December has been a big month for energy efficient buildings in Texas. First, after nearly two years of deliberation, San Antonio is poised to be the first city in Texas to adopt the most up to date building energy codes. Second, the state’s analysis of the 2015 codes resulted in an official recommendation to the new Comptroller (Glenn Hegar) to adopt the 2015 codes for the whole state. Fun fact: the State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) received approximately 1,750 supportive comments from Sierra Club members and supporters. That was 75% of all the comments SECO received. Your effort gave SECO crucial support! Well done and thanks!
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Shortly before midnight, Austin City Council passed a historic generation plan that would affordably achieve 55% renewable energy for the city by 2025, and rid it of its oldest dirtiest fossil fuel plants. Sierra Club and many other organizations worked tirelessly through the day and night to improve this plan and see it pass. Below is our press release. Obviously, we'll have much more to share soon, so stay tuned!
Utility officials presented an updated proposal for the 2025 Austin Resource Generation Plan at the Council Committee on Austin Energy at City Hall today. The plan discussed before City Council today will, if approved, make historic commitments to solar power and other forms of renewable energy, increase Austin’s commitments to energy efficiency and demand response, begin investments in energy storage, and phase out the city’s oldest and most polluting fossil fuel plants -- the Decker natural gas plant and Fayette coal plant.
As a kid, I remember ozone being a good thing. There was a layer of it in the stratosphere that protected us from the sun’s ultraviolet rays, but it was being destroyed by our use of chlorofluorocarbons like those found in aerosol sprays (remember aerosol deodorants?). But ozone*, a molecule of three oxygen atoms, is quite harmful to humans at ground level, which is why the Clean Air Act requires the EPA to set limits on it.
Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a new smog pollution proposal to lower the current 75 parts per billion (ppb) standard to one in the range of 65 ppb to 70 ppb, while also seeking comment on setting it as low as 60 ppb. The standard was last updated in 2008 when the Bush administration rejected the recommendations of expert scientists and medical health professionals, who warned 75 ppb was insufficient to protect public health and would leave too many Americans in harm’s way.
By Sarah Sharif: I recently travelled to Washington, DC, along with volunteers from Arkansas and Texas to pay a visit to Janet McCabe, Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation, at the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) headquarters. We met with her and her staff on November 26 to discuss the importance of a strong haze rule to protect our national parks and refuges and to submit 9,000 locals voicing their concern.
Wouldn't it be great to launch a new tradition called "High Five Friday"? Let's get it going! Yesterday, the Lone Star Chapter received the Outstanding Non-Profit Organization Award at CATEE 2014. Cyrus Reed and several DFW-area Sierra Club leaders were on hand at the CATEE conference in Dallas to accept the award presented by the Energy Systems Laboratory of Texas A&M University. Let me fill in some details.
Last week, the San Antonio City Council unanimously voted to move forward with the Vista Ridge Project that plans to bring 50,000 acre-feet of groundwater from Burleson County to the city. Because of our many concerns with this project, the vote was a disappointment, but last Thursday’s Council deliberation did stir some positives worth discussing.
Without a doubt, the best environmental news from Tuesday's election in Texas was the City of Denton voting to ban new fracking in the city. The proposition passed by roughly 17%, with 58.64% voting yes and 41.36% voting no. Predictably, however, almost immediately after the vote, pro-fracking interests moved to try to stop it in what marks the next great battle in the struggle over a city's right to protect its citizens.
Residents in Denton, a town situated on top of the lucrative geological formation known as the Barnett Shale, will decide on Tuesday whether to ban new fracking within their city. The ban would be the first of its kind in Texas and a big challenge to the status quo in a state where oil and gas are still king. Many eyes are on Denton this week in anticipation of the outcome of this exciting election.