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Texas Green Report

  • Clean Air Act Success in Texas: Ozone Milestones with Neil Carman

    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.

    One of the most persistent and pervasive public health threats from air pollution, particularly for children in urban communities, is ozone (aka “smog”) because ozone is the prime ingredient with other noxious chemicals. Ozone is one of the leading causes of asthma and other respiratory distress, with both short and long term health problems from breathing unhealthy air at concentrations as low as 40 to 60 parts per billion (ppb). Yet some of our communities in Texas get smog pollution over 100 ppb – nearly twice the levels deemed safe by medical experts.

  • Hazy Shade of Summer

    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.

  • High Five Friday: Lone Star Chapter Wins CATEE Award!

    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.

  • TLW: Next Steps for San Antonio’s Vista Ridge Project

    Photo: ©

    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.

  • Update on Denton Fracking Ban: A Community Organizing Success Story

    Photo: Jake Dean

    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.

  • Detelich: A Primer on the Denton Fracking Ban Vote

    Photo: Al Braden

    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.

  • ERCOT Finally Values Wind Peak Capacity Using Actual Data

    For the last five years, the Sierra Club has been in a healthy discussion at ERCOT (Electric Reliable Council of Texas) and the Public Utility Commission of Texas over how to calculate the value of wind energy during peak demand. Opponents of wind still use an antiquated yet lingering criticism that it tends to generate electricity mostly at night and not when Texas needs it the most – on hot summer afternoons. The state’s grid operator just assumed all wind generation had the same value at peak. Thanks in part to our efforts this isn’t the case anymore.

  • UPDATE on Vista Ridge

    [Oct. 30] Today, after more than four hours of citizen testimony, San Antonio City Council approved a contract between SAWS and Abengoa, a Spanish developer, to develop the 140-mile Vista Ridge water pipeline project. Despite hearing from a plethora of opposition voices both from San Antonio and from the area where the groundwater will be mined, such as Lee County (includes Burleson and Bastrop Counties as well), Council voted unanimously to move into the “development” phase of the project.

  • Welcome Mayté Salazar and Tane Ward to the Texas Team!

    Recently, the Sierra Club welcomed the arrival of two great new staff members to work in our Austin office. Mayté (like My-tay) Salazar, who helped to establish a low-income advisory task force in Austin, is now an Apprentice with the Beyond Coal Campaign. Dr. Tane Ward, a long time Indigenous Rights activist who has worked extensively with community groups in Austin for more than ten years, is the new Organizing Manager for the Beyond Coal Campaign in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

  • Once a Leader, Texas Now Ranks 34th in Energy Efficiency

    The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy – or ACEEE (“A-C-Triple E”) for short – unveiled the 8th edition of its State Efficiency Scorecard this week, and once again, Texas languishes far back in the pack with other under-performing states on its energy efficiency policies and outcomes. Falling one position from 2013, Texas ranked 34th out of 51 (DC included) states in the annual ranking of the progress of state energy efficiency policies and programs. Can our state be a leader again? Short answer: heck yeah!