The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency began public hearings this week in North Carolina to consider whether to lower the national health standard on ground-level ozone. Formed on hot sunny days by emissions of volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxide emissions– primarily resulting from the burning of fossil fuels in power plants, cars and industry – ground-level ozone directly impacts lung function and can lead to asthma, bronchitis, early death and a host of other health-related illnesses. Particularly at risk are the very young, the very old and those with preexisting health conditions.
This week, the Austin City Council officially named 7 of the 9 members of the Austin Generation and Resource Planning Task Force, while the Electric Utility Commission named their member, solar advocate and local attorney Clay Butler. Remaining to be named is a member of the Resource Management Commission, which is expected to meet on April 15th to choose their member. Word on the street is the first meeting of the new Task Force will be April 16th. Task force is expected to make final recommendations on Austin Energy’s Generaton Plan through 2024 in June. Sierra Club will be on the committee through our Lone Star Chapter Conservation Director Cyrus Reed, who served on the original task force in 2010. The Task Force will look at future of solar, wind, energy efficiency, gas and coal in Austin’s generation portfolio.
Environmental and social justice advocates around the state were stunned following the results of the March 4th primary when State Representative Lon Burnam lost to his opponent by just 111 votes. Rep. Burnam, a 16-year veteran of the Texas House, has been a stalwart supporter of the environmental movement throughout his tenure in politics.
Last November Texas voters overwhelming approved Proposition 6 – a proposed state constitutional amendment that created a new state water fund for water projects in the state water plan. Approval of “Prop 6” indirectly transferred $2 billion from the state’s “rainy day” fund into this new State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT) to provide water for “non-rainy” days.
A new report from ACEEE — American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy — found that energy efficiency is the nation’s cheapest resource. The non-profit institute looked at utility energy efficiency programs in a variety of states over a variety of years and found costs were a fraction of the energy costs for generation. Below is the press release. We will be digging in to some more specific Texas numbers in future blogs.
Two important documentaries premiered at the SXSW film conference this month in Austin, highlighting two headline-grabbing, environmental stories that have impacted Texas in the last several years.
The Texas Chapter of the Population Media Center is hosting a statewide call tomorrow for activists to discuss population growth and the environment. Anyone is welcome to join. Tomorrow's guest speaker will be Sierra Club's own Kim Lovell.