Tag Archives: Lone Star Chapter Sierra Club

Rally for Renewables in Austin

SIerra Club members and volunteers outside AUstin CIty Hall on Thursday June 20th.

SIerra Club members and volunteers outside Austin CIty Hall on Thursday June 20th.

Last week, members and volunteers with Sierra Club showed their support at the Rally for Renewables outside of Austin’s City Hall. The event was part of the Beyond Coal Campaign to reduce dependence upon coal burning and increase utilization of wind and solar energy. Why are dirty coal plants a continuing issue in the 21st century? The focus, or heart,  of the rally is to encourage Austin’s mayor and city council to retire the Fayette Power Project and be coal free. The emphasis here is on retire vs selling the plant off and “greenwash” the city into a state of coal free energy. Retiring the plant would ensure the end of the devastating effects the burning of coal from this plant has on our environment. Below are some quick facts to help everyone understand the importance of relieving us of our dependence upon burning coal.

Coal plants are our nation’s top source of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Burning coal is also a leading cause of smog, acid rain, and toxic air pollution. These emissions of toxins into our environment leads to various forms of climate change.  Various forms of pollution includes: Mercury, Sulfur Dioxide, Nitrogen Oxides, and Ash.

Toxic Mercury  is released into our atmosphere and then returns to the surface via rain and enters our streams and rivers. Prolonged exposure to Mercury can lead to numerous neurological and heart damaging conditions. An uncontrolled power plant can emit approximately 170 pounds of Mercury ash per year.

Coal plants are the leading source of Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) pollution. An uncontrolled power plant can produce up to 14,000 tons of SO2 per year. SO2 accumulation in the atmosphere causes acid rain which leads to the destruction of crops, forests,  and soils, and acidifies our lakes and streams.

Nitrogen Oxide causes ground level smog. An uncontrolled plant can emit over 10,000 tons of Nitrogen Oxides per year. This pollutant is naturally found in the atmosphere, however, human activities such as agriculture, transportation, and industries have been steadily increasing the amount found in the atmosphere.

U.S. Nitrous Oxide Emissions, By Source:

In the US alone, we produce no less than 140 million tons of coal ash pollution. All of that ash has to go somewhere, and in most cases it is dumped in the backyard of these coal plants. This ash can be put into open-air pits or into man-made ponds. Unregulated dump sites can leach these pollutants into the ground and potentially into our ground water systems, by way of aquifers.

Overall, The Rally for Renewables was a success! Numerous volunteers came out to show their support for the cause. The event lasted for nearly 2 hours with many different community members making appearances. This event, just like any like it, is an important demonstration to our local governments. As citizens of this earth, we have the right to have our voices heard, just as they were last week.

Written by: Courtney Dunphy

Want to Spend the Summer in Austin Fighting Climate Change?

Are you looking for a meaningful, professional internship in Austin this summer? Great! We’re looking for Summer interns!

Austin, TX

Austin, TX

As you may know, The Sierra Club is the oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization in the country. The Texas chapter focuses on many environmental issues including but not limited to energy efficiency, fossil fuel dependency, endangered species, and water conservation. Interns will have the opportunity to help organize a grassroots campaign, work in communications, and conduct policy research. Interns will also learn real skills through professional training workshops and work with a professional staffer as a mentor and resource.

Qualifications: A passion for environmental issues and social change, strong communication and people skills, and a desire to develop campaign organizing skills. No previous experience required.

Interns and Volunteers Making a Difference

Interns and Volunteers Making a Difference

Check out our Craigslist post!

To apply: Please send your resume and cover letter to Student Outreach Coordinator Tansy Stobart at tansystobartsc@gmail.com and CC Internship Manager Lydia Avila at lydia.avila@sierraclub.org. Applications are due Wednesday, May 8th at 12:00 PM.

We hope to hear from you soon!

What’s coming out of Monti, Marti, and Brownie’s Stacks?

Sierra Club and Environmental Integrity Project want to know. 

Luminant's Big Brown coal plant in Fairfield, Texas

That’s what Neil Carman, Sierra Club’s Clean Air Program Director calls Luminant’s Monticello, Martin Lake, and Big Brown coal plants.  Together with Environmental Integrity Project, Sierra Club has found over 50,000 violations of the Clean Air Act at the Martin Lake plant alone.  The three, east Texas coal plants together emit over 5,000 pounds of mercury pollution each year and together are three of the largest carbon polluters for Texas. 

Now, we want to know other ways Luminant might be breaking the law.  The EPA has the info, but so far won’t give it up. That’s why yesterday Sierra Club and Environmental Integrity Project asked the EPA to hand over the documents in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed in federal district court in San Francisco. 

Most of all, we want Luminant to clean up their act.  And ultimately, we want Texas to move beyond burning coal for electricity and continue on the clean power path with energy efficiency and renewables.

Here’s Jen Powis, Sierra Club Regional Beyond Coal Campaign Manager:

For too long Luminant—and particularly these three plants—have been polluting the air in Texas and our neighboring states.  The Freedom of Information Act allows the public to obtain these documents so we can see for ourselves whether Luminant has violated the law in more ways than we already know about.  If Luminant has broken the law, then the company should be held accountable and if the state or the EPA won’t do it, then Sierra Club should.

Read more here.

~  Donna Hoffman