Archive for October, 2009
Posted in Coal, Global Warming, tagged alpine, Austin, beaumont, bike ride, clean air, corpus christi, dallas, green jobs, halloween, Public Citizen, quit coal, roll beyond coal, Sierra Club, Texas on October 29, 2009 | 1 Comment »
Texans Concerned about Clean Air and Building the new Green Jobs Economy ROLL BEYOND COAL across Texas this Halloween — Fun Events on Saturday, October 31
WHO: Public Officials, Businesses, Sierra Club and their Environmental Partners such as Public Citizen, and Bicycling Communities across Texas
WHAT: Roll Beyond Coal Rallies, Bike Rides, & Hikes for Clean Power, Green Jobs, & Clean Air
WHEN: Saturday, October 31, 2009
ALPINE 10 am, Kokernot Lodge, 1104 Loop Road, http://texas.sierraclub.org/bigbend/index.html
AUSTIN 1:00 Music and Rally on the Plaza at City Hall, Lavaca & W. Cesar Chavez. 2:00 Clean Energy Bike Tour (5 and 9 mile options) and Hikes. 3:00 – 5:00 After Party at Gingerman Pub, 301 Lavaca Street. http://www.texas.sierraclub.org/austin
BEAUMONT 8:00 am in the Colonnade Shopping Center at Dowlen Road & Phelan Blvd. We will offer a 7.3 mile route or you can choose the extended 14.1 mile route. http://texas.sierraclub.org/triangle/index.html
CORPUS CHRISTI Noon – 1:00 PM Registration, 1:00 Festival, 1:30 Bike fun ride begins (observe all traffic signs and signals), 1:35 PM Rollers and Strollers roll, 2:30-4:00 Rally http://www.cleaneconomycoalition.org/rbc
DALLAS Registration: 8:30 am. Bike ride: 10:30 am. White Rock Lake at The Bath House Cultural Center on 521 E. Lawther Drive in Dallas. Prizes to be given for the best Halloween and Clean Air costumes! Free Basic Bike Check-ups on site. http://www.dallassierraclub.org/
WHY: Public officials, Sierra Club activists, their environmental partners, and bicycling communities across Texas are bringing to light the serious problem of the second wave of the Texas Coal Rush.
In Rallies to Roll Beyond Coal and Clean Energy Bike Rides, and Hikes, Texans concerned about clean air and building a new green, clean energy economy are asking the EPA to take bold action by intervening on that freaky, frightening Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).
There will be costumed riders and plenty of information about the current Second Wave of the Texas coal rush which is cresting this winter with 11 new coal plants in various stages of the permitting process, permitted, under construction, or coming on line. Texans from diverse walks of life are rallying at Roll Beyond Coal events for Halloween fun with a seriously scary message! There is a glimmer of hope in this tale!
Posted in Nuclear, tagged alternative energy, bartley, citizen involvement, City Council, cost increase, CPS Energy, nuclear bonds, Public Citizen, San Antonio, san antonio current, san antonio express news, SEED Coalition, South Texas Project, STP, Texas, Tom "Smitty" Smith, toshiba on October 28, 2009 | 6 Comments »
With just two days before San Antonio City Council was to vote to approve $400 million in bonds to move forward with the South Texas Nuclear Project two reactor expansion, officials announced yesterday that the cost estimate for the project had ballooned by up to $4 BILLION. That means that the new price tag on the new reactors, up from $13 Billion, is now a whopping $17 Billion (and don’t forget that even $13 Billion was a big jump from the original cost estimate of $5.4 Billion). As a result, the Council has postponed the vote until January.
This is a huge victory for environmentalists, social justice workers, and citizen activists who have been tirelessly organizing opposition to new nuclear reactors. If these concerned citizens hadn’t gotten involved, the City Council would have voted to approve the bonds a month ago, with no option to renegotiate their contract or pricing. Because citizens got educated and involved, City Council was forced to delay the vote until they had all the information. And the information, as it turns out, is that the cost estimates that groups like Public Citizen and SEED Coalition have been predicting for more than a year (up to $17.5 Billion according to a 2008 study by Arjun Makhijani and as much as $22 Billion according to analyst Clarence Johnson), far from a Cassandra cry, have been right on the money all along.
For all the dirty details, be sure to read the San Antonio Express-News’ breaking article Nuclear cost estimate rises by as much as $4 billion and the San Antonio Current’s blog post Nuke Collider: San Antonio delays $400 million nuke bond vote over Toshiba cost surge. And courtesy of the unstoppable Greg Harman at the Current, check out the following video from the emergency press conference CPS officials and the Mayor’s office held yesterday, a MUST WATCH:
What I find most interesting about this whole mess is that CPS insiders knew a week and a half ago that the costs were up by $4 Billion, but neglected to tell the Mayor or City Council until yesterday. And even then, it didn’t come as a formal announcement — the cat was only let out of the bag because, as the Express-News reports, an aide of the Mayor confronted CPS about rumors of a cost increase.
CPS interim General Manager Steve Bartley said the utility’s main contractor on the project, Toshiba Inc., informed officials that the cost of the reactors would be “substantially greater” than CPS’ estimate of $13 billion, which includes financing.
He said utility officials found out about the increase “within the last week and a half or so.”
But the mayor said he only learned the news Monday night after an aide asked Bartley about rumors of a cost estimate increase.
Castro said he didn’t know whether CPS would have divulged the increase to the council before its vote Thursday had his aide not directly questioned utility management.
“One would hope otherwise, but the evidence seems to suggest that they were less than proactive,” he said.
Sounds like CPS was going to wait until after Thursday’s vote to share their special need-to-know information, and that if it weren’t for those meddling kids they would have gotten away with it too.
Any way you look at it, yesterday’s announcement is fortuitous for the City of San Antonio. Now City Council has a better idea of the real costs they are looking at with the project, and hopefully will think twice about placing their trust in CPS Energy now that they’ve been burned by the utility’s untransparent business practices. With two months time until the vote, City Council now has plenty of time to order an independent study to model various energy scenarios and present a slew of options (besides just “nuclear or nothing”) for San Antonio’s energy future — including a heavy mix of renewable energy and efficiency. An outside study to model alternatives would present City Council with the most cost-effective, least risky, most environmentally sustainable plan possible. CPS claims to have done a ‘thorough’ investigation of these options, but just as they conveniently underestimated the cost of nuclear, they have overestimated the cost of renewable energies such as wind, solar, storage, and energy efficiency to the point of absurdity. With two months to work at it, there is no reason why San Antonio shouldn’t have a green plan to put up against the nuclear plan by January. They nearly voted to approve the project this week without the full range of information. San Antonio City Council can’t put themselves in that situation again.
But don’t take my word for it. Check out the following statements from Tom “Smitty” Smith, director of Public Citizen’s Texas Office and Karen Hadden, director of the SEED Coalition:
Cost Increase of South Texas Project Shows Nuclear Power Is Too Expensive, Too Risky
Statement of Tom “Smitty” Smith, Director, Public Citizen’s Texas Office
We can’t think of any good reasons for the San Antonio City Council to continue with this project when there are far less expensive alternatives readily available. Investing in wind and solar makes much more sense and carries none of the risks – both the extreme financial risk that CPS wants taxpayers to bear and the health and safety risks inherent with nuclear power. If the City Council continues with this project, the average ratepayers will see their utility bills increase by 50 percent.
If San Antonio citizens hadn’t stepped to the plate, the City Council would have voted for the STP a month ago and the city would have been another $400 million in the hole with no option to renegotiate. But citizens got educated and got involved. Their involvement made the City Council delay the vote until they had all the information.
We know the San Antonio City Council is too smart to continue to support this boondoggle. Nuclear power is too expensive and too risky to use. It’s time for the San Antonio City Council to pull the plug on the STP expansion.
Statement of Karen Hadden, executive director, Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition:
We aren’t surprised to hear that the latest cost estimate for the South Texas Project puts the price to build two new nuclear reactors at $17 billion, $4 billion more than what CPS Energy said in June and more than three times the project’s original $5.4 billion price tag. We’ve been saying for two years that CPS has been feeding the public lowball estimates that wouldn’t hold up to reality.
Posted in Coal, tagged austin city council, austin has a dirty secret, austin texas, city hall, Coal, facebook, fayette coal plant, health impacts of coal, quit coal, ryan rittenhouse on October 23, 2009 | 2 Comments »
Many thanks to everyone that made it to the Austin City Council meeting yesterday for an anti-coal demonstration! Twenty five to thirty concerned citizens stood up in City Council chambers, dressed in black to represent the yearly moralities from our Fayette Coal Plant, as Ryan Rittenhouse addressed the Council. Check out the video below for more, and join the facebook group Austin has a Dirty Secret to stay in the loop on future coal actions and demonstrations:
Posted in Global Warming, tagged 10/24/09, 350, 350.org, cap and trade, Carbon Dioxide, climate change, Energy Efficiency, Global Warming, International Day of Climate Action, October 24 2009, Texas, Texas Impact on October 23, 2009 | 1 Comment »
Tomorrow – October 24, 2009 – will be the largest day of climate action in the history of the world, and something you don’t want to miss. If you do not yet have anything planned for 350.org’s International Day of Climate Action, please join one of the 4641 events happening around the world. In 171 countries, people will be marching, planting trees, singing, gathering in museums and churches, throwing Frisbees, flying kites, attending black-tie galas, and more, all in the name of bringing awareness to climate change.
There is a lot of talk about the number 350, which is the “number that leading scientists say is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide—measured in “Parts per Million” in our atmosphere.” On a global level, we have already passed it, but if we work hard we can get back on track. Get out there tomorrow and show Obama that as U.S. citizens, we mean business. The timing could not be more important. With the Climate Change bill being deliberated in Congress and the Copenhagen conference around the corner – now is the time to put pressure on our law makers, and to show the rest of the world that we care.
Checkout the interactive map to find an event near you, and spread the word to all your friends – no matter where they live – there is bound to be an event nearby! Tomorrow, there are almost 50 events taking place in Texas alone, including:
- The Green Parade/350 walk towards the Capitol, at 3:50 PM, starting at the University of Texas tower.
- Poets for climate action at the Audubon Center in San Antonio, from 10am-1pm.
- A Public Forum Discussion, at UT Arlington, from 12pm-2pm.
- The Community Green Festival, in Houston, from 12 pm-6pm.
There are just too many events to list here – so you gotta check out that map! And remember, spread the word to all your friends…everywhere.
If you will be in Houston tomorrow, come join Public Citizen’s Andy Wilson and pastor Brian McLaren at Texas Impact’s Advocacy Camp, a day-long workshop about getting involved not only with climate change, but also issues of immigration and healthcare. (Even though this is sponsored by Texas Impact, Andy promised he won’t preach too much Jesus at you.) We hope to see you there!
Posted in Global Warming, tagged Afghanistan, climate change, climate change legislation, Global Warming, homeland security, national security, operation free, Public Citizen, terrorism, veterans, veterans climate change movement, vets, votevets on October 21, 2009 | Leave a Comment »
You would think that the Veterans of the United States would be mostly outspoken about traditional war issues, such as pulling the troops out of Iraq or sending more of them to Afghanistan, but a few groups of veterans have decided to take a different route. Operation Free is the name of a veterans’ movement that has been touring the country to advocate about climate change and to support the passage of the climate change legislation currently being debated in Congress. They consider climate change a “national security threat” (consider that Homeland Security) and their mission is to “Secure America with Clean Energy.”
Here is a video of the group visiting Washington D.C.
Besides the organization’s concerns about the security of our food, health, and water, they tie a very interesting view on climate change to terrorism. Since climate change makes certain areas of the world inhabitable, the devastated people of such areas will be more prone to be involved with terrorist groups.
“Shifts in climates will result in shifts in populations as certain areas become more and more inhabitable. The bulk of these refugees will be sequestered away in squalid, wretched camps and largely denied education, medical care, and access to the opportunity of the outside world. This environment is for terrorists like a pool of stagnant water is for mosquitoes: a breeding ground.” – Drew Sloan Former Army Captain, Infantry OEF/OIF Veteran
Patrick Bellon, Western Regional Director of another veteran’s organization called VoteVets, told Public Citizen that when the public sees veterans advocating for such an issue it gives it more credibility, “But they are often surprised and curious to see veterans talking about it,” he added. Bellon thinks that the majority of people still can’t fully comprehend the threat of climate change, “when people hear that there will be three degree change in temperature, they don’t understand the impact of that.”
You can visit the VoteVets blog by clicking here
By Kirsten Bokenkamp
Did you know that in the United States, the average person throws away around 100 pounds of food scraps per year? According to the USDA, “just over a quarter of the country’s food — about 25.9 million tons — gets thrown in the garbage can every year.”
But food is biodegradable, and decomposes in the same manner no matter where we throw it out, right? Wrong. While we should all try to throw away less food, composting what we do toss-out reduces the impact on the environment.
Any food scraps or leftovers that the dog doesn’t eat decompose in one of two ways. Due to the airtight nature of landfills, the food we throw away with the rest of our trash decomposes in an anaerobic manner (without oxygen). One of the bi-products from anaerobic decomposition is methane, which is a stronger greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. In the first 120 days in a landfill, every metric ton of food can generate .25 metric tons of methane. On the other hand, food that decomposes aerobically (with oxygen) in a compost pile generates carbon dioxide – which is 25 times less potent than methane. If the U.S. composted the 25.9 million tons of food we throw out each year, the effect would be as if we removed 7.8 million cars from the road!
Because oxygen is the golden ingredient, it is important to allow air to get to your compost through the use of a functionally designed container, through turning your compost, or by using worms as a way to ensure oxygen can do its job. Read more about the basics of composting here.
According to the Composting Council the largest benefit from composting is avoiding the production of methane. But, the benefits don’t stop there. When compost is used in agricultural practices :
• Irrigation needs decreases by 30-70%, due to improved water retention in soil;
• Fertilizer (expensive, and often harmful to the environment) needs decrease by 33-66%;
• Carbon sequestration of soil increases by 6-40 tons of carbon per hectare.
Okay, so for those of you who live in farmhouses – or at least have a backyard and a small garden – composting seems like an easy and beneficial practice. You barely have an excuse! But, this is more of a challenge for the 80% of us in the US who live in urban areas. Where do we put a compost pile, and what do we do with it? Thankfully, there are a few options.
First, you can do as my cousin Elizabeth does in New York City. She freezes her food waste, and brings it to the Union Square Greenmarket once a week, where a farmer she knows gladly accepts it for the wholesome treasure that it is. Next time you are shopping at your local farmers market – ask around! Similarly, you can find a composter that accepts food waste in your area, where you can drop off your compost.
A second option, especially if you have a bit more room, or any indoor or outdoor plants that will benefit from it, is to start a worm bin. Worms love to eat kitchen scraps, and the nutrient-rich castings they produce are great for soil. There are many resources on vermicomposting – a great one is cityfarmer.org, published by Canada’s office of urban agriculture.
The third way of urban composting, and possibly the most important way towards the institutionalization of urban composting, is to tell your city officials that you live in an apartment, that you want to compost, and that you think it is high time for them to implement a curbside composting program. If you don’t think your city is “green” enough to do such a thing, look for inspiration and practical advice from San Francisco – where starting October 21 , it will be illegal not to compost, or other cities including Seattle, Boulder, and Minneapolis-St Paul.
Finally, if composting at home just isn’t going to happen for you, (at least until your city starts providing curb-side composting), talk your employer into it. For instance, the National Press Club has just started to compost, and plans on preventing 2 tons of food per month from heading to the landfill. Some state facilities such as prisons and universities also compost – for example, the state prison facilities in Nashville composts leftovers, and uses the compost on its own 100-acre vegetable garden, and Iowa State University has a compost system that can handle more than 10,000 tons of waste per year.
As an introduction to next week’s Green-up your life! blog – getting children involved – talk to elementary and high school administrators about starting a community compost project. By throwing away less food, composting the food we do throw away, educating our community members, and getting state institutions involved, we will soon be en route to a true environmental revolution!
Posted in Coal, Energy, tagged asthma, Austin, Austin Energy, austin has a dirty secret, City Council, city of austin, clean air task force, Clean Energy, coal kills, day of the dead, fayette coal plant, health impacts of coal, quit coal, Texas on October 20, 2009 | 1 Comment »
With the Day of the Dead just around the corner, it’s the time of year to remember friends and family members who have died. That’s why we’ve decided to hold a demonstration at City Hall on Thursday at noon, wearing black, to recognize those who have died from complications related to living around the City of Austin’s coal plant.
Burning coal to create electricity has a high human cost. From childhood asthma to aggravated heart and respiratory problems, living downwind of a coal plant can take years off of your life. If you are a six year old or even a strapping adult with asthma and unlucky enough to live near a coal plant to boot, that is enough to send you to the emergency room on a regular basis. Individuals with heart conditions are in the same boat. And mercury emissions from the coal stacks that power our city find their way into waterways and are known to cause birth defects. A recently updated study by the Clean Air Task Force finds that our Fayette Coal Plant causes an average of fifty deaths each year.
City Council must take these considerations into account when planning our future energy mix. Why should others in the state of Texas die or live with crippling health problems when cleaner alternatives exist?
So come to City Hall at noon on Tuesday to show City Council your support for a clean energy plan that would phase out the coal plant as quickly as possible. Wear black in some way, and meet at 11:50 in the lobby so that we can coordinate. Parking at city hall is free on council meeting days. Please RSVP or contact Ryan Rittenhouse at 512-477-1155 with any questions.
Please also spread the word to similarly concerned friends and invite them to the “Austin has a dirty secret” facebook group so that they can be in the loop for future events or demonstrations.
Posted in Campaign Finance, tagged Austin, campaign, gubernatorial election, kay bailey hutchinson, money, profit, Public Citizen, Rick Perry, Texas, volunteers on October 20, 2009 | Leave a Comment »
Do you need some extra cash? Then Rick Perry’s campaign is the place to “volunteer” these days. Governor Rick Perry of Texas is rewarding his volunteers in the governor’s race, not with the usual candidate goods or an opportunity to meet with the candidate, but with flat-out cash. Though not a common practice, paying campaign volunteers is
perfectly legal, as long as all the payments are disclosed in the campaign financial reports. But is it right? Does this type of campaigning encourage people to be more concerned with earning some additional cash than with Perry’s actual political platform?
Perry pays volunteers to sign up 11 other volunteers, who then again sign up to recruit 11 more volunteers, and so forth. Of course, Perry is not guaranteed the votes of the recruits, only their word that they will vote for him. Obviously, Perry’s only goal is to recruit as many voters as possible. But he is also taking a chance by paying his volunteers, because many people will campaign for money incentives, but may not actually vote for him in the primaries. So to encourage the vote, Perry has promised more money to the recruiters who turn out actual voters on Election Day.
But this whole scenario creates a bigger problem: It is very possible that people who are not necessarily usually politically active will now campaign and/or vote for Perry only because they will profit from it, which takes us back to the days of Party Bosses. Under party bosses, people were given money, jobs and other services from politicians essentially buying their votes.
To many people, this is perhaps not a shock coming from Perry, but even the governor’s Republican opponent Kay Bailey Hutchinson has openly criticized Perry’s campaign method. Her spokeswoman Jennifer Baker states: “Typical Rick Perry arrogance, when his failed record can’t earn him support, he’ll just buy it,” adding that Hutchinson’s campaign does not offer money to volunteers.
Ultimately, the problem with paying volunteers is that the process of campaigning, and the incentive for volunteerism and even voting can quickly become more about money than ideology and the meaningful issues at hand. Money for votes, therefore, can ultimately skew the interests of the constituency that the governor will represent. People who are not necessarily usually politically involved will now campaign and vote for Perry only because they will profit from it and not for the real reasons they should be involved in politics, or cast a vote.
Mysteriously, there is no mention of these paid volunteer positions on Rick Perry’s website, but the site states that anyone who signs up as a volunteer will receive “access to inside information.”
By H. Harrison
By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, cleaner cars, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.
Posted in Global Warming, tagged acl 2009, Austin, barr mansion, benefit, citizen sarah, dancing, david garza, fund raiser, Jim Hightower, live music, membership, music, party, Public Citizen, public citizen texas, Rob Weissman, support, Texas, Tom "Smitty" Smith on October 19, 2009 | Leave a Comment »
Did you doubt my magic? Think that we wouldn’t get any music for our 25th anniversary celebration and that you’d have to listen to Citizen Sarah muddle through Oh My Darlin’ on the baby squeezebox?
Lucky for y’all my lovelies, my nightly practice sessions have been for naught (not sure if that will be any consolation to my housemates). We have a headliner. And how! David Garza is going to play our show!
David (that’s DAH-VEED) Garza is a locally grown singer-songwriter who… what’s the word? Rocks. Out. Whoo!
Ohhhhhhh yeahhhhh. It’s gonna be a good time. If you haven’t been to Barr Mansion before, he’ll be playing in the greenhouse — a beautiful old building with a big wooden stage, killer acoustics, and a nice intimate setting with plenty of room for groovin’ and shakin’.
So save the date for November 6th! The show will start around 9, and tickets are just $19.84 in advance (since Public Citizen was founded in 1984, natch) or $25 at the door. We’ll have a bar set up for the beer of your choice.
If you’re feeling fancy, you’re also welcome to the dinner that we’ll hold before hand from 6-9. That will start out with a brief schmoozefest and cocktail hour, and then we’ll move in for dinner, speeches, and an awards ceremony for recipients of our Texas Outstanding Public Servant (TOPS) awards. Local dignitary and America’s #1 populist Jim Hightower will emcee, and you’ll also have a chance to meet our new Public Citizen president Rob Weissman. Dinner tickets are $75 per person or $125 for a couple and can be purchased at www.citizen.org/TXRSVP (tickets to David are included in that, you won’t have to buy an extra).
Posted in Uncategorized, tagged Barnett shale, bay area houston, buffalo bayou, cameron todd willingham, college station, couldbetrue, drilling reform, Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, eye on williamson, governor perry, homelessness, houston, human rights, kay bailey hutchison, kbh, libby shaw, mean rachel, off the kuff, Public Citizen, refinish69, south texas, south texas chisme, texas cloverleaf, texas liberal, texas progressive alliance, texas vox, tort reform, trans-texas corridor, transportation, ttc, white oak bayou on October 19, 2009 | Leave a Comment »
The Texas Progressive Alliance celebrates the start of early voting for the 2009 elections with its always on time weekly blog roundup.
Human tragedies are mounting in the Barnett Shale as study after study shows high levels of toxins in the air. The only ones who can’t seem to find anything wrong are the regulators. TXsharon asks, “Will the EPA intervene in Texas?” at Bluedaze: DRILLING REFORM FOR TEXAS.
Why did the US forcibly detain a Mexican human rights advocate? CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wants to know.
WCNews at Eye On Williamson states that no matter what you hear Transportation schemes are continuing, despite “death” of the TTC. EOW also had a guest post this week on the PEC, Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC): Who’s Electing Your Board Representative?.
“Other big names” may enter the Republican primary for governor if Perry and Hutchison can’t get their acts together, according to a right-wing talker in D-FW and passed along by PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.
We have known for a long time that Governor Perry is a bottom feeder, but letting an innocent man die and then refusing to get at the truth about his execution? Well, I would not want that on my conscience. Let Libby Shaw bring you up to speed in his posting, All the Good Hair on the Planet Won’t Make the Cover Up Go Away.
Neil at Texas Liberal ran a picture he took this week of the confluence on White Oak Bayou and Buffalo Bayou in Downtown Houston. This spot, important in the founding of Houston, is still a place of connection. If connection could be found in the hot and Hell-like Houston of 175 years ago, we can find connection even in tough circumstances.
Posted in Coal, Energy, Global Warming, Renewables, tagged banks, Carbon Dioxide, Coal, coal plant, corporate responsibility, Energy, Peabody Energy, Rainforest action network, renewable energy, World Bank on October 15, 2009 | 1 Comment »
Take a quick look at this article/video. After the showing of a comedic political documentary, a speech is made about mountain-top removal mining and its ill effects. The crowd of enthusiastic movie-goers then canvasses the sidewalks of a nearby JP Morgan Chase bank with coal graffiti. It brings up an interesting point about who’s surreptitiously lurking behind the companies that deal with coal. In a word, banks.
Let’s reflect for a bit on the role of banks in (or rather behind) coal-related issues. For starters, it’s a tricky situation because the banks don’t actually do any of the polluting or emitting, they merely finance it:
One could take one of two extreme standpoints on the environmental impact of banks’ products. On the one hand, all pollution caused by companies who are financed by banks is the responsibility of banks. It is easy to make an estimate of the environmental impact in this sense: it would equate to almost the aggregate pollution of the whole economy in many countries. On the other hand, as the products of banks do not pollute, the users of those products—the clients—should take sole responsibility for the pollution they create. Of course, both standpoints are absurd. The truth lies somewhere in the middle
(taken from a paper on sustainable banking).
As usual, it’s that middle ground which is very hard to find in the real world.
The Rainforest Action Network has put together a very informative pamphlet concerning banks (particularly Citi and Bank of America) and their relationship to coal in the US. Here are just a few numbers taken from this publication:
- There are about 150 proposed coal-fired power plant sites in the US currently, with an estimated price-tag of approximately 140 billion dollars for the lot. This might be considered another ‘coal rush,’ and someone will have to finance all of this. You might think of this as adding 100-180 million passenger cars to US roads.
- Citi and Bank of America have both been major financiers of Peabody Energy, the world’s largest coal mining company. Peabody has been involved in mining coal on the Black Mesa (Hopi Indian community land), where they have drained millions of gallons of water from the sole aquifer in the area and left behind a 273-mile coal slurry pipeline.
- Both banks have also underwritten numerous loans for other coal mining companies including Massey Energy, Arch Coal, and Alpha Natural Resources. Each of these companies is involved in mountaintop removal, a particularly destructive form of coal mining.
The World Bank is not setting a very good example, either. The Bank has acknowledged that the developing world should not become locked into the same carbon-intensive infrastructure of the West, yet it still intends to help fund coal-fired power plants in several developing nations. It’s a hard line to walk, that between developmental and environmental issues, however there are more sustainable alternatives available and with the right planning and finance, these could become a reality.
But let’s step away from the blame game. No matter who is the most responsible – the bank or the polluter – the fact is that banks, with their abundant resources, should be clever and forward-thinking enough to see the non-sustainability of coal as an investment. Conversely, there abound investment opportunities in clean, sustainable energy. For example, Lord Browne, former head of BP, has urged the British government to direct government-controlled bank investment into renewable energy resources, such as offshore wind power. Germany has been a leader in sustainable energy investment; look at this report from the Deutsche Bank. In the US there have been proposals for a Green Bank which would, among many other things, help to drive much-needed capital investment into clean-energy technologies and infrastructure.
This isn’t just green tomfoolery, it could be money in the bank (literally).
Posted in Global Warming, tagged blog action day, climate change, coffee muses, french lique, Global Warming, google, huffington post, only in it for the gold, Public Citizen, texas cloverleaf, texas vox, think progress, this life in austin on October 15, 2009 | 5 Comments »
It is blog action day! In case you don’t know, on this day, 15th of October of every year, bloggers from all over the world unite in writing about a common important issue. It started in 2007 by Collis & Cyan Ta’eed. Their first year, they recruited as many as 20,000 bloggers to write about the same issue which was the Environment for that year. It was a great success.
If you are a blogger and don’t think that you can’t be heard, you are mistaken. This year, we are united in writing about Climate Change. Don’t have qualms about it. If you don’t know much about the issue, it is 2009 and researching on google is more than easy.
So, get off the couch, log in to your blog and make you voice be heard, or read. Some of the participants of Blog Action Day are entities such as Google, Huffington Post, and Think Progress
Here are also a couple of local blogs that have to contributed “something to make this world a better place for the generations to come” as nicely put Dixie’s French Lique.
Living in the deep south of the United States on the coastal plain of Texas just a few miles from the Gulf of Mexico, keeps you watching the weather with a more than casual eye. Changes in weather patterns, whether natural or manmade, can and will have devastating consequences. As last year showed in the southeastern US and this year has shown in southern Texas, shifts in rainfall patterns cause rapid loss of crops and livestock. The economic and social disruption these losses cause, trickle throughout the economy.
…Many people seem to believe that the whole climate change crisis is a hoax. The science is said to be fixed. It’s a conspiracy to allow for environmental regulations. My only answer is to invite them to move to the Gulf Coast. Try living in a hurricane target. Live through the increasingly more powerful threats each year as the Gulf of Mexico and the tropical Atlantic store more and more heat energy…Heat energy that is converted into the very storms that pound these shores. The Katrina’s, the Rita’s, the Ike’s…All of these storms in just a few years have added to greater and greater damages spread over a very wide portion of the Deep South. Add in the fact that this is the very same area where most of the country’s refining capacity is located and you have an additional threat.
Just like in World War II, we are in a fight. We need to stop pollution and greenhouse gases. And you need to do your part to sacrifice some of your lifestyle for the greater good. We are not saying up and turn completely Vegan and only ride a bike (although that is an option!). But making small changes help when hundreds or thousands of other people just like you make those same small changes.
Global Warming Wrecks All the Fun
Say Goodbye to French Wines
Wacky temperatures and rain cycles brought on by global warming are threatening something very important: Wine. Scientists believe global warming will “shift viticultural regions toward the poles, cooler coastal zones and higher elevations.” What that means in regular language: Get ready to say bye-bye to French Bordeaux and hello to British champagne. [LA Times]
It’s Blog Action Day for climate change all around the blogosphere!
Of course it’s always Blog Action Day for climate change around here, so it’s easy for me to participate. Newcomers, please just look at the “best of” links over to the right.
Regulars, it would be a good idea to look around and see if any of the participants have anything new and useful to add.
To learn more about the Blog Action Day, visit the official website by clicking here.
Posted in Global Warming, tagged 25th anniversary, Austin, barr mansion, dancing, donations, fund raiser, ladybird liberty, party, Public Citizen, public citizen texas, support, Texas, Tom "Smitty" Smith on October 15, 2009 | Leave a Comment »
Haaa–aaaaaaaappy Birthday to US! Happy Birthday to US! Happy Biiiiiiiiirrrrrthhhhhhddaaaaaaaaaayyyyyy to UUUUUUUSSSSSSSSSSS! Happy Birthday to us!
It’s our birthday! Our 25th Birthday! Or Anniversary, whatever. The important part is, we’re having a party. And you’re invited!
Come on out to the Barr Mansion in Austin, TX on November 6th for an evening of music, drinks, and delicious organic snacks. We’re going to have a TOP SECRET SPECIAL MUSICAL GUEST which won’t be a secret as soon as I know who it is (wink). If you trust my judgment and ability to make magic happen, go ahead and buy an advance ticket for $19.84… or wait if you must, but tickets at the door will be $25.
We’re going to have a blast no matter what though, and that’s what matters most!
Plus, there’s a 23% chance I’ll dress as Ladybird Liberty, our mascot. Wouldn’t want to miss that!