October 28, 2010:
Draft State Rail Plan for Public Comment
The Texas Rail Division of TxDOT has released its
latest draft of the state rail plan. Deadline
for public comment on the plan is November 5. The
Texas Transportation Commission is expected to consider
its adoption of the final plan
on November 18. The
plan is available at http://www.txdot.gov/public_involvement/rail_plan/trp.htm.
The current draft shows that Texas is getting serious
about providing a solution to transportation problems
beyond building more highways. It embodies a comprehensive
and progressive approach to rail that takes into
account the economic development issues and population
growth forecast for Texas in the coming decades.
The Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club
thinks the plan is a good effort that deserves public
support....Read the full story...
Makes Energy Policy Recommendations to Senate Committee
The Texas Senate Business and Commerce Committee
met this week to discuss competition in electric
retail markets, including the impact of the “nodal”
transition on electric customers. On December 1,
2010, the Texas ERCOT electricity market will officially
transform from a “zonal” system – based on five
geographic zones – to a “nodal” system, based on
some 4,000 nodes. As a result electricity pricing
should become more varied, with local factors of
generation, transmission and congestion impacting
the wholesale and ultimately retail price.
Reed, Conservation Director for the Lone Star Chapter
of the Sierra Club, testified, however, that we
do not actually know what impact the nodal market
will have on retail electric prices. He called instead
for a series of state actions to
promote energy efficiency, demand side management,
and onsite renewable energy. As Reed pointed out, while we can’t know
how the nodal market will impact retail rates, we
can reduce electric bills through the promotion
of such efforts. ...Read the full story...
Sierra Club Announces Opposition to Devils River Land Proposal
Says Devils River State Natural Area Should Remain in State Ownership
(Austin) – The Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club today released a new letter to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department formally opposing the proposed transfer of the existing Devils River State Natural Area and a $7.9 million cash payment in order to acquire the smaller Devils River Ranch.
In the letter the Sierra Club expresses appreciation to Parks and Wildlife for providing additional information to the group over the past couple of weeks while a review of the proposal was underway, and Sierra Club spokesperson Ken Kramer characterized the Devils River matter as one of “a
disagreement among friends.” Kramer says in the letter, however, that: “The Sierra Club has an obligation to its heritage and to its members to speak up for the preservation of wild lands, including state natural areas, and that is the crux of our opposition to the proposed land transfer.”...Read the full story...
Proposed Environmental Flow Standards for Galveston
Bay and Associated River Basins Need Strengthening
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) staff has drafted and released a set of proposed environmental flow standards for Galveston Bay and the Trinity and San Jacinto Rivers that flow into the Bay. Unfortunately those standards, developed under the environmental flows process set up by the passage of SB 3 in 2007, are inadequate to maintain a sound ecological environment in the rivers and in the bay. Environmental and recreational groups that have been involved in this process – for example,
Galveston Bay Foundation, National Wildlife Federation, and the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club – are pushing for truly protective flow standards. The groups are urging the TCEQ Commissioners to provide Texans the opportunity during the public review and comment period to weigh in on an alternative set of environmental flow standards developed by those groups that would provide protection for Galveston Bay and its associated river basins....Read the full story...
Capitol E-Report is a monthly
electronic update from the Lone Star
Chapter of the Sierra Club reporting
on Texas environmental policy issues
of statewide interest.
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photo of Devils River State Natural Area copyright Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
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