Posts Tagged ‘Tom “Smitty” Smith’

This article written by Tom “Smitty” Smith, director of Public Citizen’s Texas office, appeared on the editorial page of the San Antonio Express-News on Sept. 2

The newest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, leaked to media earlier this week, is frightening and conclusive.

The panel of several hundred scientists, which won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, says the odds are at least 95 percent that humans are the principal cause of climate change. The panel predicts an increase of 5 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century and warns that a rise of that magnitude would cause “extreme heat waves, difficulty growing food and massive changes in plant and animal life, probably including   a wave of extinction,” according to the New York Times.

Yet U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chair of the Committee on Science and Technology, claims the science is uncertain about how much of the warming is caused by humans.

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Statement of Tom “Smitty” Smith:

We are shocked to hear the news that former Austin Energy and Pedernales Electric Cooperative General Manager Juan Garza has taken a job promoting nuclear power with New Jersey-based NRG Energy. While Garza rightfully acknowledges the danger climate change poses to Texas, nuclear power’s life cycle carbon footprint, exorbitant cost and extreme construction time belie the claim that nuclear is a solution to the climate crisis.

Numerous independent analyses warn that new nuclear reactors are too expensive, including consultants to the City of Austin who twice recommended the city pass on investment in the proposed South Texas Project units 3 and 4 due to high risk and cost. San Antonio’s CPS Energy has cut off investment in the project. Municipal utilities and electric cooperatives should take heed of the nuclear industry’s poor track record of delivering new reactors on time and on budget. The cost of these reactors has more than trebled in three years and when we built the first two units they were 6 times over budget and 8 years late. There are cheaper, cleaner, faster ways to meet new power needs in a carbon-constrained world.


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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This is Andy checking in from Vegas and Netroots Nation: sheesh, we leave Texas for a few days and the wheels start to come off the bus, don’t they?  Of course, our fearless and tireless leader, Tom “Smitty” Smith is there to handle everything, as he has done for the last 2 and a half decades.

This ran in today’s Texas Energy Report, but want to give all of our Public Citizen Texas members and followers a taste if you’re not a subscriber to the Energy Report.


An Op-Ed by Public Citizen’s Tom “Smitty” Smith.

The recently announced new general managers for Austin and San Antonio couldn’t be more different, and may have huge economic repercussions for both cities.

Austin has chosen Larry Weis, a “green” general manager from Turlock, California, Irrigation District. San Antonio’s CPS Energy has chosen Doyle N. Beneby Jr., from Exelon Corp. While Mr. Weis opposes nuclear power due to its costs, Mr. Beneby comes from a utility that has the largest nuclear assets in the country.

The process that each city underwent in selecting their new managers stands in stark contrast with one another. Austin announced its finalists over a month ago and invited the public to question the candidates.

CPS kept its candidates secret. In light of this lack of information, I am left to wonder what San Antonio’s fate will be given the recent track record of Exelon. Could Mr. Beneby signal the re-nuclearization of San Antonio or does he represent a future of renewable energy and green power?

Although San Antonio is still reeling from the trebling of cost of expanding the South Texas Nuclear Project, the CPS board has chosen someone from Exelon, which has tried and failed to buy NRG Energy, CPS’s partner in the nuclear expansion project, while simultaneously trying to develop another nuclear plant near Victoria.

While Exelon does have a mix of fossil fuel, hydroelectric, solar, landfill gas and wind generation sources, it only amounts to a meager 7 percent of its generation assets. The other 93 percent is nuclear.

Since the public was not privy to the public utility’s selection process, we are left to speculate what Beneby ‘s plans are. (more…)

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This week’s string of fossil fuel disasters–a Chinese coal carrier striking the Great Barrier Reef and dumping tons of oil into the Pacific Ocean, an oil pipeline spilling into the Louisiana Delta National Wildlife Refuge at the same time an Exxon Mobil barge was dredging off coast for oil exploration, and the tragic coal mine explosion in Montcoal, West Virginia–has left all of us saddened and wondering if the finger-wagging backlash will help spur the changes we work towards every day.

These events affirm the facts that environmental and human destruction are part of the costs of fossil fuel energy. If you cannot accept the resulting ecosystem destruction and loss of life, then you cannot accept fossil fuels as the dominant source of your energy.

I know: its frustrating, and changing our energy portfolio feels like its beyond our control. But, we can all make little changes in our own lives. And we won’t realize until years down the road how much those little energy conservation choices matter.

So, channel that sadness into resolve. Be the change you want to see.

At Public Citizen Texas, we hope that this little blog is a light. A light that shows you the good of the people of Texas. The strength of people working together to change energy policy and consumption habits.

We want to lead by example and empower you to do the same.

The week in review… (more…)

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Statement of Tom “Smitty” Smith, Director, Public Citizen’s Texas Office

Today Texans proved that there is a very high demand for energy-efficient products and services when they made reservations for $23 million worth of appliance rebates in just eight hours, using up rebates in the first day they became available. This goes to show how eager Texans are to trade in their tired, energy-sucking clunkers for newer, more efficient models. Not only will this trade-in program reduce consumers’ energy bills, it also will reduce smog and global warming pollution.

Given this incredible demand, we urge the Public Utility Commission (PUC) to establish another appliance rebate program like this as part of the expanded energy efficiency program the agency is currently considering. We’re sure that the numerous Texans who were unable to make a reservation are disappointed and would jump at a second chance at additional funds. In order to make the money go further, the size of the rebates probably should be reduced to assure that more people can participate.


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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“Tomorrow, when I wake, or think I do, what shall I say of today?” — Vladimir, Waiting for Godot

The Public Citizen Texas Week in Review (more…)

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Welcome to the debut of the Public Citizen Texas Week in Review. Every day our advocacy staff works to organize citizens and politicians in order to realize our progressive vision of a healthy environment, a sustainable economy, and a government of, by, and for the people.

This advocacy requires patience and discipline, resilience and fortitude, as our energy initiatives develop and progress across the weeks and months. You, our online readers, see this work culminate in blog posts, newspaper articles, press releases, protests, law suits, and policy proposals. What you don’t see is the day-to-day operations as our advocates set priorities, develop concrete goals, implement strategies, form coalitions, read, compile, and compose reports, and collaborate with other progressive energy activists. (more…)

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Statement of Tom “Smitty” Smith, Director, Public Citizen’s Texas Office

Today’s announcement that as a part of a settlement with NRG Energy, CPS Energy will withdraw its application for a federal loan guarantee for the South Texas (Nuclear) Project (STP) expansion and end further investment in the project demonstrates nuclear plants are too costly and too risky to build.

CPS Energy and the San Antonio City Council have signaled their desire to stop throwing good money after bad at STP, a message we hope will tell the U.S. Department of Energy that this plant is a poor candidate for federal loan guarantees. This debacle should show the federal government that nuclear loan guarantees are a fundamentally flawed and wasteful use of taxpayer money.

At $18.2 billion, the cost of STP has already tripled in just a year. When STP 1 and 2 were built, they ended up being six times over-budget and eight years behind schedule, and STP 3 and 4 look like they are on track to beat out that poor performance record.

Today’s announcement is a victory for the many citizens of San Antonio that have worked so hard in the last year to bring openness and accountability to the city’s participation in this project. We applaud CPS for wisely seeing the futility of wasting more time and energy on this flawed nuclear endeavor. We hope that they will be satisfied with the deal they’ve gotten and avoid the temptation to increase their ownership in the project. CPS has finally reached a settlement that shields San Antonio ratepayers from the financial risks of yet another nuclear deal gone wrong. Any future investment would throw that protection to the wind.

On Thursday, the City Council will vote on a proposed rate increase for CPS. The City Council should put a firewall in that proposal to ensure that no unauthorized money will be siphoned off to buy a bigger stake in STP.  San Antonio can’t afford to let this rate increase become a back door to continued nuclear investment.

We also have to wonder how NRG will move forward, without another clearly delineated partner in the project. Less than a month ago, NRG announced that if CPS “does not meet future obligations representative of its ownership interest in the site”, they “will wind down the project as quickly and as economically as possible.” We certainly hope that NRG CEO David Crane will remain true to that expressed intent to protect his shareholders from the next financial failure in a long historic line of overly expensive, poorly executed nuclear projects.


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 and Area Legislators Urge State to Deny Air Pollution Permit

HOUSTON – Area legislators joined Public Citizen this week in urging environmental agencies to deny the White Stallion coal plant its air permit because if built, the facility would degrade air quality in Houston.  The emissions from this proposed power plant would exacerbate the problem of smog in the Houston-Galveston-Beaumont region, which already is in violation, or “non-attainment,” of federal ozone standards and may soon have to meet higher standards as the result of a new proposal to strengthen the federal ozone rule

“The proposed White Stallion coal plant would harm the health of the people of Matagorda County, degrade the environment, and stifle economic development and tourism throughout the region,” said Ryan Rittenhouse, coal energy analyst with Public Citizen’s Texas office. “We are pleased to see Texas legislators step up to protect our citizens, the environment and Texas’ economic future.”

White Stallion’s air permit hearing before the State Office of Administrative Hearings begins today and will last through Feb. 19. That office will make a recommendation to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).

The air pollution permit is the first step; the project still will need a wastewater permit from the TCEQ and an additional permit from the Army Corps of Engineers.

If granted an air permit, White Stallion will increase emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx), the principle component of ozone, by more than a third in Matagorda County, where the plant will be located. That translates to more than 4,000 tons per year of NOx that would blow into the Houston area, dramatically increasing ozone levels in the non-attainment region.

“The proposed White Stallion coal plant will be less than 17 miles from the Houston/Galveston non-attainment region. Coal plants such as this one are one of the largest, individual sources of smog-forming pollutants,” said State Rep. Ana E. Hernandez (D-Houston). “Particularly in light of new EPA ozone standards, why should we allow a coal plant to be built on our doorstep? It will only make it that much harder for us to clean up Houston’s air pollution.”

Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ruled that the TCEQ has not been adhering to the Clean Air Act in its issuance of new air permits, but the TCEQ has failed to change its permitting process.

For this reason, Texas legislators, including Reps. Hernandez, Jessica Farrar (D-Houston) and Kristi Thibaut (D-Houston), sent appeal letters this week to Dr. Al Armendariz, regional administrator of the EPA, urging the agency to step in and provide much needed guidance and oversight to the TCEQ. Their letters asked that the White Stallion power plant not be given an air permit to begin construction until the EPA ensures that constituents will receive the full public health protections of the federal Clean Air Act.

“I urge TCEQ and the EPA to deny the permit authorizing the White Stallion coal plant to be built in Matagorda County. Texas’ air quality must be improved for the good health of every Texan. The goal of clean air and clean water can be obtained by a commitment to reducing air contaminants,” Farrar said.

Despite the fact that a new coal plant could hinder Houston’s ability to meet federal regulations, the TCEQ refuses to predict or consider air impacts that are outside the non-attainment region. In fact, the TCEQ executive director filed legal briefs arguing that evidence showing White Stallion would contribute to ozone problems in the Houston area is irrelevant to the decision of whether to grant the White Stallion air permit. The TCEQ similarly refuses to consider cumulative impacts when granting an air permit, such as the fact that the 30-year-old Parish coal plant is only 50 miles northeast of the White Stallion site and also within the Houston/Galveston non-attainment region.

White Stallion would also pull 36,000 acre-feet of water from the Colorado River every year. Increased activity from the two barges required to deliver coal every day would contaminate the water with toxic runoff and erode the embankments.

The proposed plant would be located along a 100-year floodplain and would store coal ash waste on site. In the event of extreme weather, that toxic waste could easily wash into public waterways.

“The proposed White Stallion coal plant would dump thousands of tons of toxic pollutants into our air and water every year, when this region is already in non-attainment for clean air,” Thibaut said. “Furthermore, construction of this plant would remove 36,000 acre-feet of water each year from the Colorado River, which serves many drought-stricken areas of our state. As the elected representative for thousands of my constituents who would be affected, and as the mother of a small child, I cannot stand by as our air and water quality are further eroded.”

If the project is granted its air permit, advocates still have a chance to challenge the permit in state court and to reform the TCEQ through the sunset review process.

“The TCEQ is one of a number of state agencies that are about to undergo sunset review at the Texas Legislature. The sunset commission has the power to reform this agency and insist that any permits issued in the future adhere to the Clean Air Act,” said Tom “Smitty” Smith, director of Public Citizen’s Texas office. “With this process, Texas has the opportunity to ensure that the health of Texans and their environment are protected more than the profits of energy corporations.”


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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A critical court ruling today rang the first chime in what could be the death knell of the so-called “nuclear renaissance,” starting with the failed expansion of the South Texas Project (STP).

This afternoon’s ruling by 408th District Court Judge Larry Noll that CPS Energy can safely withdraw from the proposed STP expansion project without losing all its investment offers the utility and the city of San Antonio the cue they’ve been waiting for to exit the national nuclear stage. Combined with the NRG Energy CEO’s announcement during a shareholder and press conference call this morning that NRG would “wind down the project as quickly and economically as possible” if CPS withdraws or STP does not receive federal loan guarantees, this news marks a major blow to those who claim nuclear power is a viable alternative to fossil fuel energy. The expansion project calls for two new nuclear reactors at a site with two existing reactors.

slide 8 of NRG's "STP 3&4 Nuclear Project and CPS Litigation" presentation given at shareholder and media conference call Friday, January 29, 2010 8:00 a.m. ET

These events give credence to the contention made over the past five years by opponents of nuclear power that it is a needlessly expensive and risky way to meet future energy needs.. In less than a year, the price of the STP nuclear expansion ballooned from around $5 billion to more than $18 billion. Given this case study of nuclear power’s failure, we must call into question the federal government’s decision to increase federal loan guarantees to support oversized, untenable projects that are already proving too risky for private investors.

Public Citizen calls on both CPS Energy and NRG Energy to stop throwing good money after bad with their nuclear expansion plans and halt the project. Thankfully, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro intervened by putting the project on hold before costs jumped too far out of San Antonio’s reach. Given the court’s announcement that the city’s interests are protected, we hope San Antonio will take the next responsible step and bow out entirely.

Statement of Tom “Smitty” Smith, Director of Public Citizen’s Texas Office


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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Statement of Tom “Smitty” Smith, Director of Public Citizen’s Texas Office

The latest interim charge of the state Senate Business and Commerce Committee provides a welcome opportunity for Texas to rein in rogue utilities like CPS Energy of San Antonio. Now tasked with studying the costs of municipally owned utilities’ generation plans and their impacts on residential and commercial customers, the Senate committee has the opportunity to protect Texans, especially low-income families, from the machinations of a utility bent on pleasing its industrial consumers at the cost of its most vulnerable customers.

CPS Energy is pursuing a risky investment in a nuclear expansion project that, depending on the final cost of the project, would raise rates between 36 percent and 60 percent over the next 10 years. The municipally owned utility has failed to adequately involve the citizenry and city government in its generation planning process. CPS Energy’s nuclear energy plan lacks any mechanism to protect consumers or low-income families, despite the fact that those customers would have to pick up the tab if the deal gets more expensive.

In comparison, the city of Austin’s generation planning process spanned two years and involved public input and roundtable stakeholder negotiations, leading to the development of special policies to protect low-income families from higher bills. Policies like built-in periodic reassessments of cost and feasibility will protect Austin residents and businesses from runaway energy costs that are so typical of large-scale nuclear construction projects. San Antonio residents need to see the same protections.

As Austin’s process clearly shows, CPS Energy can be much more inclusive and transparent. Public Citizen is grateful that the members of the Senate Business and Commerce Committee can step in and act as responsible figures in this process.


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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The full documentary Fighting Goliath: Texas Coal Wars about the fight against the TXU coal rush in Texas is now online and Hulu. Watch it here. Or, if you’re not sold yet, check out this preview:

[vimeo 2397935]

Fighting Goliath was produced by the Sundance Preserve and narrated by Robert Redford.  It features our very own Director Tom “Smitty” Smith and covers a years-long battle against coal that is still ongoing today.  As Redford has said about the film,

The heart of this film is really about issues of health, future generations and the value of our own land and resources. The film was made to support the story of the Texas coalition and their struggle against a giant power company. It is our way of giving other states and communities a model for what can happen when people take personal responsibility and get results. We want to let people know that they don’t have to give up hope.

Though 8 of the 11 TXU plants were canceled, the remaining 3 have been built and have begun operations – and they are dirtier than the 8 canceled plants combined. What’s more, there are 12 more coal plants either in the permitting process or being built in Texas – more new plant proposals than any other state in the country. Visit CoalBlock.org and StopTheCoalPlant.org for more information.

The film will also be shown on PBS during the months of January and February throughout Texas. Not all locations and times are solidified yet, but so far we have:

January 8, in College Station, Dallas, El Paso, Harlingen

January 9, in Houston

January 10, in Killeen

January 11, in Lubbock

January 21 at 8:30pm in Austin, Amarillo, Corpus Christi

Thursday, January 21 at 9:30pm and repeats Sunday January 24th at 1:30 pm for Waco

*Sometime* in January or February Midland/Odessa:

February 18 at 9pm in San Antonio


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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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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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…)

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Environmental Groups Applaud EPA Choice

New Regional Administrator could signal change in direction for polluted state

DALLAS – Environmental advocates across several states are applauding the Obama Administration’s choice of Dr. Al Armendariz to lead Region 6 of the Environmental Protection Agency, which includes Texas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Arkansas. Armendariz, an engineering professor at Southern Methodist University, has worked with diverse constituencies ranging from corporations to citizens groups and has published dozens of studies on myriad environmental issues throughout his career. His appointment garnered high praise from the environmental community.

“Our region has typically provided a haven for some of the worst polluters in the country, and has paid a steep price,” said Tom “Smitty” Smith, Texas Director for Public Citizen. “I believe the appointment of Dr. Al Armendariz signifies a new direction for Region 6.”

In an effort to make sure EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and the White House chose a strong environmental leader for Region 6, about twenty prominent advocates signed on to a list of principles that they hoped would guide the appointment. Dr. Armendariz was one of two candidates the groups endorsed for the position. Their list of qualities for an ideal administrator included a commitment to environmental justice and science-based policy, minimal ties to industries regulated by EPA and a strict adherence to the President’s Executive Order on Ethics, which was intended to prevent conflicts of interest between lobbyists and government agencies.

“Al Armendariz demonstrates the kind of vision, integrity and grassroots approach to enforcing environmental law this region needs if we’re truly going to clean up our act,” said Jeffrey Jacoby, Program Director at the Texas Campaign for the Environment (TCE). “He embodies the ‘Principles for Environmental Leadership and Real Change’ we believed should guide this appointment.”

Indeed, many within the environmental community see appointment of Armendariz as indicative of a new approach for the regional EPA.

“We are thrilled with Dr. Armendariz’s appointment,” said Luke Metzger, Director of Environment Texas. “After eight years of the Bush EPA, it’s a new day for Texas’ environment. Move over polluter lobbyists, science and human health are in charge now.”

In addition to environmentalists, some within the business community were also pleased with Obama’s choice. Former Austin City Councilmember Brigid Shea, now principal and co-founder of an environmental consulting firm, stated, “As a businessperson who’s concerned about the environment, it’s time this region got someone who understands that we can have both a healthy environment and a strong economy, that the two are not at odds.”

Dr. Armendariz will take over for Acting Region 6 Administrator Larry Starfield. During his tenure, he will face a number of pressing environmental challenges, including potentially overseeing the implementation of federal climate change legislation, bringing metropolitan areas in Texas into compliance with the Clean Air Act and working to clean up toxic “hot spots” along the Gulf Coast.

“Texas needs a tough air enforcement chief at EPA 6 Dallas like Dr. Armendariz who’s willing to tackle head on the state’s serious air quality challenges with large urban areas like Dallas and Houston failing to meet new ozone standards, and who is willing to require Texas to clean up its large dirty coal plants and refineries,” stated Dr. Neil Carman of the Sierra Club’s Lone Star Chapter.

Environmental justice activists from communities across the state are also hopeful that the appointment of Dr. Armendariz will benefit Texans living directly adjacent to polluting facilities

“The Executive Order 12898 on Environmental Justice is a document that looks good on paper, but in the real world EPA’s office of Environmental Justice has at times sided with industry over our communities; and pollution problems in poor communities have gotten worse, not better,” said Suzie Canales, Executive Director of Corpus Christi-based Citizens for Environmental Justice. “Now under Armendariz, we have real hope that environmental justice issues will be a serious priority to the agency.”

Many environmental justice groups endorsed Armendariz from the beginning of the Regional Administrator selection process, citing his commitment to science, his understanding of the issues and his dedication to enforcing the spirit of environmental laws such as the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts.

“Dr. Armendariz is exactly the kind of person you’d want to have this job, but seemingly never gets it,” said Jim Schermbeck, long-time Field Organizer with Downwinders at Risk. “Because of what’s at stake and the fact that Texas is the belly of the polluter beast, this may be one of the most important, far-reaching appointments the Obama Administration makes. Downwinders at Risk is proud to have been the group that first utilized Dr. Armendariz’s expertise for our cause of cleaning up the Midlothian cement kilns back in 2005. That work lead directly to his becoming the premier ‘citizen’s scientist’ in Texas on air pollution, and paved the way for his much larger influence on the state scene. Congratulations to both Dr. Armendariz and the EPA.”

As enthusiastic as environmentalists are about the appointment, they also promised to hold Dr. Armendariz accountable to the people affected by pollution issues in the five-state region. “As outstanding as Dr. Armendariz has been on paper and in interviews, we’ll be watching to make sure he walks the walk,” says Jacoby, who works in TCE’s Dallas office, “Remember, Al, my office is right down the street.”

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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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