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2009 Updates

 

AUSTIN PSR OCTOBER UPDATE

                                     

 

Roll Beyond Coal Saturday October 31st

 

Get out your bikes and join the Sierra Club and other organizations including Austin Physicians for Social Responsibility on Halloween as we rally, bike and party to raise awareness of the harmful affects of dirty coal plants.

 

Austin PSR Board Member Kim Carter, M.D. will be speaking about 1:30 on the harmful health effects of coal fired power plants.  Please join her and other PSR members (look for the PSR Banner!!) at the City Council Plaza on 2nd street.

 
Rallies, Bike Rides & Hikes for
Clean Power, Green Jobs, & Clean Air

Bring your bike and your kids, have some fun and learn more about clean energy and clean air in Texas! Attend one of the planned rallies/bike rides or hikes in one of five Texas communities on Saturday, October 31.

For More information go to the Sierra Club website: 
http://action.sierraclub.org/site/Calendar?view=Detail&id=113361 

 

 

 

Trish O’Day Represented Austin PSR at Green Energy Forum

 

Austin PSR Board Member Trish O’Day, R.N. attended the green energy form hosted by Rep. Eddie Rodriguez and Texas Impact “Going Green: A Dialogue on Austin’s New Energy Plan.” 

 

This forum was in response to the Austin Energy plan that was released recently and the comments the Catholic Diocese made about the move to renewable energy could have an adverse economic impact on the lower income members of the community.  At this point, renewable energy does cost more than the traditional sources of producing electricity, but that is not necessarily true if other indirect costs are counted.

 

Trish spoke to the forum about the health impact, and therefore the costs, that poor air quality and high mercury levels have on people and how those impacts are disproportionally felt by low income communities.  Making the point that there is more to clean energy production than just cents per kilowatt is going to be very important as Austin Energy moves toward greater use of alternative energy and away from coal.

 

 

 

See Elliot Trester on Powersmack.org Speaking about the Health Impacts of Coal

 

Austin PSR Board Member Elliot Trester, M.D. appears in a video on Powersmack.org talking about the harmful impacts of coal fired power that he sees in his practice here in Austin.  Powersmack.org is a local website devoted to the fight against coal. 

 

http://powersmack.org/videos/

 

Uninsured May Have Difficulty Getting Healthcare in Austin

 

Austin PSR continues to support national health care reform efforts including a strong public option as well as local efforts to improve access to care.  A recent Statesman article provides some insight about the local challenges that the public health clinics face in providing care to everyone who needs it.  New patients may find care harder to come by.

 

http://www.statesman.com/search/content/news/stories/local/2009/10/23/1023healthcare.html

 

 

 

Join Austin PSR Members for an Afternoon of Fun and Education “Kick-Off-The-Holidays”

 

November 22, 2009 Austin PSR will be hosting an educational event for all members and other interested parties.  Spouses, friends, guest, and children are welcome.  The more the merrier.   

 

Please join us at the home of Austin PSR Board Member Elliot Trester, M.D. at 5303 Turnabout Lane, Austin 78731 (close to Hancock and Shoal Creek Blvd.) from 3:00 to 5:00 pm. 

 

Austin City Councilman Chris Riley and Public Citizen’s Tom “Smitty” Smith have been invited to speak about energy issues and the move toward alternative fuels.

 

It will be an opportunity to learn more about PSR issues, Austin Energy’s plan for 2020 and to visit with other PSR members.  Look for another email with more information.

 

 

 

Deadline Extended---Please Sign on to the National PSR Letter to Our Senators on Global Warming

 

Senate action on the global warming legislation has been postponed and therefore we still have time to get signatures for the letters to our Senators.  We currently have 27 Texas signatures and we need as many as possible in order to make a real statement to Senators Hutchinson and Cornyn.

 

National PSR is trying to get as many health professionals as possible to sign on to a letter to the U.S. Senate on Climate Change.  The following appeal is from National PSR Executive Director Peter Wilk, M.D.  If you have not done so, please take a minute to click on the attached links and be included in those who are asking our senators to support strong climate change legislation.

 

Help strengthen U.S. climate and energy legislation

The U.S. Senate is considering climate change and energy legislation.  Its potential impact on the health and wellbeing of the planet cannot be underestimated. Now is a critical time for health professionals to speak out on the need for strong legislation that confronts the growing threat from climate change while leading the U.S. towards a safe, healthy and sustainable energy future.  

Given the urgency for action, we have developed two letters, urging your Senators to:

(1)  Make strong, early cuts in carbon dioxide emissions, in part by ending our reliance on coal-fired power plants.  Preserve the EPA’s authority to regulate carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act.

(2)  Eliminate loan guarantees or other subsidies for new nuclear power plants.

Our goal is to have as many health professionals as possible sign on to these important letters.  PSR will deliver them to your Senators.

You can read the full text of the letters here:

Please add your health professional voice to the call for confronting global warming and building a healthy, safe energy future by filling out the form below to sign on to the senate letters.

Thank you for your help!

 

 Upcoming Events

 

 

Austin PSR Board Meeting – Sunday November 15th

1309 Marshall Lane   3-5 pm  All welcome, we need your input.

 

Membership Event – Sunday November 22nd

5303 Turnabout Lane  3-5 pm

 

 

 

AUSTIN PSR SEPTEMBER UPDATE

 

 

Austin Energy Releases New Report on Future Energy Production

 

Austin Energy has issued their new plan to triple the use of renewable energy used by 2020.  The new plan is one of the most aggressive in the country in moving towards clean forms of energy, but it is still going to be heavily reliant on coal for the foreseeable future.  Currently Austin Energy fuel mix is 32% coal, 25% nuclear, 15% open market (bought from other producers) 12% wind, 11% natural gas, 5% misc. (including insignificant amount from solar).

 

The new proposal calls for a fuel mix of 26% wind, 23% coal, 22% nuclear, 10, natural gas, 9% open market, 7% wood waste, and 3% solar.  While still too heavily reliant on coal this would be a significant improvement in the next ten years.  Austin PSR will continue to speak out on the dangers inherent in coal-fired energy production and continue to encourage Austin Energy and others to carefully consider the harmful health aspects of coal as a primary energy source.

 

Trish O’Day, RN, Co-President of Austin PSR, spoke about the health impacts of continued coal usage at an Austin Energy Town Hall Meeting on September 23rd.  We will keep working to remind the decision-makers that economics are not the only consideration in choosing how the city is powered.

 

Please Sign on to the National PSR Letter to Our Senators on Global Warming

 

National PSR is trying to get as many health professionals as possible to sign on to a letter to the U.S. Senate on Climate Change.  The following appeal is from National PSR Executive Director Peter Wilk, M.D.  If you have not done so, please take a minute to click on the attached links and be included in those who are asking our senators to support strong climate change legislation.

 

Help strengthen U.S. climate and energy legislation

The U.S. Senate is considering climate change and energy legislation.  Its potential impact on the health and wellbeing of the planet cannot be underestimated. Now is a critical time for health professionals to speak out on the need for strong legislation that confronts the growing threat from climate change while leading the U.S. towards a safe, healthy and sustainable energy future.  

Given the urgency for action, we have developed two letters, urging your Senators to:

(1)  Make strong, early cuts in carbon dioxide emissions, in part by ending our reliance on coal-fired power plants.  Preserve the EPA’s authority to regulate carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act.

(2)  Eliminate loan guarantees or other subsidies for new nuclear power plants.

Our goal is to have as many health professionals as possible sign on to these important letters.  PSR will deliver them to your Senators.

You can read the full text of the letters here:

Please add your health professional voice to the call for confronting global warming and building a healthy, safe energy future by filling out the form below to sign on to the senate letters.

Thank you for your help!

 

 

New Fact Sheet about the Mental Health Implications of Global Warming

National PSR has released a new fact sheet, compiled by National Board Member Steve Moffic, M.D., on the mental health implications of global warming.  Many interesting facts about the increase of alcohol abuse, depression, violence and other problems associated with rising temperatures.  If you would like to read the entire fact sheet is available on the PSR website at:   http://www.psr.org/assets/pdfs/mental-health-implications-of-global-warming.pdf

 

 

President Obama Calls for Nuclear Disarmament

 

In a speech to the United Nations this week President Obama stated that to world that to ensure the future we want for our children we “must stop the spread of nuclear weapons and seek the goal of a world without them.”  He also said that because “today the threat of proliferation is growing in scope and complexity” his administration would work to secure the ratification by the Senate of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.   

 

The following day, with President Obama acting as the chairman, the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed a resolution to increase the deterrents for withdrawing from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and making it more difficult for nuclear energy programs to be diverted to the development of weapons.

 

http://www.psr.org/news-events/news-archive/obama-takes-steps-towards.html

 

 

Save the Date

 

November 22, 2009 Austin PSR will be hosting an educational event for all members and other interested parties.  More information and details will follow, but put it on your calendar now.  It will be an opportunity to learn more about PSR issues and to visit with other PSR members.

 

 

 

 

Upcoming Events

 

 

Austin PSR Board Meeting – November 15th

1309 Marshall Lane   3-5 pm

 

Membership Event – November 22nd

TBA

 

 

 

 

 

 

AUSTIN PSR AUGUST UPDATE

 

 

National Teach In Fall 2009

 

The Bard Center for Environmental Policy is conducting a series of call-in seminars this fall on Climate Change.  If you want to learn more about Climate Change policy both in the U.S. and internationally you may participate in the calls at no cost.  The calls are the first and third Wednesday each month and are planned for half an hour.  The first session will be September 9th at 2:00 pm (CST).

 

For more information and to learn how to participate go to http://www.bard.edu/cep/ncs/ 

 

 

RESULTS Workshop on Saturday, August 29

 

RESULTS, a non-partisan grassroots advocacy organization creating the political will to end hunger and poverty, is hosting a workshop on August 29th.   RESULTS equips everyday citizens with the knowledge and training to effectively engage Congress, the media and your community on issues like health care, hunger and economic opportunity. By being informed active citizens, RESULTS volunteers create the political will for change. Come learn how you can make a difference in ending poverty in America.

 

Date: Saturday, August 29, 2009

Time: 10:00am - Noon

Place: St. Austin Catholic Church, 2026 Guadalupe St, Austin, TX

Location: Hecker Hall

 

For questions, please contact Eloise Sutherland at 990-9883 or nanawese@suddenlink.net.

To learn more about RESULTS, visit www.results.org.

 

 

Quick FAQ from the White House about Health Care Reform Legislation

 

Here is a Frequently Asked Questions page from the Whitehouse.gov website that probably will not answer all of your questions about the pending legislation, but it is an excellent place to start in trying to understand what all is in the proposal, and what is not.

 

http://www.whitehouse.gov/realitycheck/faq 

 

 

Atrazine in Drinking Water:  A Disagreement on Safe Levels

 

Interesting article in the New York Times (reprinted in the Statesman) about the amount of the weed killer atrazine that is safe in the drinking water.  The popular weed killer drains into the water supply throughout the country and a recent study suggests that smaller amounts of the chemical than suspected can be harmful.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/23/us/23water.html

 

 

 

 

National PSR Wants to Hear From You on Their Blog

 

 

In an effort to start more of a dialogue between chapters, members and the national office, please comment whenever you have time on PSR's security blog posts. We hope that the comment section can become a vehicle to hear what our members think and communicate back to them more.  

 

One way to spur this dialogue is for our more informed and involved Chapter members to start talking online to us. When you click on a title of a blog post on this blog page http://www.psr.org/nuclear-weapons/blog/, you will see a comment section at the end of each full post. A comment can be as short as a sentence or two, so should not take too long. If one Chapter member comments, another can comment on that previous comment or the post in general.

 

National PSR staff will update this blog on a regular basis, so please feel free to comment now and on future posts as much as you would like/have time for.

 

Thank you for your support in starting this dialogue!

 

 

 

 

Support Strong Climate Change Legislation Call for Action from National PSR

 

Global warming poses grave consequences for human health.  To protect against severe hurricanes, storms and flooding, intense heat waves, worsening air quality, and the spread of insect-borne and water-borne diseases, we must act quickly and definitively.

Your U.S. senators are now on recess from Congress and are at home, listening to voters.  Please urge them to take the following actions when they address climate policy in the fall:

1.  Make strong, early cuts in carbon dioxide emissions.  PSR calls for robust cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, starting at the earliest possible date and requiring a substantial reduction by 2020.

2.  Preserve the EPA's authority to regulate carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act.  The Clean Air Act has proven effective in reducing air pollution and improving health.  The Environmental Protection Agency’s power to regulate CO2 emissions under the Clean Air Act should be maintained in full.

3.  End dependence on coal for electrical generation.  Coal-fired power plants generate a third of the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions plus an unacceptable burden of toxic emissions.  PSR supports an immediate moratorium on construction of new coal-fired power plants, and opposes unlimited subsidies for coal-based electricity, including carbon capture and sequestration. 

4.  Prevent unlimited loan guarantees or additional subsidies for new nuclear reactors.  New nuclear reactors are expensive, risky, and polluting. Uranium mining wastes, spent fuel and other waste materials created by nuclear energy are radioactive, long-term threats to health, with no permanent solution. 

Tell your Senators that to protect public health and the planet, we as a nation must move away from dangerous energy. 

Click Here to Take Action

 


 

Upcoming Events

 

 

Austin PSR Membership Meeting – August 30th

1309 Marshall Lane   3-5 pm

Everyone Welcome

Come learn more about PSR and let us know more about your areas of interest.

 

 

 

AUSTIN PSR JUNE UPDATE

 

 

TODAY’S AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN OP-ED BY AUSTIN PSR BOARD MEMBERS DON WILLIAMS AND TRISH O’DAY

 

You can read it on Page A-9 of today’s paper or check it out online here:  http://www.statesman.com/opinion/content/editorial/stories/2009/06/25/0625williams_edit.html

 

 

TAKE ACTION: Tell the EPA You Agree That Global Warming Affects Health

 

The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a “finding” that global warming pollution is a threat to the public health and welfare of the United States.  The finding would allow the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases.  It would mark a major breakthrough in protecting the planet from the worst consequences of climate change, and would be an important tool for challenging new, dirty coal plants.  EPA is seeking input from stakeholders on its findings.  Because global warming will affect everyone, we are all stakeholders.

 

Please go to our website www.austinpsr.org and click on the EPA link under the Action Alerts.  There you will be directed to much more information about this finding and how to let your voice be heard.

 

 

Legislature Comes to a Close on June 1st

 

The 81st Session of the Texas Legislature came to a close on the 1st of June.  Already there is talk of a Special Session, likely in July, to handle some of the issues that were not dealt with due to the prolonged stalling process in the House to prevent debate on the Voter ID bill.  Many bills that would have easily passed, failed as the time ran out while non-controversial bills were discussed for as long as possible.  Included in those bills that died were some good environmental and energy policy legislation.

 

One bill that did pass was HB 469, the so-called clean coal bill.  This legislation will give up to $100 million in tax credits to new coal plants which can capture and sequester at least 70 percent of their carbon-dioxide emissions. 

 

The wind energy industry was able to pass legislation continuing their local tax abatements for new jobs they produce.

 

The solar industry did not do quite as well.  Legislation to set a state goal of 1,500 megawatts of solar power by 2020 died at the end of the Session, as did legislation to put a surcharge on electric bills to fund a $100 million pool for solar power incentives. 

Other bills that failed to pass included such items as raising the state’s minimum residential and commercial building codes from 2001 to 2009 standards, raising the utility efficiency goal (SB 546), adopting appliance efficiency standards for a variety of products, including pool pumps (SB 16)

Also the statewide ban on smoking in public places failed to pass.  As did the legislation requiring school districts to follow EPA guidelines when deciding where to build a new school.

 

It was not nearly as successful of a Session for anyone as it appeared to be in the early months.  Many of the bills that died would have passed easily and their failure was a because of the process and not because of the policy.  But the Legislature will be back in 18 more months for another Regular Session and are very likely to be back for a Special Session in the near future, so “there’s always next time.”

 

PSR Calls on Members of Congress to Strengthen the American Clean Energy and Security Act to Protect Public Health

National PSR has expressed its appreciation to representatives Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Ed Markey (D-MA) and other members for their leadership in moving a comprehensive energy and climate bill, H.R. 2454, through the House Energy and Commerce Committee. However, in order to protect public health from the most catastrophic impacts of global warming, PSR is calling for significant improvements in the bill to make it more effective. To see the full statement, please click here.

 

 

In Case You Missed It:  Austin PSR Board Member Elliot Trester’s Letter to the Editor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Help National PSR Fight to Remove Toxic Chemicals from Food and Beverage Containers

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a hormone-disrupting chemical that is added to plastics during manufacture.  It is in food containers, baby bottles, sippy cups, dental sealants, and a wide range of consumer products. It is one of the highest volume chemicals produced globally, and was found in the bodies of nearly 93% of Americans age 6 and up by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  There is no doubt that BPA is ubiquitous and there is increasing concern that it harms health. More than 200 studies have reported evidence that very low doses of BPA exposures are linked with a staggering number of health problems including  diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, prostate cancer and breast cancer, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders, lowered sperm count, and early-onset puberty. 

 

As healthcare professionals, we believe the Congress should take a precautionary approach to BPA by preventing unnecessary human exposure. We support the passage of the Ban Poisonous Additives Act of 2009 (H.R. 1523 and S. 593), introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) in March. This Act would ban BPA from food and beverage containers, taking an important step in protecting the health of the US population from a ubiquitous toxic chemical. In order to move forward, H.R. 1523 and S. 593 needs co-sponsors and supporters now.
Please ask your Member of Congress to protect our health by co-sponsoring the BPA Act of 2009.

Click Here to Take Action

 Upcoming Events

 

 

Austin PSR Board Meeting – August 30th (New PSR members are welcome!!)

 

 

AUSTIN PSR MAY UPDATE

 

 

Austin PSR Legislative Event a Great Success   

 

 

                   

 

 

About 80 people attended the Austin PSR Legislative briefing at the home of Congressman and Mrs. Lloyd Doggett.  PSR members and potential new members all gathered to learn about the first 100 days of the Obama administration and the progress of the Texas Legislature.  Congressman Doggett spoke of the health care reforms he is seeking and expecting in the coming year.  He also gave insight into the difference in the tone and focus of the new administration.

 

State Representative Donna Howard was also present and spoke to the group about the current Session of the Texas Legislature.  She too noted the new tone under the leadership of a new Speaker of the House and the committee chairs being given greater authority.  She informed the group about the progress of various health and environmental issues that are currently under discussion at the Capitol.

 

The event was a great opportunity for more people to learn about the activities and issues of Austin PSR.  We were able to get our organization known to many new people as nursing students, the Travis County Medical Society and others were invited.  Thank you to those or you who were able to attend and welcome to all you new members.  For those of you who missed this one, keep checking these updates for future events.

 

 

 

Austin PSR Issues in the Legislature

 

Austin PSR has supported several pieces of legislation during the current legislative session.  A variety of important environmental issues are still working their way through the process.  Some of the bills Austin PSR has supported are: HB 1839 by Howard (D-Austin) requiring school districts to have a site selection plan that takes environmental hazards into account when deciding where to locate a new school; HB 4082 by Farrar (D-Houston) requiring coal plants to reduce mercury emissions; HB 977 by Burnam (D-Ft. Worth) to use money from the Texas Enterprise fund to promote renewable energy; and HB 5 by Crownover (R-Lake Dallas) to ban smoking in all workplaces and public places.

 

 

 

 

EPA Finds Global Warming a Clear Threat to Public Health

Last year the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Changed reinforced its findings that global warming would be a worldwide threat to public health.  Recently the Environmental Protection Agency forwarded to the White House an endangerment finding — stating that the greenhouse gases causing climate change represent an immediate threat to American’s health.

During May the House Energy and Commerce Committee is holding hearings the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009. This comprehensive climate and energy bill would move America toward a cleaner energy path and begin the difficult process of controlling global warming.  But, there is opposition on the committee to passing any climate bill.  There is no more time for delay; let your representatives know that they must support climate change legislation in order to protect human health.

National PSR has done an analysis of some of the critical sections of the bill that need to be modified (to view them, click here). This will spur clean energy growth and avert the most catastrophic public health consequences as a result of global warming.

The EPA released the Proposed Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases under the Clean Air Act  http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/endangerment.html#action on April 24.  PSR and others are quickly organizing to get both written comments and spoken testimony at the May 18 Arlington, VA Hearing or the May 21 hearing in Seattle, VA.  Instead of submitting just one comment from PSR, we are trying to activate as many people as possible to submit comments to show the enormous interest citizens have in setting CO2 caps.  Written comments can be submitted online no later than June 23, 2009.  Instructions for the written comments can be found here- http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/endangerment/downloads/Instructions-comments.pdf   

 

Free Online CME Course on Pediatric Environmental Health

 

 

Free Online Continuing Education Course for Health Professionals on Pediatric Environmental Health

Now Available at: http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/emes/subtopic/pediatrics.html

 

Based on the Pediatric Environmental Health Toolkit: An American Academy of Pediatrics-endorsed clinical tool

 

Online course developed in conjunction with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry’s (ATSDR) Division of Toxicology and Environmental Medicine, the University of California San Francisco Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit, and Physicians for Social Responsibility, Greater Boston.

 

Free 1.5  Credit Hours for: Physicians, Nurses, Nurse Practitioners, Other health professionals (check the course site)

 

Features:

Anticipatory guidance and environmental health

Taking an environmental health history

Environmental health case studies

Animated well child visit cases

How to use the Pediatric Toolkit in clinical practice

Additional resources

and much more…

 

Use this free interactive online course in the comfort of your own home or office

 to increase your knowledge base of common pediatric environmental health issues.

Users can log in and out to complete the course in several sessions.

 

Meet the Author/Book Signing

 

Robyn O’Brien, the author of the book, The Unhealthy Truth: How Our Food is Making Us Sick and What We Can Do About It, will be in Austin May 21st – 23rd.  This is not a PSR event, but we thought some of you might find it interesting.

For more information, click here: http://campaign.constantcontact.com/render?v=001eTXVGWdd-ULcfEHZTBGLO4LYH8pwLN_hYDz_ZBBMUFyMh5L0IP70p-X1HVYKZYRD4B--VzEaiaW6WhaEhX-PJE_wXWzvHSgIns9p2UEcskxxl1RYNY_l9wN0O66gbmwE

 

 

Upcoming Events

 

 

End of the 81st Session of the Legislature – June 1

 

Austin PSR Board Meeting – August 23rd

 

AUSTIN PSR MARCH UPDATE

 

 

Austin PSR Hosting of Dr. Phil Landrigan Was a Great Success

 

About 60 physicians and medical students gathered on February 19th to hear a lecture from Dr. Phil Landrigan on children’s health and the environment. Dr. Landrigan is the Ethel Wise Professor and Chair of the Department of Community and Preventive Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. He is a pediatrician, epidemiologist, and international leader in public health and preventive medicine. He is also the Director of the Children’s Environmental Health Center. Dr. Landrigan is well known for his many decades of work in protecting children against environmental threats to health, most notably lead and pesticides. He recently has been a leader in developing the National Children’s Study, the largest study of children’s health and the environment ever launched in the U.S.


This event raised awareness about the impact of the environment on children’s health and about Austin PSR.   As a follow-up to Dr. Landrigan’s visit, Austin PSR co-presidents, Dr. Lisa Doggett and Trish O’Day, RN, have plans to meet next week with other physician leaders to find out how we can help with the National Children’s Study.

 

 

Save the Date – PSR Legislative Event

 

Congressman Lloyd Doggett and his wife Libby have graciously offered to host an Austin PSR event at their home on April 25th from 4:00 to 6:00 pm.  The focus will be the first 100 days of the Obama administration and a health and environmental update from the current Legislative Session. 

 

Please mark your calendars for this important event.  This will be a great time to learn more about the work that is going on in both Austin and Washington and how you can get more involved.  More details will be coming in a couple of weeks.

 

 

Texas Legislative Session Reaches Half Way Point

 

The 81st Texas Legislative Session will reach the half way point of the 140 day Session on March 23rd.  The Session has moved at a very slow pace so far due to a new Speaker on the House side and many new committee chairs.  On the Senate side, they have been bogged down over the Voter ID bill.  In the meantime a record number of bills have been filed, the majority of which will not become law.

 

Expect the pace to pick up greatly over the next few weeks.  There have been many bills filed seeking to make renewable energy easier and more competitive.  We will also be watching legislation about “clean coal” and nuclear power.  Please reply to this email (to Austin PSR Director Craig Tounget) if you are interested in possibly testifying at the Legislature on PSR issues.

 

 

Legislation to Watch: Fast-Tracking Water Permits for Nuclear Power Facilities

 

HB 2721 by Dan Flynn (R-Canton) would prohibit the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality from referring water use permit request from nuclear facilities to the State Office of Administrative Hearings.  This would fast-track the permits by eliminating contested hearing and allowing nuclear plants to skip this hurdle.  Nuclear power plants use vast amounts of water and Texas is facing increase drought threats due to climate change.  We will let you know how this bill progresses and may be asking you to contact legislators about its impact. 

Sick Around the World - PBS Documentary and Discussion

 

Health Care for All Texans invites you to a discussion about the U.S. healthcare system this Sunday, March 22, from 11:30am-12:30pm at First Unitarian Universalist Church, 4700 Grover, Austin 78756.  There will be an opportunity to view some examples of other healthcare systems followed by a short slide presentation and Q&A with physicians. Contact Gaye Kopas at gkopas@msn.com or richardfralin@yahoo.com for more info.

 

Austin RESULTS Education & Action Meeting

 

You are invited to learn more about RESULTS, a nonprofit grassroots advocacy organization committed to creating the political will to end hunger and the worst aspects of poverty. RESULTS is committed to individuals exercising their personal and political power by lobbying elected officials for effective solutions and key policies that affect hunger and poverty. Their next Education and Action Meeting is Thursday 3/26 7:00-8:30 pm, Recycled Reads, 5335 Burnet Rd. To learn more, go to http://www.results.org/website/article.asp?id=3868.
       

 

Upcoming Events

 

March 22, 11:30-12:30, HCFAT discussion and Sick Around the World documentary

 

March 26, 7:00-8:30 pm, RESULTS meeting

 

April 1-2, National PSR Chapter Meeting and Lobby Day in Washington, D.C. 

 

April 2-3, National PSR Board Meeting

 

April 25, 4:00-6:00, Austin PSR Legislative Update and Party

 

 

 

 

AUSTIN PSR FEBRUARY UPDATE

 

 

Austin PSR Hosting Dr. Phil Landrigan

 

SPECIAL LECTURE – THIS THURSDAY

Children’s Health & the Environment: the Problem & the Solutions

 

Austin Physicians for Social Responsibility is delighted to welcome Dr. Phillip Landrigan to Austin, as he speaks on children’s health and the environment. Dr. Landrigan is the Ethel Wise Professor and Chair of the Department of Community and Preventive Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. He is a pediatrician, epidemiologist, and international leader in public health and preventive medicine. He is also the Director of the Children’s Environmental Health Center. Dr. Landrigan is well known for his many decades of work in protecting children against environmental threats to health, most notably lead and pesticides. His pioneering research on lead toxicity at low levels persuaded the US government to mandate removal of lead from gasoline and paint, actions that have produced a 90% decline in lead poisoning over the past 25 years. Dr. Landrigan has been a leader in developing the National Children’s Study, the largest study of children’s health and the environment ever launched in the United States.


            Location:        Dell Children’s Medical Center – 422 Mueller Blvd
                                    Auditorium (located on the third floor, far eastern part of the campus.)           

Date:              Thursday, February 19, 2009

Time:              8:30 a.m.        
                                   

 

The event is free and open to the public, although the talk will be geared toward physicians. For questions, please contact Donald Williams, MD at 324-0165.

 

Campus maps are available at http://www.dellchildrens.net/maps_directions_and_parking/

 

Dr. Landrigan at RunTex on Wednesday Evening

 

Dr. Landrigan will also be making a presentation on Wednesday February 18th at the RunTex Annex at 422 Riverside Dr.

That presentation will be more geared to the general public.  It starts at 6 pm and is free and open to the public.  This presentation is entitled “Raising a Fit Child Toxic Free.”

 

 

New Report on Solar Energy

 

A new report on the outstanding prospects of Solar Power has just been released by Public Citizen, Environment Texas and Vote Solar.  The report discusses both the economic and environmental impact solar power could make in Texas in the coming years.  The estimates are that Texas has far more potential than any other state to become the nation’s leader in solar power production.  Solar Power not only provides clean, renewable energy, it also creates jobs and has great investment potential.  Texas has long been the leader in energy production and there is no reason for the state not to continue to be the most significant provider of energy as we switch from a oil and gas to alternatives such as wind and solar.

 

 

www.cleanenergyfortexas.org/downloads/TexasSolarRoadmap.pdf

 

 

 

New Website is Live

 

Please go check out the newly revised Austin PSR website.  www.austinpsr.org   National PSR redesigned this for us and they are going to be updating and managing the homepage and we will be able locally to add and remove items to the news, events and other pages.  It looks great and it will help all of us to be able to find important information about topics of interest much easier.

 

 

Health Care For All Texas (HCFAT) Meeting

 

The next meeting HCFAT will be at Central Market on North Lamar at 6 pm, February 23rd. It will be in the meeting room near the information desk and not in the restaurant area. You may need to ask for directions once you enter the store. You may come early and purchase food to take up the meeting room. 

 

HCFAT is working to achieve universal health care coverage.

 

http://www.healthcareforalltexas.org

 

 

Local Activities

 

The Austin PSR Board of Directors met on February 8th.  They adopted a plan of action for 2009 which will entail becoming involved in legislative issues, writing editorials and letters to the editor and reaching out to the community.  We are also planning an event for April (details in the next Update) to provide you information about the legislative progress in both Washington and the state Capitol. 

 

Upcoming Events

 

Dr. Landrigan’s lectures February 18th and 19th

 

National PSR Chapter Meeting and Lobby Day in Washington  April 1-2

 

National PSR Board Meeting April 3-4

 

 

AUSTIN PSR JANUARY UPDATE

 

 

“Clean Coal” A Myth, but a Texas Option

 

Clean Coal is much in the news these days and Texas seems to be going against the grain.

 

This is an excellent editorial in the NY Times on January 23rd calling it the Collapse of the Clean Coal Myth.  http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/23/opinion/23fri3.html

 

A study released this week shows that breathing cleaner air has added about 5 months to the expected lifespan for urban residents. http://www.statesman.com/search/content/shared-gen/ap/Health_Medical/MED_Air_Pollution_Health.html

 

But in the Texas Legislature “Clean Coal” bills have been filed to make Texas the first in the nation to build “clean coal” electric generating plants.  SB 483 by Seliger (R-Amarillo) and HB 469 by P. King (R-Weatherford) and Anchia (D-Dallas) are offering incentives for the use of capture and sequestration of carbon dioxide from coal plants.

 

National PSR stands firmly behind the belief that there is no such thing as “clean coal.”  Even with capture and sequestration there are likely to be serious adverse health effects for those living and working around coal plants.  See more information on their Code Black Campaign.  http://www.psr.org/site/PageServer?pagename=Code_Black

 

 

Energy Audits, Now Energy Upgrades a Campaign Issue

 

In the fall, the Austin City Council approved a measure requiring all homes to have an energy audit per performed before the house could be sold.  The ordinance does not require any upgrades be performed by the home seller, but the audit will let the prospective buyer know what needs to be done to make the home as energy efficient as it could be.  Now it is becoming an issue in the upcoming mayoral campaign.  Brewster McCracken is pointing out that Lee Leffingwell has said he would support making the upgrades mandatory.  http://www.statesman.com/search/content/news/stories/local/01/22/0122urban.html

 

Legislative Session Started January 13th

 

Obviously the big news from the opening of the Legislature is the election of a new Speaker of the House.  From all indications he will be a little more “green friendly” than the previous officeholder.  We are expecting several pieces of legislation regarding alternative energy and conservation incentives.  Also we know more coal plants are going to be on the agenda.  We will be working with other groups to ensure that the best possible legislation is passed. 

 

Be ready for opportunities to come to the Capitol to testify, participate in press conferences, write letters and make phone calls to promote public policy that will be good for the health of all Texans.

 

 

National PSR’s New Power Point on Nuclear Weapons

 

National PSR has developed a new power point on Nuclear Weapons that is specifically for use in Grand Rounds.  They are now working on another presentation to be used when talking to community groups.

 

http://www.psr.org/site/DocServer/GrandRounds_Steps_to_Zero2.ppt?docID=6741

 

 

 

 

Local Activities

 

A good time was had be all who were able to attend the Austin PSR Holiday Party on December 15th.

 

Craig Tounget represented Austin PSR at an Advocacy Workshop hosted by the Children’s Environmental Health Institute on the issue of Clean Water Pipes and the dangers presented by rigid PVC water pipes.

 

Code Black Campaign

 

National PSR has launched their campaign Code Black: Coal’s Assault on America’s Health.  They have created mailings, T-shirts, billboards and advertising to raise the awareness of the adverse health effects that building more coal-fired power plants will create.  There is some great information on their website at http://www.psr.org/site/PageServer?pagename=Code_Black and a slide show that can be accessed at http://www.psr.org/site/PageServer?pagename=spsr_current_events

 

 

Upcoming Events

 

February 8th, PSR Board Meeting, Don and Lisa’s House

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