AN OPEN MEETING
Help Us Start to Organize the 2017 Root and Branch Revue
Saturday, September 10th
Common Desk Co-Working Space
633 West Davis in North Oak Cliff
If you could plan a conference for you and your peers to help train and motivate you as environmental activists in Texas, what speakers, events, forums, exhibits, panels, music, and/or art would you choose?
Last year Downwinders brought Love Canal's own Lois Gibbs to DFW to be our featured guest at the very first Root and Branch Revue – a conference aimed specifically at training and educating DFW and Texas environmental activists. We also teamed up with the Young Turks at Bar Politcs to present the first evening of "environmental comedy" in DFW history, and hosted a panel on what fracking activists can do in the wake of new state restrictions on municipalities.
Because of the elections, Downwinders has scheduled the next the next Root and Branch Revue for January 25-28, 2017. This time we're specifically focusing on "Citizen Science," through the lens of Environmental Justice.
We're looking for DFW activists who want to help shape the content and format of this one-of-a-kind event, so we're opening up the planning process to everyone who's interested. This is our first public planning meeting.
Bring your thinking caps and dreams. We need ideas for workshops, speakers, etc. for this "SXSW for activists." If you ever attendded a conference and wondered how you'd run things differently, now's your chance to put theory into practice.
THIS FRIDAY, SEPT 2nd
ENERGY TRANSFER HQ
8111 WESTCHESTER in DALLAS – by the N. Dallas Tollroad (map)
The American Indian Movement of Central Texas is sponsoring a protest in support of the increasingly high profile anti- pipeline protest in the Dakota Indian Country in Dallas this Friday. The event is co-sponsored by a host of local and state environmental groups, including Downwinders at Risk.
If built, the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL), would pass under the Missouri River…twice. The pipeline threatens to contaminate the drinking water, crops and burial grounds of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.
Federal regulatory agencies quietly approved DAPL, which will transport Bakkan Shale crude oil from North Dakota through South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois.
The Dallas connection? Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners is the pipeline's developer.
You may already know Energy Transfer's CEO, Kelcy Warren. He bought the naming rights to the Dallas Deck park over Woodall Rogers that bears his son's name and is a big Jackson Browne fan. Show up and protest Before The Deluge.
State Representative Chris Turner, whose District 101 spans west Grand Prairie and east Arlington between Dallas and Fort Worth became the first state elected official to urge EPA to reject the current state anti-smog plan for DFW and substitute one of its own.
In a letter to EPA Chief Gina McCarthy, Turner used language echoing the sentiments of US Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson and Congressman Marc Veasey.
"While I hope that the TCEQ will take the public comments it received by EPA, the Texas Medical Association, and others into consideration and require additional emissions controls in the final SIP revision it submits to EPA, I ask you to consider rejecting the state's plan use of a Federal Implementation Plan if your agency decides that the final SIP revision is insufficient and the state will not negotiate in good faith."
The entire letter can be read here.
Besides Johnson and Veasey's letters, Dallas County and the City of Dallas have voted in favor of resolutions condemning the currently proposed plan has being inadequate. More cities and counties are expected to pass similar resolutions as elected bodies come back from summer breaks.
Members of the DFW Clean Air Network (DFW CAN) – Downwinders at Risk, the Sierra Club, Beyond Coal, the Texas Campaign for the Environment, Mansfield Gas Well Awareness and Livable Arlington – are also out and about obtaining letters like Turner's from other state and federal elected officials.
Turner's district is directly downwind of the Midlothian cement plants and includes numerous natural gas wells and facilities. Gas sources are now the fourth largest contributor to DFW smog.
According to EPA, the state plan arrived at the EPA's doorstep August 8th, but it's already DOA.
Although ozone season is far from over and it's been a relatively mild "season" so far, we know in its second full year out of the three years allotted for success, the state air plan will, at best, have brought down ozone levels by 1 ppb from 2015 levels, to 80 ppb. We're supposed to be at 75.
The parrot is dead. We're just waiting for the state to admit it – or the EPA to shut the farce down.
Meanwhile, the more political support on the ground in DFW for an EPA alternative that might actually reduce emissions from major sources in North Texas like gas, cement kilns, and coal plants, the more likely it is for the Agency to accept the challenge, and endure all the pushback from Austin it'll get if it decides to take over the job.
If you're interested in trying to get your city, county, or state or federal elected officials to join the band wagon and reject the state plan, write or call us and we'll work with you in getting something accomplished that can add to the momentum.
There's no better symbol of the anachronism that is Texas state government than the ineptly named Railroad Commission, or RRC. It has nothing to do with choo-choos, and everything to do with the State's oil and gas legacy.
Or is it misnamed? Its innocuous title keeps it off a lot of citizens' radar screens while going about its business of shoving anyone or anything not in the oil and gas business around to make it more comfortable. Our drilling contaminating your water? You can to get the bottled stuff delivered. Our waste disposal causing earthquakes? You'll get used to it. Our air pollution causing your child's nosebleed? What's a couple of ER visits compared to our nation's energy security? Railroad? Yes – it's right there in our name.
Instead of being appointed by the Governor, the three RRC commissioners are elected statewide…with the help of contributions from the oil and gas industry. This isn't the fox guarding the hen house. There are no hens left.
This is why any review of the Commission, even one by the equally inept State Legislature, is a chance to get the word out about how god-awful the RRC is and what needs to be done to overhaul it. Beginning this month, that's what's happening, because 2017 is the year the Railroad Commission is getting "sunsetted" by the state.
Sunset laws demand that every state agency must come before the legislature and justify itself anew about every 12 years. Usually pro forma exercises, occasionally a terrible agency is allowed to die. Most have their missions amended or rules tweaked, or their names changed. this is how the "Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission," or, "TNRCC/"TRAINWRECK," became the "Texas Commission on Environmental Quality/"TCEK." After being postponed last session, it's the Railroad Commission's turn now.
Tomorrow night's faux-official Town Hall meeting on the Railroad Commission being sponsored by Earthworks, Public Citizen and the Sierra Club is a kind of milk run for the more important job of testifying in front of state legislators in Austin later in the month, on the 22nd. Attend to find out how you can use this process to gain more publicity for its terrible record, and perhaps be able to actaully tweak the system to be more citizen-friendly.
Texas Railroad Commission Town Hall
Tuesday, August 2
Grapevine Convention Center
1209 Main St.
(located off 114 and Main St. exit)
Registration: 6:30 pm
Program: 7:00 pm
Texas Railroad Commission Public Testimony at the Capitol
Monday, August 22
For more information on the whole process, talk to Rita Beving with Public Citizen and the Sierra Club, 214.557.2271