Tag Archives: public citizen

Keep fracking out of our trade agreements!

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement is a threat to those of us concerned about fracking in Texas and across the country. The Sierra Club’s Beyond Natural Gas Campaign and Labor & Trade program have partnered to call attention to portions of the TPP that will pave the way for more fracking in Texas.

US Trade Representative Ron Kirk refuses to acknowledge the concerns of more than 28,000 Americans who signed our petition to call for more environmental and worker protections in the TPP. Tell Ron Kirk that we want responsible, fair trade that doesn’t sacrifice our air and water quality in order to ship natural gas to Pacific Rim nations.


This factsheet provides a good overview of why trade matters to those of us primarily concerned about the environment. Please take a moment to sign and share our petition against expedited fracking and LNG exports.

Feel free to share this link to your anti-fracking networks and to your friends on Facebook: 

For more information on the Sierra Club’s Responsible Trade program, visit http://www.sierraclub.org/trade/



Dave Cortez
Sierra Club Lone Star Chapter
David.Cortez (at) SierraClub.org

Burnet Beyond Coal

The Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal team put together a small town hall event in Burnet County.  We talked about the importance of the energy-water nexus, and how important it is for us to use less water-intensive energy sources in this time of drought and inclement climate changes. We had a member of the Pedernales Electric Cooperative Board, a local city council member, and a local reporter among those in attendance. Check out the pictures and let us know if you want to get involved!

PEC Board Member Cristi Clement talks about her work on moving Pedernales towards more renewables while balancing immediate needs.

Kaiba from Public Citizen talks about what PEC could be doing to reach its renewable goals.

Colin Clark, Lauren Ross, and Lydia Avila.

Lydia discusses next steps. Flavia observes.

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Texas Sierrans join with hundreds of activists to stop a “NAFTA of the Pacific”

Sierra Club, Texas AFLCIO, Texas Fair Trade Coalition, CWA, and Occupy Gather at Trade Rally

(Rally in Addison, Texas)

This past weekend in Addison, Texas, a north Dallas suburb, more than 300 environmental activists, labor unionists, public health advocates, human rights supporters and members of the Occupy movement joined together to prevent a  “NAFTA of the Pacific”. The rally demanded the release of the draft text of the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement.

The American people have been denied the right to see the text of the TPP that could weaken environmental rules, increase fracking and exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG), lower labor standards and wages, outsource more jobs, increase medicine prices, throw out food safety policies, ban Buy American rules, and allow multinational corporations to challenge and overturn U.S. federal and state laws in private trade tribunals that operate entirely outside of  U.S. court system.

(Sierra Club’s Ilana Solomon gets crowd to shout “hell yeah” to supporting American-made solar & wind products)

A very big “thank you” to the Dallas and Ft. Worth Sierra Clubs for taking time to learn about the Trans-Pacific Partnership and for attending our events. Another shout out to the Lone Star Chapter interns who helped make over 300 calls to Texas Sierrans about the threats TPP could pose to environmental, labor, health, and consumer regulations in the U.S.

Trade is an issue that crosses all political and issue campaign boundaries. Whether you care about clean air, saving American jobs, fair access to medicine, or holding Wall Street accountable, the fight for fair trade is a much-needed unifying battle that can help us build coalitions that can win the change we want to see.

Thanks again for all your support and hard work, and stay tuned for some next steps as we prepare to mobilize solidarity actions during the next round of negotiations in early July in sunny San Diego, California.

In solidarity,

Dave Cortez
Sierra Club Lone Star Chapter
TX BlueGreen Apollo Alliance
Ilana Solomon
Sierra Club Labor & Trade Program
Bob Cash
Texas Fair Trade Coalition

(Dallas and Ft. Worth Sierrans stand with officers and staff from CWA District 6 and Local 6215. Credit: Herb Keener)

Gala, Rally and March Videos:

The Yes Men honor US Trade Rep. Ron Kirk
with the “2012 Corporate Power Tool” award:
Ilana Solomon, Sierra Club
Becky Moeller, Texas AFLCIO
Brent Taylor, International Brotherhood of Teamsters
Claude Cummings, Jr. and Nancy Hall, Communication Workers of America
Sanya Reid Smith, Third World Network
Judy Lerma, National Nurses United
Parks Stearns, Occupy Dallas
Lori Wallach, Public Citizen/Global Trade Watch
Arthur Stamoulis, Citizens Trade Campaign
Thanks to all our rally sponsors who worked so hard to make this a successful event: Austin Central Labor Council, Citizens Trade Campaign, Code Pink, Communications Workers of America District 6 and Local 6215, Dallas AFL-CIO Council, Dallas Peace Center, Friends of the Earth, International Association of Machinists, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and IBEW Local 20, Elevator Constructors Local 21 International Brotherhood of Teamsters and Local 745, MoveOn.org Dallas, National Family Farm Coalition, National Nurses United -Texas,  North Texas Jobs with Justice, Occupy Austin, Occupy Dallas, Occupy Texas, OPEIU,  Public Citizen, Lone Star and National Sierra Club, Texas AFL-CIO, Texas Campaign for the Environment, Texas State Building Trades Council, United Steelworkers, United Auto Workers,  United Students Against Sweatshops, Welcoming Immigrants Network and many others.

Dave Cortez
Texas BlueGreen Apollo Alliance
512-477-6195 (office)
Twitter: @TXBlueGreen
David.Cortez (at) SierraClub.org
Check out our green jobs plan for Texas: The Texas BlueGreen Apollo Program
And a National, 21st Century jobs plan: 
Jobs21! – Good Jobs for the 21st Century 

Hill Country River Rats Taking On a Whole New Storm in 2012

When getting ready for a river trip to New Braunfels this summer make sure you leave a few things off your checklist, starting with beverage cans and cups. The most recent controversial splash in New Braunfels, forty-five miles south of Austin, has been the ban of disposable containers on the Comal and Guadalupe rivers within the city limits. Last November, supporters and residents in New Braunfels passed the disposable container ban, with 58 percent of the votes in favor of the ban. Since then, there have been many issues stirring around with both sides making strong valid points and accusations.

In certain parts, there are mounds of garbage covering the bottom of the Comal River in New Braunfels.

The German influenced city, New Braunfels, has attracted millions of tourists over the past decades. With cold-water springs flowing through the city, and home to one of the most renowned waterparks in the country, New Braunfels is an ideal place to visit during the sizzling Texas summers. With that being said, many locals have become fed up with all the trash and garbage that a lot of the tourists and irresponsible residents leave behind.  Many people in the community have always pointed out that all the accumulated trash in the rivers could potentially put their sources of drinking water as well as habitats for endangered species in jeopardy. It just took the city some time, but New Braunfels finally put their foot down and addressed this issue and is now taking steps to project their community for future generations.

Something had to be done in order to eliminate the amount of garbage in the Comal and Guadalupe rivers.

On the other side of the spectrum, the disposable container ban has put fire in some people’s eyes. By taking away their rights to have canned and cupped beverages in the river, people feel like the city is also taking away from their river experience. Many people are also claiming that the ban is in place to indirectly attempt to eliminate alcohol on the river, which the city attempted and failed to do in 2000. Another large drawback people have with the disposable container ban is the economic effect that will come with it. River tourism is a huge portion of the cities earnings and if people decide to take their money elsewhere, New Braunfels could take a big hit. According to sources, if the ban even spooks off just five percent of the cities’ river rafters, businesses in the area could lose about $20 million this year.

There are still mixed opinions about the ban.

Ever though the ban was passed last November, the battle seems to have just begun. Bryan Miranda, New Braunfels city councilman, will be headlining a recall election next month in result of voters signing a petition to remove him from office. The petitioners needed only 150 signatures and wound up with a whopping 279. On top of that, a handful of residents and businessman are suing the Texas Land Commissioner as well as the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for managing municipal solid waste in an illegal manner. It appears like it’s been a rough ride on where to draw the line with this issue. Nonetheless, something had to be done in order to preserve nature and keeping it intact for generations to come.  Hopefully both sides can come together and see eye to eye in the mere future.

Related Links : One can ban backer will face recall, Container ban on river passes, Comal River tubing, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Guadalupe River Clean-up Page

– Jarred Garza, Sierra Club Intern

Going Green, Literally?

With today marking the eve of St. Patrick’s Day, its time to dig through your drawers and pull out your green attire in celebration of the holiday, but also to avoid those pinchers on the prowl. To me, St. Patrick’s Day is one of those holidays that’s clearly not on the same tier as Christmas, Thanksgiving, or even Halloween but more of a day that is excusable to sit back and enjoy the televised parades or reach for that Jameson or Bailey’s bottle and enjoy a drink or three. On the other hand, I know people with Irish blood pumping through their veins will disagree and say that there’s a lot more to it. Each year, March 17th strikes the day of celebration of Saint Patrick, who many centuries ago brought Christianity to the Emerald Isle, also known as Ireland. It’s said to be told that St. Patrick used the shamrock to break down the Christian fundamentals of the Holy Trinity. The Holy Trinity, which refers to the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. One of the largest celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day in our home country is taken place in Chicago, Illinois. As a matter of fact, every Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day the city dyes the Chicago River green, which many decades ago was fused from an environmental issue.

The Chicago River is dyed green every Saturday before St. Patrick's Day.

Up until the 1960’s, all the industrial garbage the Windy City had produced over the years heavily polluted the Chicago River. Eventually, environmentalist put their foot down and got the city to pass pollution regulations protecting the river.  A man named Steve Bailey was one of the business managers of the Plumbers Local Union for Chicago at this time. Bailey, nonetheless, was also a voice for the St. Patrick’s Day plans for the city.One day in late 1961, a plumber walked into Bailey’s office with splashes of green all over his overalls. Amused and curious about these green stains, Bailey was eager to hear the story behind it.  As it turned out, the stains were from dye that had been put into waste lines to see whether or not buildings were still dumping out into the river. In other words, the plumber placed the dye into these building’s waste systems and observed near the end of the river for the emerald green dye in the water. It was suddenly then when a tradition had been born.

The White House fountains were also dyed green last year. The idea came from Chicago native, Michelle Obama.

Over the years, people have made pushes to make the dye substance more environmentally friendly.  They now use vegetable dye instead of the original outdated fluorescein dye that was also used during WWII to find soldiers in the ocean after their plane had been shot down. Water pollution issues in the U.S. have been addressed for over fifty years and in certain cases can indirectly aid other causes such as St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago. Here’s to a wonderful and safe St. Patrick’s Day, cheers.

Related Links : 2012 Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade, St. Patrick’s Day history, St. Patrick’s Day clothing, Chemistry World Blog, The City of Chicago’s Official Tourism Site, Dying of The River

– Jarred Garza, Beyond Coal Sierra Intern

Sierra Club, Public Citizen, and SEED Welcome Phase-out of Luminant Coal Units in Northeast Texas

Sierra Club, Public Citizen, and the SEED Coalition welcomed the announcement today by TXU-Luminant that it will phase out two units at its coal-burning power plants and cease lignite coal mining at its Monticello Plant in northeast Texas.

“The announcement by Luminant today is a victory for all Texans who care about clean air. Coal-fired electricity is the primary source of toxic mercury pollution and is a leading trigger of asthma attacks. Children, the elderly, and anyone with respiratory illness are especially vulnerable to air pollution emitted from coal-fired power plants,” said Eva Hernandez with Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign in Texas. 

Karen Hadden of SEED coalition adds, “Monticello is one of the worst units for mercury pollution in the nation. Mercury pollution results in brain damage to children.”

Luminant’s announcement can largely be tied to poor financial management according to a report released in March 2011 from analyst Tom Sanzillo demonstrated Luminant’s poor financial management of the Monticello, Big Brown, and Martin Lake merchant coal plants . The report can be found here.

The Sierra Club, Public Citizen, and the SEED Coalition call on Luminant to follow the examples of other rational coal plant phase outs around the country and to protect workers and support clean energy reinvestment.

In March, Tennessee Valley Authority announced that it would phase out 18 units at its coal-fired power plants in the Southeast. This victory for clean air could be achieved, TVA said, while retraining workers for clean energy jobs or transferring them to other facilities. San Antonio’s CPS Energy announced the retirement of the Deely Coal while committing to retrain the workers for clean energy jobs or transferring them to other facilities.  The transition to clean energy in San Antonio will create between 800 and 1,000 local, clean energy jobs.

“Luminant’s actions are a good first step, but fail to get to the real issue. Even with low-sulfur Western coal, the emissions from the Big Brown plant are some of the highest in the state” said Tom “Smitty” Smith with Texas Public Citizen.  “Luminant needs to develop a long term plan for retiring Big Brown in addition to its temporary idling of units at Monticello.”

#  #  #

Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign counts 97 coal plants retired or committed to phasing out since the beginning of 2010. Those 97 coal plants represent 33,000 megawatts of dirty energy, or almost 10% of the coal power in the country.

Contact:  Eva Hernandez, 512-299-1550, Tom ‘Smitty’ Smith, 512-797-8468

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Your Congressperson is in Town- Time for a Visit

Congress is officially in recess. Most members go to their home districts and host town halls, local meet-ups, “constituent coffees”, and attend local events.

You can find your representative by going here: http://www.house.gov/

In the top right hand corner, fill in your zipcode. When it shows you your representative, click on the little computer icon to go to their website. Search their website for a calendar of local events.

We’re looking for people to be a part of Sierra Club contingents to these events to stand up for clean air and clean water. If you’re interested, email Flavia at flavia.delafuente@sierraclub.org and I’ll get you started.

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