Tag Archives: Governor Rick Perry

Wake Up and Stop Texas from Burning, Governor Perry

 Texas is in an unprecedented environmental emergency.

Eighty-one percent of the state is currently suffering exceptional drought.  It’s the worst one-year drought Texas has experienced in 116 years of state records. 

 Texas is literally on fire.  Over 3.6 million acres have burned in wildfires topping the record 1.8 million acres burned in 2010 with less than four months left.  There’ve been over 21,000 fires in Texas and wildfires in the state for 300 straight days. The Bastrop fire has been burning out of control for six days and nearly 1,400 homes have been destroyed 30 miles from the state capitol leaving Austin in clouds of toxic smoke. 

CLIMATE CHANGE Governor Perry has shown concern about the severe drought and wildfires.  Now it’s time for Perry to stop denying the root causes of climate change and take action to address those causes.

Climate change is caused by man-made greenhouse gas emissions.  Coal plants are the largest industrial source of carbon dioxide (CO2), the chief global warming gas.  Texas’ 19 coal-fired plants are the worst industrial cause of life-threatening, climate triggered perils that we are experiencing.  Texas coal-fired plants emit over 150 Million Tons of CO2 every year – over 99% of Texas coal plant air pollution — is currently unregulated.  Defended by Governor Perry, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) and the Texas Public Utility Commission, the Texas coal plants are continuing to heat our atmosphere, fueling the drought conditions leading to wildfires and putting 24 million Texans in harm’s way.

Texans’ health and lives are at risk!  Governor Perry and his appointees who lead Texas state agencies must address the biggest root cause of climate change in our state – coal plant CO2 emissions.

 OZONE, TOO   Beside smoke from wildfires, 18 million Texans are breathing harmful ozone.  Ozone is caused when nitrogen oxide emissions from factories like coal plants mix with volatile organic compounds in sunlight creating ground-level smog.  According to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), Texans have suffered 56 bad air days in 2011 when the ozone levels were unsafe. 

 After cutting funds by 75% from the Texas Forest Service year, Governor Perry is now calling for help to fight wildfires from the same federal government that he attacked in law suits for trying to protect Americans air from unsafe coal plant pollution.  Perry enlisted the TCEQ, the Rail Road Commission, and the Texas PUC to fight new federal safeguards against both CO2 and ozone.

 By fighting federal safeguards against ozone, Governor Perry and state agency leaders are denying that serious problem too.  They need to wake up to the reality of our ozone problem and help, not hinder, efforts to clean up our air and cool the atmosphere.

 WHAT’S BAD FOR BUSINESS?  Perry, ERCOT – Texas’ electricity grid operator, and the PUC claims that Texas doesn’t have enough electricity sources in our state and that the better ozone standard would hurt business and cost jobs.  Yet, ERCOT’s own reports show that the grid was secure even when 5000 additional megawatts were forced off-line. 

 There are many non-polluting steps we can take to manage electricity demand more efficiently while generating lower pollution from Texas power plants.

 To Governor Perry, ERCOT, and PUC, we say: Wake up! 

 The price tag for drought and wildfire destruction is too high.  Losses to Texas’ agriculture alone were about $5.2 billion before the Labor Day weekend fires. We now face greater costs. Ignoring climate change and fighting, rather than supporting, clean energy solutions is costing Texans lives, homes, and jobs.

 FIRST RESPONDERS COMMITMENT  On the campaign trail, Governor Perry has repeatedly criticized public works programs like the New Deal, yet Texas firefighters fought to protect the beautiful cabins built by New Deal workers in Bastrop State Park this week.

 Perry, ERCOT, and the PUC need to respond like our brave fire fighters putting out the blazing wildfires across Texas.  The Governor and state leaders must recognize and extinguish the root cause of these problems – the massive burning of coal in coal-fired power plants in Texas.  There’s a safer, cleaner, cheaper way, Governor, and the stakes are too high to continue to allow the burning of dirty coal.

Neil Carman, PhD Chemist, Sierra Club Clean Air Program Director, September 9, 2011

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Some lawyers and a laptop go up against Big Oil

Well.  That’s not quite all it takes to sue Shell, Chevron, and Exxon for illegal pollution at their gas refineries and chemical plants on Houston’s ship channel.  But it makes a great story on Houston’s KHOU-TV.

What it really takes is neighbors around the refineries standing up for their communities and for their rights to breathe as guaranteed under the Clean Air Act.  What it really takes is partnership — this one between Sierra Club and Environment Texas working together with a damn fine Boston law firm the National Environmental Law Center.  So what — these lawyers are Yankees.  We love ’em!!!  Plus we got some damn fine Texas lawyers helping out, too — Phil Hilders and Kelly Haragan.  So in this David and Goliath story, David is a team.

A team going up against the State of Texas. 

The whole problem is wrong-thinking in Texas leadership that would fight against our right to clean air.  Texas Governor Rick Perry, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and the Commissioners of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality are trying to buck the Clean Air Act — the law of our land that is there to protect public health.  

Sierra Club and our friends are not standing by and allowing that.  No damn way.

— Donna Hoffman, Communication Coordinator, Lone Star Chapter, Sierra Club

PS  I saw the Molly Ivins play recently so I had to say damn enough times in this post.

The Fight is Not Over

Today the Perry-appointed Commissioners of the TCEQ flagged their noses at federal law and voted to give a permit to a petroleum coke-fired power plant Las Brisas.  Also known as Lost Brisas. 

The bridge crossing into Corpus Christi.
Image via Wikipedia

A group of valiant Corpus Christi retirees traveled four hours from the Gulf Coast to the Capitol of Texas to represent hundreds of citizens, numerous organizations, and several counties’ medical societies opposing the dirty Las Brisas coke-fired power plant.  After the TCEQ’s illegal decision allowing the permit, the fed up Corpus Christi people headed to the Capitol to let our outlaw Governor know what they think of the decision. 

Yesterday the EPA told the TCEQ not to do it.  Today, the TCEQ ignored the directive from their accrediting agency and violated the law.

The fight is far from over.  And though tenacious troops may feel weary today that our state has gone outlaw and failed to protect, we are just catching the collective breath — because we still can…a deep breath!  And we’re ready to keep up this fight to block Las Brisas.  Watch the KIII-TV news coverage.

On our side is the federal Clean Act.  We’re calling on the EPA to uphold it in Texas where the outlaw TCEQ would allow large, ready polluters to have their way with our health and environment.

Read more to find out why this plant would be a grave malignant travesty and why Sierra Club and our friends are not going to let it happen.

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Perry’s TCEQ Commissioners Fail Yet Again to Protect Public Health

Governor Rick Perry's TCEQ Loves Coal Plants. Ignores Pleas of People for Healthy Clean Air.

Despite the wisdom of the Matagorda County medical community’s pleas in a letter signed by 30 doctors, despite its own Administrative Law Judges’ recommendations, despite the wishes of the residents of Matagorda County in the No Coal Coalition, Governor Perry’s Commissioners at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) today granted the White Stallion coal plant permit to pollute.   

This morning,  while citizens from Matagorda County including a class of  school children watched, Chairman Shaw and Commissioners Garcia and Rubio, criticized the recommendations from the state’s administrative law judges and decided to grant the permit with special conditions.  Sierra Club once again calls on the state legislature to reform the TCEQ so that it cannot continue to ignore federal and state air quality standards during the permitting process.  

Air polution from Coal Plants is Linked to Asthma, other Respiratory Ailments, Heart Disease, Neurological Disorders, and Early Mortality.

 “Once again, the Commissioners are doing the work for the applicant and using this failed system to avoid public input.”  said Jen Powis Senior Regional Representative for Sierra Club.  “Today’s decision is another pitiful example of how Governor Perry and his political cronies ignore federal and state law and reward companies to pollute in Texas.”  

The Cronies — Perry’s TCEQ Commissioners Shaw, Garcia, and Rubinstein

  

“TCEQ is a failed agency and has failed the citizens of Texas again.”  said Allison Sliva with the No Coal Coalition of Matagorda County.   “The administrative law judges didn’t like this permit, elected officials in Matagorda County and Houston have raised serious questions about it, and the citizens don’t like it.  But rather than consider these criticisms, the Commissioners ignored these concerns and simply granted it.”    
Read more about what happenedMourn…then, organize!