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July 2014 Newsletter

Plavidal: The Big Bend of Texas: The Last Frontier for Shale Gas in Texas?

As fracking continues to spread to new areas of Texas, local citizens are concerned about its environmental impact and the effect it has on the small town way of life. Big Bend area Sierran Kay Plavidal gives a moving account of how Big Bend/Alpine could soon be on the verge of losing its beauty, uniqueness, and endangering its water supplies. But citizens are organizing themselves.

Austin Energy Generation Task Force Approves Ambitious Plan: An Insider’s View

On Wednesday, July 9, after a three-hour meeting, the Austin Energy Generation & Resource Planning Task Force approved its final report that lays out ambitious goals for Austin Energy over the next 15 years. As a member of both this task force and its 2009 predecessor, I can state the plan is ambitious and I support it. If approved, it should make Austin Energy one of the cleanest and most efficient utilities in the United States.

It’s time for 2014 Chapter Awards Nominations!

Each year the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club recognizes its hardworking volunteers and other individuals with special awards to show its appreciation for their contribution of time, effort and resources. The Awards Committee is seeking your assistance in selecting those individuals who, on the Group or Chapter Level, have excelled in some administrative, conservation, outings, or media capacity and deserve this special recognition.

SECO Set to Consider Adopting More Efficient Building Codes

**Update - August 4:The Lone Star Chapter has submitted its formal comments on updating the state energy codes. To read them, click here.** The State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) has asked the public for input on whether or not they should raise the state’s minimum energy code for new buildings. As a subset of building codes, energy codes are minimum requirements for how energy efficient a new building must be. Aspects such as design, technologies, and construction practices determine a building’s energy efficiency.

Regional Round-up

The Sierra Club has created a new national award that bears the name of Dr. Robert Bullard, Dean of the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University in Houston and one of the founders of the environmental justice movement. The new award will be given annually to an individual or group that has done outstanding work in the area of environmental justice.The first Robert Bullard Environmental Justice Award will be presented Nov. 21 along with the Sierra Club’s other 2014 awards.

Message From Director Scheleen Walker

As you can see, there’s no summer slow down at the Sierra Club! I continue to be amazed at the tenacity of our members, volunteers and staff as we work on important issues of water conservation, renewable energy, wildlife protections, and public lands. I am especially excited to see our chapter build stronger relationships with labor, social justice, and other organizations, such as our work with the Communication Workers of America and Texas State Employees’ Union to get opposition to the harmful Trans-Pacific Partnership added to the Texas Democratic Party platform at this year’s convention.

Here in Austin, we are gratified to be part of another new collaborative effort called the Austin for All Coalition – a broad coalition of progressive organizations coming together to show united support for policies to make Austin more racially, socially and economically inclusive. When we support each other, we all grow stronger. I look forward to working with all of our members on new collaborative efforts around the state in the months and years to come. Stay tuned!

Peace,

Scheleen Walker, Director
Lone Star Chapter

Herweck: Inviting Industrial Pollution to the Rio Grande Valley

The Lower Rio Grande Valley Sierra Club ran the numbers, and the four proposed Brownsville LNG export terminals will produce as much nitrogen oxides annually as all the vehicles on the road in Cameron County. Find out what other pollutants the natural gas export facilities could bring to the Valley in this column by Sierran Stefanie Herweck.