Today, passing on consent, Austin City Council directed Austin Energy to immediately begin negotiations with the Lower Colorado River Authority for better operational control of Austin’s share of the coal-fired Fayette Power Project, the fifth largest emitter of climate-disrupting carbon dioxide pollution in the entire state of Texas.
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As the next legislative session approaches, the battle lines of agency budgets are being drawn by the Legislative Budget Board. Each agency submits a Legislation Appropriations Request, or LAR, which asks the Legislature for funding for 2016-2017. The Lone Star Chapter recently submitted comments supporting specific funding for the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department for local park grants, wildlife diversity, park acquisition and development and invasive species control.
When I heard about the anti-renewables report that the Texas Comptroller, Susan Combs, published on September 23, I thought it might be a long and arduous read, well supplied with solid facts, figures, and a methodology only energy geeks would salivate over to criticize. After all, it’s the Comptroller’s Office, right? You’d expect a solidly-researched report replete with thorough analyses based on solid data. It’s nothing like that. It’s 16 pages comprised almost entirely of bullet points and infographics that a staffer with an agenda would find all-too-easy to pluck out of context for his/her boss to use against renewables during the next session.
For those who are keeping track, we are in year 4 of a statewide drought. Although some areas have received rainfall relief, the continuing drought has led many communities to ponder whether they have enough water for their future and, if not, where more water can be procured. Unfortunately, new water isn’t something that can easily be bought or delivered. It’s expensive, the infrastructure is lacking and the locals often don’t want it exported away from their region.
Texas regulators still have a long way to go to protect Texans from the dangers of oil and gas development exacerbated by the dramatic rise of fracking. Earlier this week, ShaleTest, an independent environmental research agency, released a report that found unsafe levels of cancer-causing benzene, a common byproduct in oil and gas drilling operations, on playgrounds in the City of Denton, among other places. To read the full report and the release, click here. Meanwhile, the Railroad Commission has only begun to take limited action to address earthquakes caused by injecting waste from oil and gas operations into wells.
Wow. Just wow. Unless you had turned off all electronic devices and spent September 21 in the beautiful wilderness, you probably heard something about the People’s Climate March. More than 25,000 Sierra Club members, volunteers, and leaders participated in the event in New York, joining tens of thousands of other marchers representing religious, labor, youth, environmental, and civil rights organizations. It has been called the largest march in climate change history! But the action was not confined to the streets of New York. Hundreds of supporters marched in solidarity events all across Texas. [Updated 4:00pm, 9/29]
While most media surrounding the official opening of San Antonio’s new solar panel manufacturing facility deservedly focused on its great economic impact and the city’s dedication to becoming a clean energy hub, solar industry publications picked up on another positive aspect. This facility is part of a growing global trend toward a more efficient type of solar panel. Mission Solar Energy’s new facility will produce “n-type” PV panels, which are more efficient than the more common “p-type” PV panels in widespread use today.
By Mayte Salazar-Ordonez, Sierra Club w/ contributions from Dave Cortez
All across the nation and the world tens of thousands of people are taking to the streets to greet world leaders at a gathering of the United Nations and to demand strong action on climate change. From flooding in Pakistan and Colorado to record superstorms in Indonesia and NYC, citizens are mobilizing to speak out as if in an escalating war against the polluters largely responsible for our rapidly changing climate, for polluting our communities with toxic chemicals, and for holding our economy hostage to a system built on extracted minerals and fossil fuels.
[Originally posted in TribTalk, Sept. 16, 2014] Texas women have suffered major setbacks to their reproductive health and rights this year. At the federal level, the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision has made it more difficult for women to access their contraceptive method of choice. At the state level, the Legislature and Gov. Rick Perry have enacted new restrictions on clinics providing basic women’s health care and family planning services.
No one can dispute the rapid rise of wind power in Texas, which is expected to become the third largest source of electricity in Texas this year. From rather humble beginnings in the late 1990s, the wind industry in Texas has grown at an outstanding rate over the last five years, and generated 9.9% of the electricity in the ERCOT market, which covers most of Texas (see chart). In 2014, to date, wind has produced more electricity than nuclear power, according to ERCOT’s Electricity and Demand Report, in which wind produced 22.5 million MWh compared to 22.3 million MWh for nuclear power. Is solar next?