Rick Perry Agrees to ‘Conversation’ on Fracking in Texas

Its a pretty safe bet from a Texan’s point of view that fracking has a promising future in our state. The practice has, as Governor Perry states, “been used for years” in Texas. Its also clear judging by recent news stories and a controversial study by the EPA that the federal government has every intention of regulating the practice.  Texas and its current governor in particular have had a rocky relationship with federal regulators. Earlier this year the EPA threatened to take away the TCEQ’s ability to grant ‘flexible’ permits to refineries citing non-compliance with the Clean Air Act. The TCEQ (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality), is Texas’ own environmental regulating body.

When it comes to the fracking method of natural gas extraction most of the national attention has been focused in more heavily populated areas where average citizens are more likely to come into direct contact with the industry.  In this shrinking window, Texas has an opportunity to show the EPA and other federal regulators that we can set the standard for appropriate state regulation and avoid expensive off-sets that could derive from a different set of federal standards.

When the head of our State makes comments like, “this is a fear tactic that the left is using and the environmental community is using” and refers to coverage of the EPA’s study as “stories that do not scientifically hold up”, it actually hurts our case that we are prepared to take on the challenge and address the tough issues that effect or energy security and the public trust. On the bright side his first line was, “We can have this conversation”, and I think that’s a good place to start.

Rick Perry on Fracking and Groundwater

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Keystone XL: Pipeline to Employment?

I have been following the Keystone XL pipeline developments for over a year and we are coming to the end of the public input process. This week the State Department is holding the last round of hearings in Texas, Monday in Port Arthur and today in Austin at UT’s LBJ Library. The Sierra Club enlisted my help to raise awareness of the Keystone XL pipeline that is tapped to deliver Canadian tar sands to Port Arthur for refinement.  As an environmental organization I understand their position which is complete opposition to the pipeline.  Their concern for increased emissions have been met with flat out denials by industry. When I talked to local media in Southeast Texas for this story even they felt the conclusion was already drawn. We have seen this time again and when a project gets to this point its not going to be stopped but that doesn’t mean that the discussion should end. The question now is, “How do we ensure that the communities in Southeast Texas have every opportunity to benefit from the $20 Billion economic activity?

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A different kind of Festival

It’s the weekend following ACL and I’m at the Texas Tribune Festival. Its a festival for policy wonks, news junkies, liberal do-gooders and industry insiders. I got lucky and received an invitation from a friend who won tickets on twitter. The festival was organized by the Texas Tribune which describes themselves as:

…a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that promotes civic engagement and discourse on public policy, politics, government, and other matters of statewide concern. Our vision is to serve the journalism community as a source of innovation and to build the next great public media brand in the United States.

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State Department holds hearing on Keystone XL Pipeline but is Anyone Listening?

Major publications coast to coast are discussing the implications of the Keystone tarsands pipeline that will dead-end in Southeast Texas. Despite the national fervor the State Department will only hold hearings along the proposed route.  Texans have been granted 2 opportunities voice concerns, one in Austin and the other in Port Arthur. I am working alongside the Sierra Club and internationally recognized environmentalist Hilton Kelly to raise awareness of the health and economic impact the contents of this pipeline will have.  The community of Port Arthur has a long history with industry (including the incineration of VX nerve gas) and recently been plagued with high unemployment. Residents in this area are no strangers to harsh chemical smells or pipelines and from the lack of local dialogue, for or against the pipeline, it would seem they are blissfully unaware of whats happening right under their noses.

Continue reading “State Department holds hearing on Keystone XL Pipeline but is Anyone Listening?”

UPDATE: Tar Sands Keystone XL

Ok, so I take off for my trip to Turkey with plans to blog (follow hashtag #YoungTurksTravel on twitter) and all of a sudden the Keystone pipeline becomes part of the national dialogue. Thanks to Gator for the kind words and link to my blog on this subject. I’ll have to make this quick as I am on a layover using limited free wifi in the Amsterdam airport, so please excuse any typos.
Continue reading “UPDATE: Tar Sands Keystone XL”

Not so smooth…like Keystone XL

“It’s not the easiest thing on Earth for law-abiding folk to come to risk arrest,” –Bill McKibben Environmentalist/protest organizer

Born and raised in Southeast Texas I can attest that a new pipeline is hardly worthy of a headline. This is different, and even with a notable amount of national media attention it is still proving difficult to get the message across. I started on this campaign over a year ago when the State Dept. began holding hearings along the route of the pipeline. At the time several significant issues were brought to their attention including; strip mining in Alberta, chemical leaks to downstream communities, the proposed route’s passage over the Ogallala aquifer, the discrepancies between proposed job creation numbers and ultimately the impact on citizens living near refining sites like Port Arthur.
Continue reading “Not so smooth…like Keystone XL”

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