meeting. Coalition representatives presented the utility with a plan of action that they want addressed before an increase goes into effect. Here’s the petition.

PETITION FOR CPS ACTIONS PRIOR TO PROPOSED RATE INCREASE

Submitted to CPS Energy during the CPS Rate Case Input Session, Monday, Sept. 9, 2013.
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The democratic governance of Austin Energy has been preserved thanks to all the citizens who have turned out and did so again last night.

It was a late night at City Hall yesterday. By the time many of us testified it was after midnight, but our efforts and those of our partners — the SEED Coalition, Texas Campaign for the Environment, other advocates and concerned Austin residents — made the difference.

The City Council paid attention to your emails and comments.

Recognizing good governance will help us ensure that our elected officials continue to be responsive to us in the future.
Instead of handing governing responsibility of Austin Energy to an unelected board, the City Council created a committee on Austin Energy to dedicate more time to the important issues facing our utility. All members of the City Council will serve on the new committee.

The City Council did exactly what we wanted by maintaining democratic control of Austin Energy and dedicating more time to our most important city asset.
Of course, we’ll continue to monitor the discussions of the new City Council Committee on Austin Energy and we’ll let you know when we need your help again to protect democracy, clean energy, fair rates and funding for our city services.

Help us show our appreciation — email City Council members and thank them.

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Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell just postponed a major agenda item (#15), regarding an un-elected board taking over Austin Energy. Numerous citizens were planning to attend the council meeting tonight to express  concerns, and had gone out of their way to arrange their schedules to be there. The mayor completely removed the issue from discussion, not just from a council vote.

The disregard for citizens’ input and time is appalling. Perhaps the mayor’s move is simply a response to citizens having organized more effectively than special interest groups, such as CCARE, who haven’t been able to mobilize support for changing the governance of Austin Energy.

The ordinance may not have been ready for a vote tonight, but the mayor should have left the item open for discussion for the large number of citizens who have set time aside to be present tonight.

We hope that all the engaged citizens that planned on attending the city council meeting tonight will come to the meeting on May 23 and show the Mayor that the public won’t be silenced.

Please contact us with any questions on this issue:

Kaiba White, Public Citizen, [email protected], 607-339-9854 
Karen Hadden, SEED Coalition, [email protected]alition.org, 512-797-8481 

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Yesterday, Clean Energy Works for Texas – a coalition consisting of Public Citizen, Sierra Club, Texas BlueGreen Apollo Alliance, Progress Texas, Clean Water Action, Environment Texas, North Texas Renewable Energy Group, North Texas Renewable Energy Inc., SEED Coalition, Solar Austin, Solar San Antonio, Texas Campaign for the Environment and  Texas Pecan Alliance – filed a petition with the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC) asking for a rule-making to implement the non-wind renewable portfolio standard (RPS).

A law passed by the Texas Legislature in 2005 established that at least 500 megawatts (MW) of the electricity used in Texas would come from renewable energy sources other than wind by 2015.  The PUC, however, has failed to establish rules to ensure that this goal is reached.  Clean Energy Works for Texas calls on the PUC to fulfill its statutory duty and create rules to ensure that the goal is reached.  The petition also proposes and expansion of that goal to 3,000 MW by 2025.

The non-wind RPS would provide a level of certainty for investors considering Texas for clean energy projects.  While the wind industry has thrived in Texas, thanks, at least in part, to the RPS, other renewable energy industries have lagged behind.  Implementation of the non-wind RPS would send a signal to investors that Texas is open for business.   At at time when nearly a million Texans are looking for work, developing 21st century industries here in Texas should be a priority.

Texas has immense solar resources, as well as substantial geothermal resources that, if developed, could be providing the State with additional electricity that it needs.  Electricity market regulators and policy-makers have had numerous discussions about electricity generation shortages over the past year.  The petition filed by Clean Energy Works for Texas offers a solution – and it’s one that can be expanded upon in the coming years.

Please visit www.CleanEnergyWorksForTexas.org to learn more and send an email to to the PUC in support of the non-wind RPS.

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An Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) will hear oral argument on June 27, via teleconference, on the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development [SEED] Coalition’s request to participate in the South Texas Project operating reactor license renewal proceeding. The ASLB is the independent body within the NRC that presides over hearings where the public can challenge proposed licensing and enforcement actions.

Oral arguments will begin at 10 a.m. EDT on Monday, June 27, and the Board expects the session will conclude by noon. The session is open for public observation, but participation will be limited to the parties in the proceeding (the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development [SEED] Coalition, the applicant – South Texas Project Nuclear Operating Company [STPNOC] – and NRC staff).

Members of the public interested in listening to the oral arguments should contact ASLB staffer Jonathan Eser (301-415-5880 or [email protected]) for the telephone number and passcode.

NOTE: STPNOC submitted an application Oct. 28, 2010, to renew the licenses for both South Texas Project reactors near Bay City, Texas. The NRC’s environmental and safety evaluations of the application are underway. The current license for South Texas Project Unit 1 expires Aug. 20, 2027, and the license for Unit 2 expires Dec. 15, 2028. Documents related to the South Texas Project license renewal application are available on the NRC website.

The ASLB is considering the SEED Coalition’s petition to intervene in the proceeding, including the group’s objections, or contentions, against STPNOC’s application. The ASLB will hear oral argument on several aspects of the petition. Documents pertaining to the ASLB proceeding are available in the agency’s electronic hearing docket. More information about the ASLB is available on the NRC website.

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If you haven’t already pre-registered to celebrate the holidays at the 3rd Annual Austin Green Holiday Party, do so soon.  It is coming up soon and this year it is hosted by 10 great organizations.

Fiesta Gardens  (2100 Jesse E. Segovia St., Austin, TX 78702)
Thursday, December 16th, 2010 from 5:30pm-9:30pm

Registration:  Pre-Registration ONLY for this Event (No Cash Accepted at Door)

Network and learn about the hosting organizations and come together for a unified 2011.  Celebrate the holidays with us and enjoy music, great food, beer, wine and other beverages, as well as holiday cheer…

Live Music by: Austin Eco-Musicians (Reed Sternberg, Bill Oliver, Frank Meyer and More!) with Tribal Nation, the Austin reggae band later in the evening.

FoodBarr Mansion (Please help support our event sponsor and friend to the environmental community, the Barr Mansion.  They are catering this event, even as their own facility is being rebuilt after the fire.)

  • Blue Cheese and Winter Squash Sandwich
  • Chicken and Pepperoni Sandwich
  • Sundried Tomato White Bean Dip with Crostini
  • Basil Hummus and Cracker Shards
  • Local Organic Farm Salad Station with assorted dressings

Beverages: Beer, Wine, Sodas, Teas and water will be provided by the following sponsors:

The Co-Hosts: Texas Green NetworkPublic Citizen • SEED Coalition • Sierra ClubDesign Build Live • Austin EcoNetwork • Solar Austin • NetImpact •
Texas League of Conservation Voters • Austin Physicians for Social Responsibility

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Wanna do something green to start off Earth Week? You can do this from your desk. Quick and easy:

  1. Sign up as a supporter for Clean Energy for Austin.
  2. Tell a friend or co-worker to sign on too!*

Austin City Council will vote on this forward-thinking energy plan this week! Clean Energy for Austin is a coalition that exists to support council passing this plan. Learn more at www.cleanenergyforaustin.org.

Public Citizen, Sierra Club, Environment Texas, Environmental Defense Fund, SEED Coalition and others endorse this plan but we need your help! Spread the word, and look forward to more easy actions as the week unfolds.

*You’d totes get a ton of karma points if you got 5 people to sign on. You’ll also get a high-five from me, which you can claim on Thursday at City Hall.

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An Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) panel will hear oral argument regarding a hearing in the South Texas Project Combined License (COL) proceeding on April 7 in Bay City, Texas. The ASLB is the independent body within the NRC that presides over hearings where the public can challenge proposed licensing and enforcement actions. (more…)

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Agency Is Refusing to Adhere to an Order to Release Document That Would Help Determine Safety of New Nuclear Reactors

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) should stop balking and provide a critical document that would reveal how the owners of a Texas nuclear plant expansion project plan to deal with a fire or explosion, three public interest groups told the commission late last week.

Three administrative judges of the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board have ordered the agency to provide at least a redacted version, but NRC staffers have refused. The NRC’s lack of transparency could impact the ability to get adequate safety-related information not only about the South Texas Project (STP) but about other proposed reactors around the country as well.

Late Friday, the groups – the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition, Public Citizen and the South Texas Association for Responsible Energy – filed a brief with the NRC. It noted that the NRC staff’s refusal to provide the information violated President Barack Obama’s new transparency policy. The groups also said the NRC is acting arbitrarily and trying to shut the public out of NRC proceedings.

“After the Sept. 11 attacks, Congress required new fire and safety standards for all new plants and the NRC developed rules to reflect this. Now, the NRC is trying to do its work behind closed doors, and its staffers are literally making up how to handle information as they go along, keeping as much secret as possible,” said Karen Hadden, executive director of the SEED Coalition. “Without disclosure of this information, we can’t tell how well the NRC is doing in protecting the public.” (more…)

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Earlier this week the Environmental Protection Agency held a public hearing on a newly proposed rule to strengthen federal ozone standards. A coalition of environmental and public health advocates called Clean Air Texas rallied in support of the new rule, which would improve air quality across the state and make our communities healthier.  Over a hundred citizens presented their comments to the EPA in support of the new, stronger rule — more than the EPA has seen at a public hearing in years.  Public Citizen was on hand to give comments and capture the stories of concerned citizens that came to the hearing, check out the videos below to hear what folks had to say!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vfiNk_19tgk]

Also check out this video of the press conference to hear what matters most about the ozone rule from activists with Kids for Clean Air, Public Citizen, the American Lung Association, Health Professionals for Clean Air, Sierra Club,  and the Galveston-Houston Alliance for Smog Prevention. The lead image is acting a little funny, but the video will still show up, I promise

[vimeo 9206598]

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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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SEED Coalition opposes any radioactive waste dumping in Texas, but at minimum seeks to prevent our state from receiving waste from more than just the two Compact States and becoming the nation’s radioactive waste dump. With support from Public Citizen, Environment Texas and Nuclear Information and Resource Service and other groups, they will submit comments today to the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission. The Proposed Import/Export Rule under consideration may open the door for Texas to becoming the nation’s nuclear dumping ground and we’re making recommendations to strengthen the rule and protect public health as safety .

State Rep. Lon Burnam (District 90, Ft. Worth) will ask a series of questions of the Compact Commissioners, and try to get answers as to why they are considering the weak and risky approach taken by the draft rule under consideration.

Some of SEED Coalition’s comments can be summarized as follows:

  • The site should be limited to radioactive waste from Texas and Vermont, and have volume and radioactivity caps that match the license for the facility.
  • Waste from Texas and Vermont would more than fill up the facility, and no Out of Compact Waste should be imported.
  • The proposed import/ export rule needs to be strengthened and deemed a Major Environmental rule, so that more careful analysis can be done.
  • Radionuclides must be carefully tracked and monitored. The public has a right to know what is shipped to the site and the level of radioactivity in curies.
  • The public should be informed as to health risks from various radionuclides and meetings held in accord with the Open Meetings Act

The Compact Commission meets today beginning at 9 AM in Austin, Texas in the State Capitol Auditorium, E1.004, 1400 North Congress.

Visit www.NukeFreeTexas.org to find SEED’s comments, Rep. Burnam’s questions, a NIRS factsheet and the memo by nuclear expert Dr. Arjun Makhijani.  Press release after the jump… (more…)

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*Update: Greg Harman at the San Antonio Current just published a fantastic and very thorough recap of the twisted nuclear saga. Check it out!

Here’s part 2 in this year’s first annual Year in Review: Top Texas Vox Stories of 2009 series. Part 1 is just a hop, skip and scroll down.

3. San Antonio Nuclear Debacle/Amores Nucleares Telenovela

This year has been a doozy for nuclear power, with the highlight of course being the San Antonio situation.  Over the last 12 months San Antonio has ridden a wild wave of cost estimates, community meetings, protests, scandals, and misinformation.  But I’m getting ahead of myself. Remember when…

Last January, CPS Energy committed to spend $60 million more on the proposed expansion of the South Texas Nuclear Project, a decision which at that point brings the city utility’s total expenditures on units 3 & 4 to $267 million. Not long after that, Austin City Council took a look at participating in the expansion project but said “No way, that’s much too risky of an investment for us.” San Antonio decided that something magical (but mysterious) was different for them, despite our prediction in late April that the proposed reactors could actually cost as much as $22 Billion.  Mum was CPS’ word on a cost estimate at that time, but by June they announced that $13 Billion was a good, round number. We worried at this point that CPS was being overly optimistic, ignoring the history of the South Texas Project and other nukes around the nation and independent reports, but those concerns largely fell on deaf ears.

Then over the summer, CPS Energy launched a massive public outreach campaign, with meetings in every district — but kind of botched it.  Despite activists’ protests that CPS’ cost numbers were innacurate, the utiltiy refused to release their information or back up numbers, and many San Antonio citizens left the community meetings feeling disenchanted with the process and suspicious of CPS.

As a rising tide of activists and concerned citizens grew, eventually they formed the coalition group Energía Mía and worked together to halt CPS’ spending for more nuclear reactors. The group launched a string of protests and press conferences highlighting the many flaws of nuclear power and the San Antonio deal in particular.  Everyone was all geared up for a big showdown the last week in October, but then the cowpie really hit the rotating bladed device (let’s call it a windmill). For the next part, I’m going to pull from a previous post where I likened the whole situation to a geeky, policy version of a telenovela.

Previously, on Amores Nucleares:

With just days before San Antonio City Council was to vote to approve $400 million in bonds for new nuclear reactors, it was leaked that the project could actually cost $4 Billion more than CPS had been saying all summer (according to Toshiba, who would actually be building the plant). The vote was postponed, there was an impromptu press conference, and it came out that CPS staff had actually known about the cost increase for more than a week — Oops! Oh, and the “leak” wasn’t that CPS came out with the truth, an aide from the mayor’s office only found out after confronting CPS about a rumor he’d heard. But how did the mayor’s office find out? NRG, CPS’ partner in the project was the “Deepthroat”, because they were going to announce Toshiba’s $17 Billion cost estimate at a shareholder’s meeting soon after the city council vote and thought, geez, that could look really bad for CPS! Meanwhile, CPS reps flew to Japan in a hurry to figure things out. Steve Bartley, interim GM for CPS, resigned. Furious that CPS had hidden the ugly truth from City Council, the mayor demanded the resignation of two key CPS board members, and got City Council to vote unanimously that they get the boot. Chairwoman Aurora Geis agreed to go, but Steve Hennigan said “No Way, Jose.” THEN CPS completed an internal audit of the whole shebang to figure out what-the-hell-happened, which found that Steve Bartley was to blame, and everyone else was only guilty of failure in their “responsibility of prompt disclosure”. Then it came out the project could be even more way way expensive than anyone thought (except of course Energia Mia, Public Citizen, SEED Coalition, the Center for American Progress, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, and analysts Arjun Makhijani, Clarence Johnson, Craig Severance, and Mark Cooper to name a few). And then those crazy cats all started suing each other.

So in the end, they told folks all summer long that the plant would cost $13 Billion, even though insiders knew since late June that it could very well be $4 Billion more. Latest update is that the plant could really cost $18.2 Billion! On December 31st, Toshiba provided CPS with another new estimate, which the utility will use to come up with their own new cost estimate mid-January. City council is slated to vote sometime after that, once and for all, on $400 million in bonds to continue the project.

But clearly, enough is enough. So if you live in San Antonio, tell City Council to stop throwing good money after bad, and to cut their losses before its too late. Tell them to vote “no” to nuclear bonds and start the year off fresh and free from the “ghost of nuclear projects past.”

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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.

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The San Antonio Nuclear Expansion Soap Opera plot thickens.  Today’s update brings the shocking news that South Texas Project Reactors 3 & 4 could actually cost, not $13 Billion, not even $17 Billion… but $18.2 Billion!

With all the trouble CPS has gotten into recently regarding transparency (a gentle term we’re using that translates roughly to “lying to the public and covering up bad news”), you’d think that they would’ve come forward and made this estimate public as soon as humanly possible.

But you’d be wrong.  Instead, they presented the numbers to their board in a closed session last week (read: NOT public, you’re not invited).  Sometime later, the San Antonio Express-News got wind of the update, “based on numbers provided by the South Texas Project Nuclear Operating Co”, and published the results.

When will CPS learn that they have got to be honest with the public, the mayor, and city council? They told folks all summer long that the plant would cost $13 Billion, even though insiders knew since late June that it could very well be $4 Billion more.  CPS has led a lengthy and sloppy cover-up campaign of STP and nuclear power’s “inconvenient truth” that culminated in resignations, an internal investigation, and several firings and demotions.

Am I going to fast for you? Did you miss a few episodes, and are confused that CPS’ prize project could so quickly fall to pieces? Let’s do a recap.

Previously, on Amores Nucleares:

With just days before San Antonio City Council was to vote to approve $400 million in bonds for new nuclear reactors, it was leaked that the project could actually cost $4 Billion more than CPS had been saying all summer (according to Toshiba, who would actually be building the plant).  The vote was postponed, there was an impromptu press conference, and it came out that CPS staff had actually known about the cost increase for more than a week — Oops! Oh, and the “leak” wasn’t that CPS came out with the truth, an aide from the mayor’s office only found out after confronting CPS about a rumor he’d heard. But how did the mayor’s office find out? NRG, CPS’ partner in the project was the “Deepthroat”, because they were going to announce Toshiba’s $17 Billion cost estimate at a shareholder’s meeting soon after the city council vote and thought, geez, that could look really bad for CPS! Meanwhile,  CPS reps flew to Japan in a hurry to figure things out.  Steve Bartley, interim GM for CPS, resigned.  Furious that CPS had hidden the ugly truth from City Council, the mayor demanded the resignation of two key CPS board members, and got City Council to vote unanimously that they get the boot.  Chairwoman Aurora Geis agreed to go, but Steve Hennigan said “No Way, Jose.” THEN CPS completed an internal audit of the whole shebang to figure out what-the-hell-happened, which found that Steve Bartley was to blame, and everyone else was only guilty of failure in their “responsibility of prompt disclosure”.  And then this week it came out the project could be even more way way expensive than anyone thought (except of course Energia Mia, Public Citizen, SEED Coalition, the Center for American Progress, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, and analysts Arjun Makhijani, Clarence Johnson, Craig Severance, and Mark Cooper to name a few).

That about brings us up to speed.

So what is next? December 31st, Toshiba should come out with a new, “official” cost estimate, which CPS will use to come up with their own cost estimate mid-January. City council is slated to vote January 15th, once and for all, on $400 million in bonds to continue the project.  But clearly, enough is enough.  Tell City Council to stop throwing good money after bad, and to cut their losses before its too late.  Tell them to vote “no” to nuclear bonds January 15th, and start the year off fresh and free from the “ghost of nuclear projects past.”

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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.

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The dramatic irony of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) decision this morning to grant the NRG Limestone Coal Plant an air permit (and therefore permission to begin construction on a third smokestack) is painful.  At the very moment that leaders from around the world are meeting to come to an international agreement to save the world from catastrophic global warming, at the very moment that residents of developing nations are begging for the continued existence of their land and way of life, Texas gives the green light to build another mercury-spewing, asthma-inducing, planet choking coal plant.

Not exactly what I was hoping to wake up to this morning.

This decision also comes just days after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) came out with its engangerment finding, which says that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases represent a significant threat to public health and welfare.  Earlier this year, the EPA also ruled that TCEQ has not been adhering to the Clean Air Act in its issuance of new air permits.  This is the first coal plant permit that TCEQ has issued since that warning (which TCEQ doesn’t seem to have taken to heart).  AND, according to Karen Hadden, executive director of SEED Coalition,

The TCEQ is not following federal law (Maximum Achievable Control Technology or MACT) in issuing this permit and a result, mercury emissions will be higher.

So many hearts to break, so little time. But of course there’s always a silver lining. Next legislative session, the TCEQ (and a whole host of other commissions) will undergo the Sunset Review process — and as Tom “Smitty” Smith, director of Public Citizen’s Texas Office mentions, that gives Texas a chance to reform the TCEQ permitting process:

This is just another example of why the Sunset Commission should take a good hard look at how TCEQ rubber stamps permits for coal plants in Texas.

In the meantime, keep your fingers crossed for progress in Copenhagen, and stay tuned at Texas Vox for more information on how you can help fight global warming and a 2nd Texas coal rush.

Full breakdown of the good (NRG has agreed to offset 50% of their emissions, though there’s nothing in their permit to hold them to that), the bad, and the ugly after the jump:

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