October 29, 2013

By Julie Thibodeaux

The Texas Sierra Club is rallying the troops to make sure the Obama Administration makes good on its promise to cut carbon pollution. The public will get the opportunity to make their voices heard when the Environmental Protection Agency hosts a public forum Nov. 7, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library in Dallas. 

In September, the EPA introduced the first carbon pollution standards for new power plants. Starting in October, the EPA began hosting 11 “Listening Sessions” across the country to gather public input before it issues standards for existing power plants in June 2014. Around 150 people attended the first session in Atlanta, Ga.

“It’s our effort to get input from as many sources as we can before we develop the rules,” said Jennah Durant from the Dallas EPA office. “We don’t expect the public to know how a power plant works, but they certainly know how plants affect their environment.”  

According to the EPA, fossil fuel-fired power plants are the largest source of U.S. CO2 emissions. Fossil fuel-fired power plants use natural gas, petroleum, coal or any form of solid, liquid or gaseous fuel derived from such material for the purpose of generating electricity.

A 2006 report from the state of Texas says that most electricity in Texas is generated by fossil fuels:  36 percent comes from coal, while 49 percent comes from natural gas. 

Above, Big Brown in Fairfield is one of 19 
coal-fired plants Texas. Courtesy of Texas Green Report.

Earlier this year, the American Lung Association reported that coal-fired power plants remain among the largest contributors to particulate pollution, ozone, mercury and climate change.

“We've known for decades that carbon wrecks our health and our climate, and power plants are the nation's top source,” said Nia Martin-Robinson, organizer for the Texas Sierra Club. “Unlimited carbon pollution means more smog, more asthma attacks and more climate disruption.” 

Martin-Robison said they are working with Public Citizen and the NAACP recruiting people from surrounding states as well as throughout Texas to attend the EPA’s public forum.

“Our goal is to bring in 300 people,” she said. “We actually think we’re going to exceed that number.”

Martin-Robinson said one of their focuses is on bringing in a diversity of people,
including youth and minorities. She’s helping to coordinate transportation from as far away as Mississippi and Arkansas. 

“We don't want to perpetuate the myth that only white middle class older people care about the environment.” said Martin-Robinson. “We’re showing the EPA, the community supports strong, bold action on climate change.” 

Above, Dallas Young Sierrans at a pipeline protest in September.

The EPA Listening Session will be held Nov. 7, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library in Dallas. 

Sign up via the EPA.

Sign up via the Sierra Club

Julie Thibodeaux is a contributing writer and assistant editor for Green Source DFW. Previously, she worked as an editor and writer at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Contact her at Julie@greensourcedfw.org.

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