Tag Archives: Clean Air Act

“Save Big Bend” Retreat

As you may or may not know, Texas’s iconic and beloved Big Bend National Park and Guadalupe Mountains are being obstructed with Haze. You may be wondering, “Who is causing this Haze?” Coal plants and refineries are responsible for this obstruction. Under the Clean Air Act, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is required to reduce and eliminate this haze, however their proposed rule exempts Texas’s oldest and dirtiest power plants from installing readily available, modern pollution controls.

The Sierra Club has collected and sent thousands of comments to the EPA asking  for air pollution safeguards that would reduce haze. The EPA will not announce new haze rules until November, but the Sierra Club is still planning to keep the friendly pressure on the EPA.

You can help us! There are many ways you can help us with this campaign. Probably the funnest way you can help us is by coming on our retreat to Big Bend on May 11-13, 2012.

At the retreat we’ll do the following: 1) Strategize – we need to determine our strategy for convincing EPA to improve the proposed haze safeguard.  Our strategy sessions will include discussions on how we can use the press, social media, and organizing to reach our goals.  2) Training – media, communications, and organizing experts will provide short training sessions to empower us with the tools and knowledge we’ll need to win. In addition, we’ll hear from experienced activists who have been working to reduce air pollution at Big Bend for years. 3) Networking –we’ll provide opportunities for you to get to know the other “Save Big Bend”campaign volunteers.

We definitely need as much support and volunteers as possible if we want to protect our national parks from Haze. If you would like to volunteer and/or join us on our retreat, or if you have any questions, contact Stephanie Cole at  Stephanie.Cole@sierraclub.org or (512) 477-1729.

We hope you can join us!!

– Lauren Fedele, Beyond Coal Sierra Intern

Haze? No Way-ze!

Do you love Big Bend and the Guadalupe Mountains? They need your help. We have a critical window to clean up air pollution in our National Parks.

Join the Sierra Club in encouraging the EPA to protect our beautiful parks and state from haze pollution. You’re invited to RSVP and join us on a conference call to plan the protection of our Texas heritage.

Event Details

WHO: Texans who want clean air at Big Bend and Guadalupe Mountains
WHAT: A conference call (it’s free for you to join– all you need is a phone)
WHEN: Thursday, February 2nd, 7 pm CST
**Call-in information: dial-in number: 866.501.6174, pin: 317.9401.1892#
WHERE: Your phone!
RSVP: http://action.sierraclub.org/site/Calendar?id=159302

Questions:
 Contact Stephanie Cole at 512-477-1729 or stephanie.cole@sierraclub.org

Jessica Olson, Texas Sierra Club

Clean Air Rules!

The EPA released the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) today protecting the health of millions of Americans. The new rule helps 27 states to lower air pollution and improve air quality for all through the reduction of emissions from coal plants that add to ozone and fine particle pollution.

This new rule replaces the 2005 Clean Air Interstate Rule, which in 2008 a court ordered the EPA to replace.

Health Impacts

The EPA estimates that this new rule will keep Americans healthy by preventing:

  • up to 34,000 cases of premature mortality
  • 15,000 non-fatal heart attacks
  • 19,000 hospital and emergency department visits
  • 420,000 cases of upper and lower respiratory symptoms
  • 400,000 cases of aggravated asthma

This adds up to avoiding 1.8 million days of work or school missed by Americans and saving $280 billion/year! According to EPA Administrator, this rule will prevent 670-1,000 premature deaths by 2014 in Texas alone.

Other Impacts

The CSAPR will also:

  • Allow families to enjoy the summer without smog.
  • Increase visibility in national parks.
  • Protect sensitive ecosystems
  • More jobs through new construction of pollution controls, according to the EPA

Affects in Texas

“There is no reason why Texas shouldn’t get the benefits of this extraordinary rule like the rest of the country.” –Lisa Jackson, EPA Administrator

Texas was one of the states included in this rule, which sets limits for NOx and SO2emissions. While some in the energy industry are complaining that there was not enough time to comment on this rule, according to EPA administrator Lisa Jackson they were given plenty of time and made a number of comments. The pollution controls are widely available and many power plants have already invested in them.

Also, this rule will help Texas, since Texas is affected by ozone from 11 other states! Most major cities in Texas will be out of attainment when the EPA releases its new ozone standards. Click here to see a map!  Moreover, Texans are the people most severely impacted by pollution from power plants, so the CSAPR will help us to lower pollution in our state benefiting many across Texas.

For more information go to the EPA’s website at: http://www.epa.gov/airtransport/

Also, next week Texas environmental groups will release new data that details pollution problems at existing coal plants and underscores the importance EPA’s inclusion of Texas in this new Cross State Air Pollution rule.

EPA administrator Lisa Jackson thinks it is a fundamental right for people to be able to breathe clean air and raise their families without the health threats of air pollution. Don’t you agree?

Click here to sign a petition supporting the EPA’s new proposal for mercury standards and continue protecting the health of American families!

Join us at a meeting!The Austin group of the Lone Star Chapter of Sierra Club on the 2nd Tuesday of every month (except holidays) at 7pm (with a social hour starting at 6pm) in North Dining Room of Scholz’ Beer Garten, 1607 San Jacinto.

-Julia Von Alexander, Beyond Coal Intern


ALERT: Chisum Would Gut TCEQ Process

Folks, we have been focusing on fighting Chisum’s amendments to the TCEQ Sunset Bill. But Chisum has another trick up his sleeve- the amendment is being introduced as a stand-alone bill, HB 3251.

This is the bill that eliminates the opportunity for a contested case hearing on any amendment to an air pollution permit held by an electric generating facility (read: coal-fired power plant) to implement new controls on hazardous air pollutants such as mercury and toxics (hazardous air pollutants or HAPs are covered under Section 112 of the federal Clean Air Act).

The contested case opportunity is replaced with what essentially is a public meeting (called public “hearing” in the bill but this is really more akin to what we know in Texas as a public meeting) and public comment period – basically a meaningless public venting process.

No “affected person” status, no referral of a case to the State Office of Hearing Examiners for a quasi-judicial proceeding before an administrative law judge, no discovery, no cross-examination of witnesses, no burden of proof on the applicant, no leverage to force an applicant to the negotiating table to try to greater reductions in the emissions of hazardous air pollutants than the applicant and TCEQ have already agreed to (not likely to be as protective as what citizen groups would demand).

Call your State Representative! Find them here.

Sample Script:

“Hi my name is ____ and I’d like to leave a message for Representative _____. I strongly oppose House Bill 3251. It eliminates the contested case process when industry applies for a permit, which means that the people don’t have any role in the decisionmaking process. Please ask Representative ____ to oppose HB 3251. Thanks.”

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URGENT: Stop Chisum Amendments from Destroying Contested Case Hearing Process

Smokestacks from a wartime production plant, W...

Image via Wikipedia

Call your state representatives, this will be hitting the House Floor tomorrow morning.  Find your representative’s contact information here.

From Ken Kramer, Lone Star Chapter Director:

“State Rep. Warren Chisum is seeking to hitch a ride on the TCEQ sunset legislation for one of his other stalled House bills (House Bill 3251). This Chisum bill – now resurrected as a proposed amendment to the sunset bill – would eliminate the opportunity for a contested case process by which Texans may seek adequate protection for their communities and families from mercury and other hazardous air pollutants from coal-fired power plants.

“This Chisum proposal would relegate ‘public participation’ in air pollution permit amendments for electric generating plants to a public review and comment process and a public ‘hearing’ where community residents could come and vent their concerns about the permit amendment – but without any leverage to pressure the permit applicant to negotiate improvements to the permit amendment.

This Chisum amendment arises because – as a result of a U.S. Supreme Court decision a couple of years ago – coal-fired power plants and other electric generating facilities are going to have to meet stronger standards (‘MACT’ or ‘maximum achievable control technology’ standards) under the federal Clean Air Act for controlling ‘hazardous air pollutants’ such as mercury and toxics. That will require amendments to current air permits. Rep. Chisum wants to do away with the opportunity for a contested case on those specific permit amendments. Doing so, however, would remove the ability of citizens to make sure that those hazardous air pollutant control standards are as protective of their health and their environment as they need to be. Texans need to retain that leverage of a contested case process to get coal plant operators to the table to agree to tighter air pollution protections or to get TCEQ officials to require truly protective emission limits.”

Call your state representatives, this will be hitting the House Floor tomorrow morning.  Find your representative’s contact information here.

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Joe Barton Doesn’t Really Like Breathing Dirty Air

Joe Linus Barton, a Representative from Texas

Image via Wikipedia

North Texas Representative Joe Barton is leading an all-out assault on the EPA and the Clean Air Act.  It took $1,507,780 to get him to do that.  In the grand scheme of things, that’s not a whole lot of money to try and sell out an entire nation’s air quality.  He’s obviously confused and I’m thinking, let’s not let him go so astray!

Tomorrow, the Barton-led U.S. House Energy and Power SubCommittee is holding an attack hearing in Houston.  Can you attend and speak in support of the EPA and the Clean Air Act tomorrow in Houston?

HEARING DETAILS — Thursday, March 24, 2011, 9:30 a.m.
Garrett-Townes Auditorium
South Texas College of Law, 1303 San Jacinto Street
Houston, Texas 77002

Here’s what Eva Hernandez, Sierra Club Field Organizing Manager has to say about the situation —
Clean air protections are essential for Texas. Because of coal-fired power plants, oil refineries and other industrial polluters, our state has some of the dirtiest air in the nation.  Texas children, moms and grandparents are bearing the brunt of this toxic air pollution in the form of heart disease, asthma, neurological defects and other serious health problems.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has the potential to clean up our air and improve our health by enforcing the landmark Clean Air Act.  Based on EPA data, the Clean Air Act has saved more than 200,000 lives and prevented millions of illnesses over the last 20 years.

EPA clean air protections also have the potential to create much-needed jobs in Texas.  Texas is already a leader in developing renewable energy, such as wind farms in West Texas, and the EPA’s clean air protections offer a greater incentive for investment in our emerging clean energy sector.

Despite these benefits, corporate-backed Texas politicians like Representative Joe Barton are spearheading an all-out assault on EPA and the Clean Air Act.  In addition to cosponsoring legislation by Rep. Fred Upton and climate change-denier Senator James Inhofe to prevent the EPA from regulating toxic emissions, Rep. Barton is also leading a task force to try to stop the EPA’s commonsense permitting process requiring big Texas polluters to install air pollution control technology.

While shocking, this attack on Texans’ health comes as no surprise.  Rep. Barton has received more than $1,507,780 in campaign contributions from the oil and coal industries.  Big Oil and Big Coal value their bottom line over the health of our families and our future.  These corporate polluters make huge profits dirtying our air and water, and now they’re using those profits to buy influence with members of Congress who are willing to undermine our nation’s fundamental health and environmental laws.

Out-of-touch politicians like Rep. Barton need to step aside and let the EPA do its job. Texans need bold leadership to stimulate our economy with clean energy and protect our health from toxic air pollution.
The Sierra Club is mobilizing its 1.4 million members and supporters nationwide to support the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to protect our health and our environment. More information is available at http://www.sierraclub.org.

Posted by Donna Hoffman, Communications Coordinator, Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club

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Who’s got the MACT?

Not Texas. And we need it.

Due to the Clean Air Act, the EPA will be proposing a series of public health protections this year, including boiler MACT, which is intended to limit hazardous air pollutants, or air toxics. The boiler MACT (maximum available control technology) protection will cut down on emissions of air toxics like mercury, arsenic, lead, dioxin, and acid gases.

How? It basically means that all of our dirty ol’ powerplants will need to install equipment to match the best-performing and cleanest plants for each type of pollutant. Existing power plants will have more time to meet the standard—taking into account available technologies and cost.

To be clear: mercury is a neurotoxin. It can cause central nervous system damage.  It is the reason for which many lakes and rivers have warnings about eating the fish, and why pregnant women are advised not to eat any seafood at all.

Of course, some people don’t think the EPA should exist, or enforce the Clean Air Act, blah blah blah. Well, forget them. We need this. And we need to show that we want the EPA to do its job.

Get Active. Sign up to be a Texas Healthkeeper.

But why should Texans care?

One teaspoon of mercury is sufficient to contaminate a 20-acre lake. Our lakes.

But we’ll let these pictures do the talking: it’s probably worth a thousand words.

From Environment Texas.

From Environment Texas.

From Environment Texas.

Ready to protect our Texas rivers, our land, and most importantly, our health?

Join us!

Get Active. Sign up to be a Texas Healthkeeper.

Flavia de la Fuente
Conservation Organizer

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