APRIL, 1999 NEWSLETTER
Date: April 20, 1999
Place: Art Community Center, 100 Shoreline
Time: 12:15p.m. Business Meeting; Lunch 11:15a.m.
Program: Legislative Issues/County Bond Program
COMMENTS FROM THE CHAIR
The spring garage sale brought in $387. This was a reasonable amount for the stuff we had and the time spent. But it is not enough to support the newsletter. This costs us just about $900 per year and as a the garage sales are our onlysoure of revenue, besides donations, we needed to make more this time. So we will be considering what to do. There are some options, such as less frequent newsletters, no newsletters, or going into the hole. The balance in the account is healthy for now but the future is at hand.
Somewhat in this same vein...we are in the process of preparing a web site. Old timers here remember that in the 1970's and early eighties we had a small magazine called START TO STAR which was published by Mission Press and Marky Miles. All the organizations (15) in the city who had something to do with the out-of-doors had their newsletter in this publication. It was great. But this is no more. Now several of us are trying to get a similar thing underway through the web pages. We will be #4 when we get on.
In last month's newsletter you were asked to tell your executive committee what you were interested in. Unfortunately, the response was slim. One person did write and say he would be active if we worked on air pllution. That is one of the primary things we do. There is a member on all of the citycounty/state committees working to decrease air and water pollution. So come be active and attend Sierra Club meetings to find out what is really happening.
EARTH DAY 1999
CELEBRATION WILL TAKE PLACE AT NOON
ON APRIL 22 AT
SUTER WILDLIFE AREA> SPONSORED BY THE COASTAL
BEND BAYS FOUNDATION AND COASTAL BEND BAYS AND
The area has been refurbished with new signage and a new
butterfly garden..courtesy of Johnny French and the Fish anD
COME CELEBRATE THE NEW LOOK Lunch available
STATE CAPITOL REPORT
Citizen Groups Criticize Governor Bush's Grandfatherd Air Pollution Bill as "A C.A.R.E. Package for Corporations"
Public interest groups this week labeled Governor Bush's legislation on grandfathered air pollution as "a CARE package for corporations." "The Governor characterizes himself as a compassionate conservative. His compassion on this issue, however, seems to be primarily for industrial corporations which have had 28 years to come up to today's modern standards for clean air--not compassion for the thousands of Texans who have to breathe dirty air because of corporate indifference," said Tom Smith, Public Citizen Texas Director.
legislation is actually even worse than we expected it to be," said Ken Kramer, state
director for Sierra Club. "How Governor Bush handles this issue in Texas
will foreshadow how he would handle the clean air issue nationally if he is successful in
his quest for the Presidency. What we see thus far is not very comforting. His
legislation on grandfathered air plluters focuses on voluntary compliance with today's
laws, use of second hand technology, credit for phantom reductions of air emissions, and
corporate convenience over health effects reviews and meaningful public
Kramer characterized the legislation as "an all-you-can-eat buffet of delectable treats for plluters. The Governor's legislation, filed as H.B. 2504 by Rep. Ray Allen, is a veritable feast of ways in which industries may escape efforts to require significant reductions in air pollution from their plants."
"The results of the Governor's voluntary efforts thus far have been a failure - less than one-third of 1% (only 3,600 tonsout of 900,000 thousands of tons) of the air pollution from grandfathered plants has been reduced because of that program, according to a report by the Environmental Defense entitled Too LIttle, Too Late," said Smith. "Now the public is being asked to ignore the failure of this program and reward industry with more time to continue spewing unhealthy pllution into Texas skies."
"The grandfathered plants volunteering to come into the pllution control permitting process would have a menu of options available to them so they can get a permit with the least possible reductions in air emissions. These options include: voluntary emissions reduction permits, emissions permits through mitigation projects; multiple plant permits allowing some plants to avoid reducing pllution if emissions at other plants the company owns are reduced; and permit by rule," said Kramer.
"The most bizarre of these options is a proposed new category of 'emissions permits through environmental mitigation projects,' "continued Kramer. "Grandfathered plants might be able to avoid making significant reductions if they took 'environmental mitigation' actions totally unrelated to air quality such as creation of a wildlife or plant preserve, creation of an environmental easement, water or soil pollution prevention or remediation, wetlands enhancement, or environmental education."
"In other owrds," said Kramer, "through this provision the Governor's bill potentially would give polluters credit for phantom reductions. Some of these actions are things that industries would already be doing for public relations or other reasons but now they would be able to get credit for those activities to avoid emissions reductions."
"The Governor's legislation contains a stealth provision that attacks the public's right to request contested case hearings on proposed pollution for both grandfathered and new facilities applyinmg for a new type of 'standard permit." This provision is a backdoor way of enacting a portion of other heavily criticized legislation (H.B. 801)," noted Kramer. "The Governor's office has indicated that this provision willl be dropped from the bill, and we look forward to its elimination."
Smith concluded "that the Governor's legislation fails in six key tests:
- It is voluntary and it fails to set a date for final closure of the grandfathered loophole.
- It fails to require use of the most current best available control technology for making significant reductions of air pllution.
- It fails to require health effects reviews for grandfathered facilities coming into the permitting process.
- It fails to allow citizens an opportunity for meaningful public scrutiny of proposed permits.
- It allows industries to continue to pollute heavily in some areas while reducing emissions in other areas.
- It fails to remove the "volume discount" on air pllution control fees which gives big polluters a financial break.
H.B. 801 - Anti-Citizen Rights Bill
The Texas Chemical Council bill to eliminate the opportunity for a contested case haering in pollution permit proceedings is still mired in "negotiations" involving attorneys for industry groups and attorneys for citizen intervenors. It appears unlikely at this point that H.B. 801 as originally filed will pass. The overwhelming public opposition and negative media coverage have blunted the direct assault on the contested case process.
The concern now is that chemical and other industry lobbyists will try to chip away at the contested case process through the rewrite of H.B. 801 and/or through "stealth" provisions in other legislation dealing with specific types of permits. THe Sierra Club, which is not involved in the H.B. 801 negotiations but is being kept informed about the discussions, will continue to monitor this situation closely.
Coastal Bend Sierra Club E-Mail
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The Sierra Club's statement of Purpose is: To explore, enjoy and protect the wild places of the earth; to practice and promote the responsible use of the earth's ecosystems and resources; to educate and enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment; and to use all lawful means to carry out these objectives.
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