Tag Archives: Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club

Coal Pollution Effects on Human Health

Coal fired power plants are the single largest source of pollution in any country. http://saferenvironment.wordpress.com/2008/09/05/coal-fired-power-plants-and-pollution/

Coal fired power plants are the single largest source of pollution in any country.

Coal-fired power plant emissions contribute to global warming, ozone smog, acid rain, regional haze, and – perhaps most consequential of all from a public health standpoint- fine particle pollution. Emissions from the U.S. power sector cause tens of thousands of premature deaths each year, and hundreds of thousands of heart attacks, asthma attacks, hospital admissions, and lost workdays. So why are these power plants still up and running, and more importantly, why are there still planned developments of new plants?

To simplify things, public health concerns have focused, for at least the last decade, on the role of very small airborne particles in causing or contributing to various forms of respiratory and cardiopulmonary ailments and increasing the risk of premature death. These fine particles are particularly dangerous because they can bypass your body’s defensive mechanisms and become lodged deep inside your lungs. In fact, research also indicates that short-term exposures to fine particle pollution is linked to cardiac effects, including increased risk of heart attack. Meanwhile, long-term exposure to fine particle pollution has been shown to increase the risk of death from cardiac and respiratory diseases and lung cancer, resulting in shorter life-expectancy for people living in the most polluted cities. So who are the people that are most likely to be exposed to these health risks? In general, the poor, minority groups, and people who live in the areas downwind of multiple power plants. And unfortunately, persistent elevated levels of fine particle pollution are common across wide areas of the U.S., mainly in the east.

The adverse effects, including abnormally high levels of mortality, occur even at low ambient concentrations of fine particles—suggesting there is no “safe” threshold for this type of pollution. Since most fine particle-related deaths are thought to occur within a year or two of exposure, reducing power plant pollution will have almost immediate benefits. Below is a very nice table that I found from Physicians for Social Responsibility, outlining various diseases/conditions connected to coal pollutants.

Coal Pollution vs human Health

As it stands, we are at a turning point for determining the U.S.’s future energy policies. The health consequences tied to coal production are vast and have major impacts. We need to address the issue of coal-fired energy production, and we need to address it now. There should be NO new construction of coal fired power plants, and we must initiate plans to retire as many coal plants as possible that are currently in production.

Finally, as a nation, we must develop our capacity to produce energy from clean, safe, renewable sources in order to phase out the existing coal plants without compromising the ability to meet the nations energy needs. Instead of investing any more of our money into coal, the U.S. should fund conservation measures, energy efficiency, and renewable energy sources such as wind energy and solar power, which don’t have such a negative effect on public health.

Written by: Courtney Dunphy

SAVE THE DATE: September 29th-30th The 12th Annual Renewable Roundup is Back!

Renewable Roundup 2012!

At a Glance…

WHAT?!?!: The 12th Annual Renewable Roundup is a sustainability symposium centered around green living, alternative energy education, family festivities, and sustainable lifestyle practices for our future. This event wouldn’t be complete without it’s A-list of Guest Speakers, Hands-on Workshops, Eco-friendly Vendors, Progressive Exhibitors, Tasty Food Demonstrators, and Supportive Sponsors.

WHERE?!?!: Fredricksburg, Texas

WHEN?!?!: The last weekend in September. Saturday September 29th 9:00am – 6:00pm and Sunday September 30th 9:00am- 5:00pm

HOW?!?!: For more information on how to get involved with the Roundup as a either a participant or patron, visit http://theroundup.org/.

WHO?!?!: Everyone and anyone is invited! We encourage all individuals and families to come out to this great event looking to learn about sustainable living practices. This event is proudly brought to you by a joint effort from TREIA, Texas Center for Policy Studies, and The Texas Sierra Club Lone Star Chapter.

Learn How, Here!

In Depth…

DETAILS/ARTICLE: 

Great News!  The annual Renewable Energy Roundup and Green Living Fair will be taking place again this year in the beautiful and historical town Fredericksburg, Texas! Organized by the Texas Renewable Energy Industry Association, in collaboration with the Texas Center for Policy Studies and the Lone Star Chapter, Sierra Club, Renewable Roundup is a collaborative event centered around individuals, organizations, and companies passionate about sustainable living.  The event planning committee is working hard on making this year’s show the best ever. The underlining theme of this weekend event strives to promote cleaner and smarter ways of using our resources while educating the public about “Greener” lifestyles and options. This event serves as both a conference and festival, as it enlightens, entertains, and publicizes those interested in a brighter greener future. We would love to have you at this extraordinary event the 4th weekend in September (Sept. 29 &30). Please check out our website http://www.theroundup.org/ to find out more or contact Event Coordinator Laura Rice at info@theroundup.org.

INVOLVEMENT:

  • Attend!
  • Apply to be a Guest Speaker
  • Host a workshop the Friday before the gates open on Saturday morning
  • Reserve a booth or exhibit space to advertise and or promote a sustainable idea or product
  • Advertise
  • Sponsor the event
  • Volunteer at the event
  • Come to the VIP kick-off party Friday evening

Can’t Wait to See Everyone There! 🙂

-Danya Gorel Sierra Club Intern

~Special Thanks to Mentor and Conservation Director Cyrus Reed~

Make History on Earth Day

Less than a month away is everyone’s favorite holiday, Earth Day! And we at Sierra Club thought, what better way to celebrate than to get together with all of our friends, allies and supporters?! That’s why we are going to be launching a festival on Sunday, April 22nd from Noon til 6pm at the Mueller Park. Join us that day, along with the City of Austin and the Texas Green Network as we celebrate what brightens all of our days, The Earth!

Not only are we going to be having a blast, but we’ll be making history as well. The Austin Beyond Coal campaign will be shooting a gigantic group, aerial photo that day where our volunteers help us spell out the words “Beyond Coal”! This will mark the largest project nationwide for the Beyond Coal campaign and we need your help! If you want  to be a part of this monumental occasion, be at the park by 3:30 so we can get you into formation for the letters.

We will also have an A-list of excellent speakers throughout the day, including Mayor of Austin Lee Leffingwell, and Native Texan/activist/populist/columnist/cowboy-hat-enthusiast Jim Hightower. Hightower has been fighting for the Earth and the people who inhabit it for over 40 years.

The Festival will also include:

After the aerial photo, Za Boom Ba will be kicking the evening off with a huge interactive drum circle with room for 500 drummers!

This is certainly an event you won’t want to miss. And definitely make sure to bring all your friends and family at 3:30 to be apart of our history-making Beyond Coal photo! We’ll see you on Earth Day!

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

We Want You! Port Aransas…Fans Us!

Port A Meeting This Weekend

One of my favorite things about the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club is how we set priorities and make our decisions.  Ken Kramer, the Director of the Chapter for some thirty years is great at maintaining a democratic process.    He herds the cats in our ‘Excom’. 

Our Excom, or Executive Committee of representatives from around the state gets together 4 times a year to set our priorities.  They make decisions and move forward on Action Items. 

If you’re interested in getting more deeply involved in fighting for clean air and water for people and the environment, wild lands conservation, climate recovery and clean energy solutions — join the Sierra Club!  And set your sights on becoming a member of the Lone Star Chapter Excom!

Wanna know more?  Check out the website of the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club — www.texas.sierrraclub.org or the blog of the Chapter and National Sierra Club in Texas —  http://www.texasgreenreport.org

Thank you Cake

The Chapter Excom is made of representatives from the local Sierra Club Groups around the Stateand some at-large volunteers.  Thanks to these folks from the Austin, Alamo, Beaumont, Big Bend, Coastal Bend, Dallas, Fort Worth, Golden Triangle, Lower Rio Grande Valley, Pineywoods, and Red River groups — we are paddling along, FIGHTING BACK against ye olde polluters and wanna be polluters, championing state and national parks protections, pointing the way to our clean energy future.

For a taste from our table, here’s what was on the Lone Star Chapter Excom’s Agenda today.  Any of these campaigns tickle your tummy?  Want to bring your dish to the table?

  • Clean Water Act enforcement
  • Texas Living Waters project
  • Tax Breaks for Water Stewards Land Management (on Texas ballots, November 8th)
  • Getting off fossil fuels by 2050
  • Public participation in Gas Fracking rule-making comments
  • Resolution asking National Sierra Club to increase funding and staffing of Beyond Oil campaign
  • Fighting uranium mining in our aquifers
  • Wind siting comments
  • Clean energy solutions
  • Texas Apollo Alliance-Blue Green Alliance merger
  • Stopping the Tar Sands pipeline
  • Appealing Radioactive Waste licenses
  • Grand Parkway & FEMA Lawsuits
  • Big Bend National Park Multi-Use Trail
  • Texas Parks & Wildlife Department outcomes from Legislative session
  • Roll Beyond Coal this Fall
  • Endangered Species Act and Dunes Sagebrush Lizard (Commissioner Jerry Patterson’s reptile dysfunction)
  • Protecting What We Love photo exhibit
  • Plus, other conservation items!

Want to volunteer and get involved in any of these campaign areas?  Email lonestar.chapter@sierraclub.org or phone our Austin-based conservation office, 512-477-1729.  We need:  graphics artists, phone bankers, data entry, letter writers, blog contributors, ad copy writers, tablers, meeting and press conference participants, fundraisers, computer experts, sign-makers, researchers, website creators, outings online promoters, and other volunteer participation to make these campaigns successful!  Come, join our Team and have fun protecting the environment with Sierra Club.

Go, Fight, Spin! 

Explore, Enjoy, Protect, and…Win!

#   #   #

Posted by Donna Hoffman

Devil’s River State Natural Area: Would Texas toss almost 20,000 acres?

Could be cause for concern.

Texas Parks & Wildlife Department is thinking about trading almost 20 thousand acres, that’s 19,989 to be exact of the Devil’s River State Natural Area in west Texas.  The Agency is calling it a swap but Sierra Club sent them a letter today about our concerns.  Basically those are:

  1. The public needs more detailed information to have meaningful input.
  2. The time frame for input before the decision is too fast — A decision could happen Nov. 4?!
  3. Financially questionable — requires additional cash payment.  Land being swapped for includes infrastructure that would be costlier to maintain than a natural area.
  4. This move would reduce Texas park lands by 2,000 acres.  Texas has few state natural areas and relatively few public park lands per capita compared to other states.  TPWD should be expanding park lands, not reducing!
  5. While Sierra Club likes acquiring certain new parks for ecological and other reasons regardless of location, TPWD has a priority to acquire new parks near major cities.  Val Verde County, where TPWD would have to put down cash in this exchange, is far from any urban area, God bless ’em!
  6. Canoeists and kayakers might no longer be able to navigate the entire stretch of Devil’s River. 

Right now, you can ask the TPWD’s Conservation guy  Ted.Hollingsworth@tpwd.state.tx.us to allow more time for public input and to hold off on this swap until the public has more information and can provide our input on the decision.

There are also a couple of public meetings scheduled —

Del Rio, Wed. Oct. 20, 6:00 PM, Del Rio Civic Center, Mesquite Room, 1915 Veteran’s Blvd., Del Rio, TX  – 830-774-8641

San Antonio, Tues, Oct. 26, 6:00 PM, Central Public Library, 600 Soledad, San Antonio, TX — 210-207-2500

In the meantime, watch for a planned Action Alert.

If you’re not already signed-up, you can help a lot by joining Sierra Club’s Action Alert system.  

It has definitely made a difference!  Here’s what happened when our Action Alert activists rapidly generated 400 emails to TPWD about a proposed sale of Big Bend Ranch State Park.

Explore, Enjoy, Protect!

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!